Plug-in vehicle drivers being tracked by Ecotality in the EV Project are revealing some interesting tidbits about home and public charging habits. Ecotality is collecting data on the driving and charging patterns of about 6,000 US plug-in electric vehicle owners, and has found out that plug-in hybrid vehicle owners are more likely to use workplace and other public charging stations than those in battery electric vehicles. Yes, if you have a gas engine backup, you're plugging more. It sounds counter-intuitive, but there is a logic at work here.

The public-private, multi-year EV Project is gives away Blink home-charging stations to plug-in vehicle drivers of cars in both of these plug-in electric categories, embodied in both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. According to the data – collected over 43 million plug-in miles – Leaf drivers are choosing to charge more at home – 89 percent of the time and are plugging in 1.1 times per day – while Volt drivers plug in away from home 21 percent of the time (compared to 11 percent for Leaf drivers) and tend to charge 1.5 times per day.

Part of the reason is that the Nissan Leaf has about twice the battery-powered range, around 70-80 miles, than the Chevy Volt, which tends to go around 35-40 miles on battery power. It only makes sense that Leaf owners would be charging more at home, often plugging in when they come from work and unplugging before leaving the next time. Volt owners pay more for their extended range car, but then apparently want to drive more miles on electricity than gasoline to save money. This year, the US auto market has been seeing more plug-in hybrids purchased than pure electric vehicles and the ratio of plug-in hybrid to pure electric is expected to reach two to one. According to Ecotality, with that shift comes a desire for more public charging stations.

Find more on charging habit research here.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      You probably don't have Leaf drivers going 70-90 miles in one direction and then 'needing' a charger very frequently. Where as the Volt owners would want to boost their mpg numbers like it is a game or competition, and charging once you reach your destination is the way to do it.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      Talk about sweeping generalizations based on ONE plug in hybrid and EV. Shouldn't the title be, Volt owners more likely to use public chargers as opposed to Leaf owners?
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Years Ago
      A better comparison would be between Model S w/365miles range versus a Volt/Prius Plug In. Most likely, both will use public charger as frequently.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        not enough Model S in the mass market to get good numbers.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have a LEAF. I use public charger on emergency only. 2 reasons: 1) it takes too long to charge at L2. To be viable, public charging station needs to add L3 chargers as well as L2 stations. 2) Public station charges per hour of usage. Unless it is an emergency, it is more economical to charge at home than from a public charging station.
        David Laur
        • 2 Years Ago
        Spike; i used L2 charging as well but not often. It is too slow but then quick charge came to town. I "was" in the camp that it was not something i would do but only because i equated it to long distance travel only. what i failed to realize is the transformation of my LEAF from "city car" to "regional car" Now, i usually only charge the bottom 2/3rds of the pack when the charge rate is still high. i get more range in the first 11 minutes of a charge than the last 19 minutes and am lucky enough that the next DCFC is well within the range gained on that 11 minute charge but it also allowed me to address unexpected trips that popped up. i frequently will let my SOC get low on days i dont anticipate driving much due to my (probably unwarranted) concern at keeping LEAF at SOC's above 80% for extended periods of time. but more than a few times, i have had unexpected things come and not enough charge to take care of them. This is when i started charging only as long as i needed to and realized that a 30 minute quick charge is not where its at!
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's addictive. Once you drive electric you don't want to go back
      noevfud
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nothing like not being able to charge a full EV because a Plug in Prius with a 15 mile range is sitting in an L2 station for most of the day when they could have used an L1 and charged in plenty of time. I seem many PIP locking down slots for extended time periods. Oh, they also have a gas tank.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @noevfud
        Until that station says "Level 2 only", or "battery-only", a PIP is completely entitled to park there as long as they like.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      This shows how the PHEV people really like driving on electricity instead of gas. It has been dubbed "gasoline anxiety" by some. Once you go electric, it is hard to go back to gas. I think PHEV users will do this as long as the chargers are free. However, if you have to pay for a charge, the rate they is generally much higher than actually paying for gasoline so they'll probably not charge as much. For pure EV owners, paying a lot for a public charge is OK since it is rarely done (only long trips) and when you need it, you need it.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Given that PHEVs frequently kick on the gas engine when you call for acceleration, I would have to think these people are really anxious. Maybe they'd do better to get EREVs?
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          @Rotation: " Maybe they'd do better to get EREVs?" The study and Spec are both talking about Chevy Volt EREVs, not distinguishing with PIP PHEVs (which weren't broadly available). The Volt drivers are basically trying to do all city driving on battery, while reserving the hybrid ICE range extender for very long-distance trips. Which makes perfect, rational, economic sense, given that electricity is so much cheaper than gasoline.
      Smurf
      • 2 Years Ago
      2 reasons.. 1. PHEV's have a shorter EV range 2. Because most of the public charging done in this survey is free If the Volt and Prius Plug in had the same range as the LEAF, drivers of those vehicles would plug in the same amount.. If public charging is $1 per hour or more, it is cheaper to use gasoline. Once most public charging is no longer free (something that will happen sooner rather than later), the percentage of public charging for PHEV's will drop significantly....
      David Laur
      • 2 Years Ago
      i am an anomaly i guess. i try to take advantage of free charging as much as possible. i am also experimenting on whether or not i can stand to sit at a quick charge station on a regular basis. but other than that, you are comparing a 40 mile EV verses an 80 mile EV so ya, the Volt has to charge twice as often to go the same distance. so that means a lot of trips back home or juice up on the road! what's that? Volt can drive on gas?? oh trust me!! I know Volt owners and gas barely qualifies as a "last ditch" solution! http://daveinolywa.blogspot.com/2012/10/gas-anxiety.html
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes. Shorter range means more likely to charge during the day. Many days, there are 3 PHEVs charging here (combination of Volts, PiPs and Karmas).
      Dave D
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not that surprising really. People who have plug-in capability bought the car to run it on electricity when possible and a smaller battery pack has to be recharged more frequently. This is not a bad thing, simply math.
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