Here's a twist we didn't see coming.

Plug-in vehicle owners are, on average, driving more than gas-powered vehicle owners are driving their cars, and are getting more comfortable charging those vehicles outside of their homes, Plug In Vehicles reports, citing a US Energy Department study concocted with charging station maker Ecotality.

Chevrolet Volt drivers are, on average, logging over 41 miles per day on their cars, while Nissan Leaf owners are tallying 30 miles a day. Compare this to 28.9 miles a day for the average vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. Meanwhile, plug-in vehicle drivers charged their cars away from home about 33 percent of the time during the third quarter of 2012, compared to 22 percent earlier in the year, according to the study.

Driving and recharging habits are becoming more topical as more people take the plunge and buy electric-drive vehicles. Last month, plug-in vehicle sales totaled 6,784 units, including a monthly-record 2,961 Volts and 1,579 Leafs, the second-highest on record. Toyota moved 1,889 Prius Plug-In Hybrids in October.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      Dave D
      • 11 Hours Ago
      "concocted"...uhhhh, Danny, could you chose a better word next time? That sounds a little shady considering they seemed to collaborate in the research and publishing of this information. :-)
      Turbo Froggy
      • 11 Hours Ago
      Ken you are in fact incorrect. The Leaf is 1/2 the cost per mile to "fuel" than the Prius. And if you look at the average 26MPG car at $4/gallon, it is 10X as much as a Leaf. Prius @ 50MPG to go 100 miles * $4.00/gallon = $8.00 Leaf @ 3.7Miles/KWH to go 100 miles = 27 KW/h * $0.15 = $4.05. It only takes around 2KW-3KW of solar to offset 12,000+ miles a year of driving. A grid tie solar setup does not charge the car directly, it pushes power out to the grid during the day. During this time the power company is paying you for the electricity, then you buy it back at night. We commute 70+ miles a day (Leaf and Ranger EV) from power provided by our 6.88KW home solar array, and our bill has been zero since 2009.
      • 11 Hours Ago
      How long does a recharge take and off home site what is the cost of charge?
      kEiThZ
      • 11 Hours Ago
      This is flawed analysis. I am guessing that those who are buying EVs are actually people that have longer than average commutes to start with. And that's what's driving up the average. They are buying EVs and PHEVs to save money on their longer commutes.
        brotherkenny4
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @kEiThZ
        Flawed analysis is a flawed analysis. The sweet spot for payback time and battery utilization is in the 40-60 mile range. Obviously 40 for the Volt. A person who commutes 10 miles a day could be driving a hummer and still only spending $10 on gas a day.
          kEiThZ
          • 11 Hours Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          I'm not criticizing the choice. But I find the conclusion that people might be driving more just because they have an EV/PHEV to be flawed. I am saying that they bought an EV/PHEV precisely because they drive more.
        Spec
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @kEiThZ
        That doesn't change the facts as presented. Thus, it is not 'flawed'.
          EZEE
          • 11 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          People's responses are baffling to me. When citing the Volt, remember, the first 40 mile are 'free' followed by the gas miles. This means that some people are getting 1000mpg. Why not drive it, opposed to the Suburban? Also, these are also 'new toys' for the people who own them. Yes, range anxiety on Leaves, Focii, and Mitsubishi (what is plural for that?) is something, but still, if it was me, until the novelty wore off, I would be running it right down, showing it off to everyone, plugging it in everywhere, knowing where chargers were just to go and plug the damn thing in. When I jump in my Beloved Ford Ranger to go to Home Depot to pick junk up, I come home. That's it. This is a green website people. Can't you filthy hippies be happy about anything? ;) Yes...laughing at the last line, calm down.
      Ken
      • 11 Hours Ago
      What did I say? I said that a BEV is twice as energy efficient or better than my Prius. And I mentioned that utility rates vary depending on where you live. And how much did that 6.88W solar system cost? You surely didn't get it for free so you MUST add its cost into your "fueling" cost, otherwise you are exaggerating like EV news did. And just how long will the Leaf battery last before it's kaput? If it doesn't last at least 150K miles it wouldn't have been worth the investment. And what will a replacement battery for the Leaf cost in a few years time - no one knows. EVs are still not a practical transportation option for most people. The range is too short, the charge time is too long, and the price is too high. Don't be so smug about not needing gasoline. It doesn't make you superior to those of us still using petrol. I'm hoping my next car will get 70 mpg and it's almost certain it will still use gasoline or diesel.
      DaveMart
      • 11 Hours Ago
      Fine if you get your pv system free, and drive only at night. In reality of course people who have a pv system drive their czar off the grid just like everyone else.
      EZEE
      • 11 Hours Ago
      How could anyone EVER PREDICT that a vehicle that is cheaper to operate might be DRIVEN FURTHER? How, O, HOW could ANYONE ever think such a miraculous thing? I mean, with $3.50 gas, why would someone EVER drive a Volt FURTHER than a Ford Excursion, that gets 10 mpg? My rocket scientist brain is boggling right now. It boggles. There....right there....it boggled. In my own case, I have a company car that comes with a gas card, and a personal vehicle (the Beloved Ford Ranger). For reasons I cannot fathom (free gas card) I drive the company car much more than the Ranger (free gas card). Just boggled again.
        brotherkenny4
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @EZEE
        Your implying that they are driving farther because it's cheaper. More likely is that they had a commute of a given length and after using their brains and their calculators they determined that they could save money with an EV or PHEV.
        Spec
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @EZEE
        Really EZEE? You've read ABG this long and you've never heard of the dreaded "range anxiety"?
          EZEE
          • 11 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          Plug ins also include the Volt. The ultimate no range anxiety vehicle. Besides, if I charged the damn thing, I am driving further to use it all up, dammit. Especially if I used someone else's outlet or charger. Now vote me up because all f you are wrong.
        Dave D
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @EZEE
        EZEE, It must be that "new math" they keep telling us about. Maybe us old folks just don't get it :-)
        BipDBo
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @EZEE
        People aren't significantly changing their overall driving habits because now they have a cheaper car to operate. I see two probable factors at play here: * If they have two vehicles in thegarage, one EV and one ice, they'll likely use the EV more and the ICE less. There may also be a few EV owners who have become designated carpool drivers. * People who drive a lot of mile, likely because they live far from work, feel the fuel price pinch more, and will therefore be more likely to buy a more efficient vehicle like an EV. I, personally, really want an EV, but it becomes hard to justify, at least by personal finances, when I only log around 15,000 miles per year between both of our vehicles.
          kEiThZ
          • 11 Hours Ago
          @BipDBo
          This is exactly what I said above and got downvoted for it. I think people are buying EVs/PHEVs because they have those longer commutes.
      RoyEMunson
      • 11 Hours Ago
      "Toyota moved 1,889 Prius Plug-In Hybrids in October." Wow, must be those brand loyalists. I cant find any reason to buy one of those over the options available... just MHO. Nothing against Toyota, I just think the PIP could have been much better.
        Jens Kr. Kirkebø
        @RoyEMunson
        The PiP works well in many scenarios. If I were in the marked for a plug-in hybrid (I'm not, I have a Model S on order), the PiP would be my first choice. Our driving are either local (max 15 miles per trip, usually much lower) or longer distance (at least 120 miles per day). So the PiP would use electricity in local driving and less gas than a Volt for the long distance driving.
      garylai
      • 11 Hours Ago
      Ken, Hmm...here in Seattle we pay $0.10 per kWh which can move my Leaf 4 miles. To go 50 miles I need $1.25 worth of electricity. Your Prius needs 1 gallon of gas which costs $3.50-$4 depending on where you are in the country. So I think it's more like a 3x difference. A week to charge a Leaf with a PV system. Ha! You obviously don't know much about PV systems. I also have a solar system on my roof which generates enough power to drive my Leaf 18,000 miles per year.
      • 11 Hours Ago
      This is great data, I read that car leasing companies are becoming even ,more interested in EVs as well and motivating small and medium business to invest in EVs leasing: http://www.greendealinitiative.co.uk/2012/11/to-ev-or-not-to-ev-that-is-the-question/
      DaveMart
      • 11 Hours Ago
      Averages are tricky things and you have to be specific about what you are talking about. I haven't been able to locate my references easily, but in the US the average mileage driven decreases as the car ages, so that a new car averages around 15,000 miles a year, whilst a 20 year old one only averages around half that. It isn't surprising really as you don't take an old banger on a road trip. Here they are comparing new plug in cars to the average for all cars of whatever age, and not surprisingly they come out higher. The charging pattern as people take advantage of cheap away from home charging does give some grounds for concern on infrastructure. Estimates of low costs to the grid were based on time of use charging, so that most charging would take place off-peak and use the vast spare capacity of the grid more effectively. Much of the charging that is occurring is taking place in the day for plug-ins, and so goes slap bang on top of peak use, meaning that if plug ins get common a very large and expensive increase in grid capacity would be needed. What would actually happen if plug ins get more popular is some combination of grid expansion, higher prices for charging during the day, and larger packs so that less day-time charging is needed. This drives a bus through assumptions of minimal grid impact though.
        DaveMart
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @DaveMart
        If you can possible afford it and need to do a lot of travelling, you buy a new car pretty regularly so that you have reliable transport. For old folk etc who don't do a lot of miles, then an older car works out fine. It really is pretty much as simple as that. High mileage drivers have greater need for new cars.
        BipDBo
        • 11 Hours Ago
        @DaveMart
        "in the US the average mileage driven decreases as the car ages, so that a new car averages around 15,000 miles a year, whilst a 20 year old one only averages around half that. It isn't surprising really as you don't take an old banger on a road trip." I think that the more significant explaination is that a car that is typically driven 10,000 miles per year is about twice as likely to last 20 years than a car driven 20,000 miles per year.
      • 11 Hours Ago
      My motorcycle gets 55 mpg and it goes 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Oh yeah, and it cost me less than $4,000... Thanks for playing...
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