New Study In Norway Highlights EV Usage Statistics


A study by the the Institute of Transport Economics, which is part of the Norwegian Center For Transport Research, gives an in depth look at EV drivers in Norway and how they use their cars. The study separates the drivers into two groups — those who drive battery electric cars and those who drive plug-in hybrids. The study is important because Norway has some of the most aggressive EV incentives in the world. As a result, it has a higher percentage of electric cars on its roads than most other countries. Where it is today in the green car revolution is where other nations will be 10 or more years from now.

Norwegian EV survey

The study reveals that drivers of battery electric cars like a Nissan LEAF or Volkswagen e-Golf are younger, have more children, and drive longer distances to work than plug-in drivers. They also are more likely to own one or more other vehicles, typically one with a gasoline engine that can be used for longer trips. Plug-in drivers are more likely to have just one vehicle.

Of particular significance is this interesting finding. Both electric and plug-in drivers report they do the vast majority of their charging at home with some also charging at work. Most never use fast chargers away from home or do so only rarely. That information seems contrary to the belief held by many that the key to wider acceptance of electric vehicles is a robust charging infrastructure.

Electric car owners told researchers they got most of the information they needed to make a buying decision from other electric car owners. On the other hand, the typical plug-in drivers got the necessary information from dealers and advertising materials. That should be of interest to manufacturers trying to figure out how to market electric cars.

Battery electric car owners use their cars far less frequently for vacations and other trips away from home than plug-in owners do. Both groups complained that the actual range they experienced with their cars was 20% to 30% less than official estimates. Part of that can be attributed to the very generous testing procedures used within the European Union. US numbers are typically about 30% lower than EU figures, so should be closer to what a driver can actually expect.

Significantly, less than 2% of both groups said they would not buy another electric or plug-in car in the future, an indication that both groups are quite happy with their cars. That’s the statistic that should count most heavily with auto makers. EV owners have good things to say about their cars. That will be one of the keys to wider acceptance of EVs in the future.

For those of you who are visual learners, our colleagues at CleanTechnica have put together all of the relevant charts and graphs from the Norwegian study in one place for convenient viewing.

Source and graphic credit: Norwegian Center For Transportation Research

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I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • GregS

    Steve: Good article but confusing in places.

    “Battery electric car owners use their cars far less frequently for vacations and other trips away from home than plug-in owners do”

    Maybe use PHEV instead of plug in.

    • Steve Hanley

      Labels can be tricky. In essence, the study found that owners of cars with batteries only used other transportation for their longer trips while those with on board engines to keep their batteries charged were more willing to use them for longer trips.

      Makes sense when you think about it.

      • jeffhre

        Yes, if you call those with on-board engines PHEV – like Greg suggested.

  • Radical Ignorant

    “That information seems contrary to the belief held by many that the key to wider acceptance of electric vehicles is a robust charging infrastructure.” – that’s a tricky sentence. Yes, it’s not key to wider, but it’s key for EVs to go mainstream. Except US most of people live in dense cities and don’t have their own garage. So really great number of people can’t charge at home. I’ dreaming the day when street lights will have chargers attached so virtually everyone can charge overnight. This is not yet problem as EVs are more expensive and are purchased by more wealthy people who more often lives in detached houses.
    And road trips – why there is so many reservations for Model3? Because it can replace your ICE for all tasks. Agree that Volt like cars can as well, but they are more complicated. This study shows that rarely people give up ICE for EV. So supercharging infrastructure for road trips is very relevant. Can I buy $30k car and have all transportation I need or should I buy $30k EV for most trips + $20k cheap ICE for longer trips and pay twice for insurance?

    • jeffhre

      Studies in Japan have shown both that populations won’t buy many EVs unless there are remote chargers, and once EVs begin to proliferate, the chargers statistically are rarely used. It’s the idea of, “it’s there if you need it” – which coincidentally was an early Chevy Volt marketing theme.

      • Radical Ignorant

        That tells us nothing about general population. People who buys EVs are ready to jump in, they know they can charge. There is always some population who have their own garage, parking place where they can install socket and have reliable source of juice every day.
        Other than that what’s the reason for have long trip if every two hours you have to wait few hours to recharge? Remote (except home and workplace) chargers needs to be HVDC if they are to make any relevance.

        • jeffhre

          I don’t know what it tells us about them, if the early adopters won’t even try it without remote chargers! And people who haven’t thought much about EVs have no idea what it would take (HVDC/superchargers?) to make remote chargers relevant.

          There are only two companies that appear to want to have 200 mile plus cars out by the middle of this decade, and 50% of them are pushing hard for chargers to accommodate long distance trips 🙂