RSS

The Bulletin

Is electric car "range anxiety" worse for hybrid or all-electric drivers?

Posting in Energy

The New York Times profiles a startup that's looking to greatly improve electric car charging infrastructure across the United States. (Read SmartPlanet's reporting on the company earlier this year.) The company is working on its $230 million project, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, that has already installed 13,000 charging stations in 21 U.S. metros. They've also tracked over 42 million miles of data from 6,000 (mostly) Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf drivers. (In exchange for letting the company use your data, drivers get a free home charging station.)

One of the most interesting finding from all this research has to do with a phenomenon known as "range anxiety," or the worry you'll run out of charge before you reach a place where you can charge up.

The surprising finding, however, was that drivers of the Volt, a hybrid that runs on electricity or conventional fuel, suffer from “gas anxiety,” or a fear of having to visit a filling station. Volt drivers even end up charging more often than drivers of the Leaf, which runs only on electric battery power.

According to the findings, a typical Leaf driver plugs in one to 1.1 times a day, whereas the average Volt driver plugs in about 1.5 times a day.

...

“We never anticipated that a 40-mile-electric-range plug-in hybrid would charge more than a 100 percent electric car,” Mr. Read said. “You have that gas engine that you’re paying an extra premium for for a reason.”

So not only are you paying extra for a hybrid, but you're also spending more time charging.

Here are some other interesting findings as reported by the Times:

  • People with home charging stations use those more than chargers at retail stores.
  • Both sets of drivers visit retailers for a charge three times more than average customers.
  • Customers charging their cars linger in the stores twice as long as the average customer.
  • Generally, customers charge at night.
  • Many keep their cars plugged in longer than necessary.

For Hybrid Drivers, a Gas Pump Allergy? [The New York Times]

Photo: Flickr/NRMA New Cars

— By on October 21, 2012, 10:56 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure