Over Time, EV Owners Drive More Miles

By · November 12, 2012

Please Plug In

On Friday, I spoke with Colin Read, vice-president for corporate development at Ecotality, the company managing The EV Project. Read was just checking out the latest stats on the 6,300 EV drivers participating in the DOE-sponsored project to understand electric car driving and charging patterns. Among the latest trends that were emerging, Read noticed that EV drivers are traveling more miles as time passes. And they are charging slightly more in public in Q3 2012, than they did just one quarter earlier.

“Either charging is becoming more ubiquitous, or EV drivers are becoming more familiar with where the chargers are located,” said Read. “There’s certainly clear movement, indicated from the EV charger data, for EV drivers to charge less from home, drive further every day, and utilize more commercial away-from-home infrastructure.”

According to preliminary data, a Nissan LEAF owner drives, on average, 30 miles per day. Read said that federal government data indicates that an average driver of an internal combustion gas-powered car drives 28.9 miles per day. So EV drivers are traveling further, on average, than ICE drivers. This casts doubt on the common complaint that electric cars don’t have enough range for everyday needs.

Drivers of the Chevy Volt go even further on an average day—41.2 miles. And even though there’s a gas engine to extend range, Volt owners charge an average of 1.4 times a day-versus LEAF owners who charge, on average, 1.1 times per day.

The latest EV Project data shows that LEAF owners in Q3 did only 67 percent of their charging at home, down 11 percent from the 78 percent of home charging that took place earlier in the year. “Overall, we’re seeing across the board, home charging decrease on a almost quarterly basis, while there is a corresponding increase in commercial charging,” said Read.

It’s too early to talk about trends for DC Quick Charging, with only about 40 units deployed so far. (And again, this is preliminary data. Ecotality will soon publish confirmed data.) But it appears that each of those DC Quick Chargers is being used, on average, about one time a day, and in some places closer to four to five times a day. The Quick Chargers are capable of adding 50 or 60 miles of driving range in less than 30 minutes—a nice service to EV drivers, but only when the units are conveniently located.

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