One of the biggest perceived drawbacks of electric cars is the limited range. We are, after all, rather spoiled these days by fuel efficient cars and hybrids that can go 400 miles or more on a single tank of gas. But most people don’t need to go more than a hundred miles a day, especially city dwellers. Hell, most people don’t drive more than 40 miles a day.
In fact, a recent study in the UK proves just that. Project CABLED is using a fleet of 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs to study the driving habits of city dwellers. Turns out most of these vehicles were used an average of just 23 miles a day.
Now just as with any study, this one must be taken with a grain of salt. Those being studied are no doubt aware of the limitations of electric vehicle range, as are we. Most individual trips in the i-MiEVs were under 5 miles (what, you couldn’t walk?) and these vehicles were parked 97 percent of the time. But think about the average petrol vehicle; who, aside from truckers, spend most of their days driving? But the first few miles of petrol driving are also the most polluting, as the engine has yet to fully warm up, thus allowing more emissions into the air.
The study does bring up some interesting points though. For one, it shows that there is a market for limited range electric vehicles… if the price is right. The reason why most people won’t buy an electric car is that it costs the same (or more) of a petrol powered car, but with less range and a longer time to fill up.
Perhaps automakers need to work on making cheap, cheap, cheap electric vehicles (under 10 grand) that have an operating range of just 50 miles, and sell those vehicles to city dwellers. But then another problem rears its ugly head; why not concentrate on public transportation instead?
These problems aren’t easy to solve. If you are really just going to drive an electric vehicle 23 miles per day, why not take a bus or public transportation instead? Of course, choice is the name of the game, and giving up personal mobility is difficult.
I’m glad it isn’t up to me to figure it out, and this is just the first phase of project CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrators)