November 3rd, 2015 by Zachary Shahan
Originally published on EV Obsession.
For anyone contending that extended-range electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt shouldn’t classify as “electric vehicles,” here are two stats for you from the most comprehensive EV driver study conducted to date:
- Nissan LEAF average annual electric miles driven: 9,697
- Chevy Volt average annual electric miles driven: 9,112
Looking at total miles, here are the numbers:
- Nissan LEAF average annual miles driven: 9,697
- Chevy Volt average annual miles driven: 12,238
- National average annual miles driven: 11,346
I’ve got a few thoughts on these numbers. For one, the difference between LEAF and Volt electric miles driven is so similar that it might even be statistically insignificant. At the least, though, it shows that ~40 miles of electric range actually is enough for the vast majority of our driving. The fact that the LEAF offers 84 miles (and now also 107 miles with the higher trim) means that many people can do all or almost all of their driving in the LEAF. Extra long-distance driving can be done in another vehicle in the household or in a rented vehicle. Additionally, since 40 miles is adequate for most driving, 1st-gen Chevy Volt drivers essentially drive an electric car 75% of the time. 2nd-gen Chevy Volts with >50 miles of range will likely bring that to >80% of driving.
Also worth noting is that Volt drivers are people who decided the range of a fully electric car like the LEAF isn’t enough for them. You might expect that they’d drive more than the national average, and it turns out that they do. LEAF drivers, meanwhile, do drive their LEAFs considerably less than the national average, implying that fully electric cars do need more than 84 miles of range to satisfy the needs of the average US driver. Unfortunately, we don’t have anything between the new 107-mile LEAF and the 230-mile Tesla Model S 70, so we’ll have to wait to see how a mid-range 150-mile (or so) fully electric car would be used.
As I shared in an article yesterday, 84% of Nissan LEAF charging was done at home, and 87% of Chevy Volt charging was done at home. Here are some more interesting statistics from the study:
“Drivers of 5% of Volts and 13% of Leafs only ever charged at home, and about half the drivers charged away from home less than 5% of the time. Of the drivers that charged away from home, some spread their charging across many locations, but most had just a few favorite places to charge outside of home (see Figure 4). Many drivers performed a vast majority of their away-from home charging at only one location. Much of this can be attributed to workplace charging.”
One of the other key findings was that EV drivers who charged away from home drove about 72% more electric miles than those who didn’t.
However, not many drivers charged away from home. “Overall, 20% of the vehicles studied were responsible for 75% of the away-from-home charging. Much of this away-from-home charging can be attributed to workplace charging.”
Notably, when people had both home and workplace charging available, they charged almost entirely at those two locations.
This seems to indicate that, even with electric vehicles that have <100 miles of range, the vast majority of charging can simply be done at home and work. However, other public charging stations are still useful on certain days, and fast-charging is critical to convenient, long-range travel.
“On weekends and other days when they did not go to work, Leaf drivers averaged 8% of their charging events at locations other than home and Volt drivers averaged 11% of their charging away from home. This increased use of public charging on the weekend suggests that public charging still plays a role in these drivers’ travel routines”
Basically, though, workplace charging seems to be the key piece of the pie needed in order to bring a sub-100-mile electric car up to the requirements of an average American. I think this last chart shows it all:
In fact, as you can see, LEAF drivers with workplace charging actually drive more than the national average!
And in the end, who wouldn’t like to just spend a few seconds plugging in and unplugging at home and at work, rather than having to find a gas station or charging station in the middle of a trip? Convenience — it’s one of the big benefits of electric vehicles.
For much more from this research, see this Idaho National Laboratory report.
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