Comprehensive Study of EV Drivers Reveals Plug-in Attitudes

By · November 14, 2013

PlugInsights, a new electric vehicle research firm, issued its first report today. The firm, part of Recargo Inc.—the company behind PlugShare and PluginCars.com—conducted a series of recent surveys about the experiences and opinions of EV owners. The publication, entitled “2013 U.S. PEV Charging Study,” used responses from 3,700 American drivers of electric cars and plug-in hybrids. That represents more than 2 percent of U.S. EV drivers, and “the most comprehensive look at the topic,” according to PlugInsight.

“The list of driver suggestions that emerges from this study is long and constructive,” said Brian Kariger, CEO of Recargo. “It ranges from seemingly trivial things like wanting longer cables at public stations, to fundamental needs like a more robust charging infrastructure, broader availability of workplace charging, special utility rates, and everything in between.”

The growing online panel assembled by PlugInsight will continue to be tapped for a series of upcoming PEV studies.

One of the key themes of the first study, according to Norman Hajjar, managing director of PlugInsights, is the need for more public Quick Charging. “Until fast charging becomes broadly available, mid-range battery electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF are trapped on a leash, close to home,” he said.

Longest trips in an electric car

PlugInsights identified the average longest trip of plug-in car drivers.

Top Five Insights

Responses from nearly 4,000 EV drivers revealed the following issues:

1. There is a lack of Quick Charging.

Level 2 240-volt charging is too slow and impractical to bridge distant locations. As a result, the average “longest trip” for mid-range BEV owners is only 96 miles, compared to more than 300 miles for plug-in hybrids and Tesla vehicles. Bottom line: Without fast charging, mid-range battery-electric vehicles are confined to “commuter car” status, and lack appeal to a broader audience.

2. Pay-based public charging is rare and undesirable.

Only 2 percent of public charging today requires a fee. In essence, Level 2 charging is slow and impractical, according to drivers. Therefore, it is not an attractive product deserving of fees. Drivers said that public for-pay stations don’t charge a reasonable amount, and membership cars are less than ideal.

Where charging takes place
Public charging preferred rates

3. Public charging stations are too crowded.

Two of the chief problems with public charging is that popular locations are too crowded, and a significant number of the locations have frequent equipment failures.

4. Home charging stations are too expensive.

EV owners believe home charging equipment, EVSEs, are more expensive than they should be. Nearly a third of owners found the cost of installation to be “much higher” than expected.

EVSEs are too expensive

5. Special EV utility rates spur vehicle sales.

Time-of-use rates—when electricity is cheaper during off-peak hours—have been adopted by a large majority of drivers, when those rates are available. More than 15 percent of all drivers say these cheaper rates (usually for charging during the wee hours of the night) were an important factor in the decision to buy an EV.

The study goes on sale today at PlugInsights.com, where you can also see pricing, table of contents, and a complete list of the more than 65 tables and figures included.

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