Electric Vehicles traffic

Published on January 17th, 2012 | by Christopher DeMorro


Study: 95% Of All Trips Could Be Made By EV’s

Electric vehicles are finally starting to saturate the market, though some of the same old arguments continue to be made against the limited range of EV’s. But a new study by two doctoral students claims that 95% of all single-destination trips could be made by today’s electric vehicles. Surprised? Don’t be.Cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i are rated at a real-world range of between 70 and 80 miles. That doesn’t sound like much range, but two Columbia University students analyzed data from a 2009 National Household Travel study and came to the conclusion that only 1% of all single-destination trips were farther than 70 miles. An overwhelming majority (95%) of these trips were under 30 miles in length, well within today’s range limitations.

But the doctoral students, Garret Fitzgerald and Rob van Haaren (who run the website Solar Journey USA), did not stop there, and went on to tackle the American commuter mentality. Their findings? 93% of commuters travel less than 100 miles to work every day, just beyond the average range of today’s EV’s. But the average commute was 13.6 miles, well within the range of today’s EV’s.

Of course, that does not solve the problem of high prices and limited public charging options. EV’s may not make sense for everybody. But, once the prices come down and EV’s can be competitive with today’s compact cars, EV’s will make sense for a lot of people, no matter what the politicians and pundits try to tell you.

Source: Green Car Congress | Department of Transportation | Solar Journey USA |Image: Luna Vandoorne via Shutterstock

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About the Author

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. When he isn't wrenching or writing, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • http://jpwhitenissanleaf.com JPWhite

    Thanks for trying to educate the public that EV’s can and do make sense.

    However the public do not purchase cars using logic. The ‘fear’ of getting stranded maybe just once, will be enough to cause the majority of potential purchasers to pause. When folks ask me what do you do when you run out electric, I respond ‘the same as when you run out of gas, you call for help or walk’. I then go on to add that you just don’t allow yourself run out, when was the last time you ran out of gas?

    • MikeL

      If 95% of my single destination trips could be made with an electric vehicle (not to mention trips I might want to do which have multiple destinations), then I would be out of luck 1 out of every 20 trips. If my current vehicle was unable to get me to 1 of every 20 places I need to go that vehicle would be considered unreliable. Range anxiety is a legitimate concern when we’re talking about a vehicle that is inadequate for a journey every 2-3 weeks. It wouldn’t be illogical fear, it would be a constant annoyance.

      Also when you run out of gas, you can call AAA to bring you a couple of gallons, and then you’ll be basically back to normal. You might even walk to a nearby gas station and carry a bucket of fuel back to your car. When you run out of electricity, your car will need to be towed to a fueling station and spend HOURS of charging to get you back to normal mobility.

      It’s great that electric vehicle technology is improving. At 95% range reliability, an all electric vehicle is reasonable as a second vehicle. However, a range failure rate of 1/20 is much too high for an EV to be my only vehicle.

      • http://solarjourneyusa.com Rob

        An important conclusion in the study (which this article does not include), is that 64% of all households have 2 cars or more. Besides that, 39% of all cars are not being used on the average Travel Day from the NHTS data. The households owning only one vehicle are not likely to replace this with a range-limited EV, but for instance with a PHEV. The households owning two cars or more have more freedom (unless both are used for long daily distances at the same time), and a full EV can be considered then. Cars are THE objects that communicate values like ‘freedom’, and a range limitation simply does not fit. However, people also make the simple decision to take the stationwagon instead of the two-seater convertible when they pick up their friends from the airport. We believe ‘Planning’ works similarly for the distances you will be driving (which car to take for the groceries and which for driving to grandma, living two States further along the road?). Here’s the full report

        • http://www.sublimeburnout.com Christopher DeMorro

          @ Rob

          Thanks for adding that crucial information. It’s easy to forget that most families have access to more than one car.

  • DaveD

    I think that when people start to see more charging stations available, they will start to calm down about the range anxiety. Every study made to date has shown that a vast majority of the time, people don’t use the charging stations but rather get all their charges at home. But just knowing they are there will help with the initial fear.

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