So far, most of the operating experience with electric vehicles has been gained within large companies or government organisations. Within an electric vehicle demonstration programme initiated by the Bundesminister für Forschung und Technologie, West-Germany, 40 electric VW vans are being operated by small business and private people in West Berlin since August 1980. Most of these vehicles are equipped with an onboard charger and recombinating caps. This results in different operating modes of the vehicles as compared to fleet operated vehicles. In this paper, the mode of operation of these vehicles is described in detail. Test results regarding the vehicle operation, the battery service and battery life are also described and discussed.