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Inaugural PlugInsights report highlights need to expand public fast charging
15 November 2013
|The study shows that home charging is dominant. Data: PlugInsights. Click to enlarge.|
Electric vehicle software and information services company Recargo Inc., has launched a plug-in vehicle (PEV) research firm—PlugInsights—which released an inaugural report addressing the experiences, behaviors and opinions around charging a plug-in vehicle in America.
The sample for the study was drawn from PlugInsights’ PEV panel, comprising more than 3,700 plug-in drivers of 17 different vehicle makes and models of plug-in hybrid, mid-range battery-electric vehicles and long-range battery electric vehicles (the Teslas), mathematically modeled to reflect the “real world”. The growing panel will be the data source for upcoming PEV studies, and will be used for custom survey and focus group research with PlugInsights clients.
Charging locations. According to the study’s results, the overwhelming majority of PEV charging (81%) takes place at home. This is consistent across all segments with the exception of Tesla S drivers—who charged at their residences 88% of the time.
“Home” for these PEV drivers means a single family dwelling 90% of the time, with vehicles parked in a private garage (69%), or in the driveway (22%). Those whose who live in multi-family buildings (apartments or condos) account for only 8% of PEV drivers.
Despite the predominance of home charging, over a six-month span, more than 79% of all PEV drivers used public charging at least once. 71.5% of drivers visited a free location; 38.6 % visited a pay location; and 30.6% visited both. Only 8% of PEV drivers visited pay locations exclusively, while nearly 41% visited only free locations.
Slightly more than 20% of all PEV drivers hadn’t charged publicly in the previous 6-month period at all. Of these, 51% reported that all their travel was within range of home; 37% said there were no public stations conveniently located nearby; and 14% said that they were new owners, and they had yet to get around to it.
Range. According to the survey responses, the minimum range a 100% battery electric vehicle should have to eliminate “range anxiety” was an average range number of 186 miles (299 km).
As we noted in our study earlier, even 22% of long-range BEV drivers (with an average vehicle range of more than 186 miles) still said they have felt at “serious risk of being stranded” when their batteries ran low. But more importantly, the number depends on the degree to which drivers trusted the public charging infrastructure to support out-of-range travel as of July 2013.
So a range of “186 miles” is anything but static. Dramatically increase fast charger share of infrastructure from its current sub-10% level, and the magic anti-range-anxiety number is likely to decline.
… Bottom line: the state of the public charging infrastructure is as important to the value and utility of BEV automakers’ end-product as any engineering feature their vehicles may have. Tesla has boldly responded to this by making access to its Supercharger network, in essence, a part of the product itself. Would other automakers be wise to take an active role in building out of the public charging infrastructure? To help instill a sense of faith where little exists today? In our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes.—PlugInsights US PEV Charging Study
Fast charging. Despite the paucity of public fast chargers, 49% of all long-range BEV drivers and 35% of all mid-range BEV drivers managed to find their way to one in the 30-day period measured.
Mid-range BEV drivers visited more often (3.4 times) than long-range BEV drivers (2.7 times).
Until fast charging becomes broadly available, mid-range battery electric vehicles (BEVs) like the Nissan LEAF are trapped on a leash, close to home. Our data shows the average longest trip mid-range BEV drivers have ever taken is only 93 miles. They never stray too far from home because it’s just not practical to stop at a slow Level 2 charging station and plug in for 4+ hours, mid journey. Until fast chargers can bridge the gap between distant points, the appeal of these vehicles to a broader audience will be limited.—PlugInsights’ Managing Director, Norman Hajjar
Diversity. Another key theme from the study is the diversity of opinion and behavior among drivers of different types of vehicles.
The ‘EV Nation’ is actually composed of many different tribes. Plug-in electric/gas hybrid (PHEV) drivers and BEV drivers, for instance, are very different when it comes to how, and how often they charge their vehicles. They disagree on who should have priority at a public charging station. And unlike BEV drivers who must live with ‘range anxiety’, PHEV drivers never worry getting stranded when their batteries run low.—Norman Hajjar
Recargo Inc. is an EV software and services company that provides consumer and industry intelligence to support the adoption and growth of plug-in mobility. PlugShare is the company’s flagship product with the world’s largest charging network.
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