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Survey of California plug-in vehicle owners highlights charging behavior

California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project rebates by vehicle type through July 2012. Source: CCSE. Click to enlarge.

Californians own more than 12,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), roughly 35% of all plug-in vehicles in the United States. As of July 2012, approximately 1,000 new plug-in vehicles are being sold in the state every month. The more than 12,000 PEVs provide both consumer and environmental benefits, according to a new study by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE). CCSE conducted the survey in support of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP).

The study surveyed more than 1,400 PEV owners in coordination with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) in early 2012. Owners supplied information on vehicle usage, charging behavior and access to charging infrastructure. The study found that owners drive their cars an average of 26 miles per day and charge their vehicles primarily at night.

California PEV owners also have a high adoption rate of solar power, with 39% of respondents currently owning solar and 31% considering solar installations within a year.

This is the largest plug-in electric vehicle owner survey ever taken in California. It’s still early in the development of a robust PEV marketplace, but California is firmly established as a national and worldwide leader in supporting advanced technology, zero-emission automotive transportation.

—Mike Ferry, CCSE Transportation Program manager

Some of the highlights from the survey include:

  • 85% of owners use their PEV as their primary car, driving an average of 802 electric-fueled miles per month.

  • Roughly two-thirds of vehicle charging takes place in off-peak hours (between 8 pm and 8 am).

  • In San Diego, favorable utility rates result in some PEV owners paying equivalent to $0.90 to $1.90 per gallon of gasoline to power their electric vehicles.

  • 39% of the state’s PEV owners have also invested in home solar energy systems, helping to power their vehicles with renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • In addition to charging at home, 71% of PEV owners report having access to either public or workplace charging or both.

  • Plug-in vehicle owners report they are willing to pay 40% – 70% more for public charging compared to standard residential electricity rates; they also are prepared to pay 2.5 to 3 times more for “critical need” public charging than they are for daily charging.

  • About 70% of respondents reported having access to either workplace or public charging or both. Of these, about 90% reported they had access to free charging.

  • Most of the PEV owners in this survey (91%) have Level 2 equipment at home, and the 70% that have access to public or workplace charging are primarily using Level 2 charging, as very few DC fast chargers have been deployed in California.

  • 54% of California PEV owners have household incomes of $150,000 or more; 25% have household incomes of $100,000–$150,000. 91% reside in a single-family home with attached garage.

CCSE and ARB, in partnership with other key stakeholders, plan to conduct additional surveys in support of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The ARB funds the project, and CCSE administers it throughout the state. CVRP provides cash incentives to individuals, businesses and others throughout California for the purchase or lease of battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. CVRP rebates range from $1,500 to $2,500 for highway-capable passenger vehicles.

Funding for CVRP is provided through the California Air Resources Board (ARB) via revenue from vehicle and vessel registration and smog abatement fees, with project funding legislated through 2015. Each year, ARB conducts a competitive solicitation process to select a CVRP administrator. The California Center for Sustainable Energy has managed the Project since launching the program in March 2010.

Approximately $23 million in CVRP funds were distributed to more than 8,000 Californians from March 2010 to July 2012. Project funding for fiscal year 2012 – 2013 is expected to exceed $20 million. Throughout 2011, the majority of CVRP rebates were distributed to owners of a single vehicle model, the Nissan Leaf. However, with the introduction and eligibility of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in early 2012, such as the low-emission package Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Plug-in Prius, a greater level of vehicle and manufacturer diversity within the project was achieved.



Quote ''91% reside in a single-family home with attached garage.''

This economic model is just a small portion of the global market. You need a house and a big driway and a garage to be able to buy a bev and charge it, what about the apartment dwellers ? Also all these folks keep their gasoline cars and that didn't been registered
in that survey. They are just green wannabee having fallen by state subsidies brainwash political campaing and they will try to resale their bevs after a bad experience of ownership.


The future will proof AD very wrong.

Bob Wallace

"What about apartment dwellers?"

They park somewhere, either in their apartment parking lot or along the street. We can install outlets in either place.

A simple outlet with card-swipe billing. That is not high tech. Charge a small additional fee over the price of the electricity and pay off the unit in a few years.

(I suspect the present is proving AD wrong.)


I think 91% says that wreless charging option would be necessery moving PEV outside single-house area.


"They are just green wannabee"

Most Model S buyers are now driving gas guzzling BMW's and Audis. Hardly green wannabee's. But then again, the ideology is strong in you. You see what you want to see.


But gorr/AD,

You're forgetting that there are about 70 million single family homes in America with their own garages so even that is a big portion of a major market.

You're Canadian so I'm sure you guys have a pretty good portion of single family homes yourselves.

And as Bob Wallace points out, it's not that hard to start installing units in apartment parking or along the street once the demand is there. One day, that will be a "feature" that apartments tout to draw tenants just as they put in a washer/dryer today. Big deal, same type of investment.


I am impressed that anyone even knows what AD is trying to say.

This survey confirms the common sense logic of PHEVs and their owners.

Yes, "It’s still early in the development of a robust PEV marketplace" but WAY ahead of the laughable "What would you do if you had a PHEV" surveys.

This is the future, played out by those willing to buy a PHEV now - and more and more will buy in as they get cheaper.

Can FCEVs compete with this? -

I don't see how, but if they want to try without my money, more power to them.

Kit P

When ever I read something out of California, I think BS.. I try to keep an open mind.

Charging “(between 8 pm and 8 am). ” is a good way of taking advantage of more efficient baseload and wind. However, then they state 'home solar energy systems, helping to power their vehicles with renewable energy'. That is when PV does not work.


“California produces the bulk of its electricity with efficient and low-carbon natural gas. ”

Made with imported NG. NG is the second highest ghg emissions for making power. California imports a large portion of its power.


“802 electric-fueled miles per month ”

802 x 12000 = 9,624,000 miles per month

@ 40 miles per gallon, that is 9624000 miles/40 miles/gallon = 240,600

“he current electric vehicles in the state save approximately 350,000 gallons of petroleum every month”

That is because the state assumes 26 mpg.


How many 40 mpg cars can be purchased to 1/3 the cost?

Of course it is not really a study but a survey. The data is very questionable. If I want to know the benefit of BEV how would you do it. First you would have the drivers record each trip with miles driven. Then you would have them record the time of charging and kwh.

Of course the survey did not ask any questions to determine the actual energy benefits.


The present and recent past have proven AD to be an ideologue completely out of his depth, likely someone who got his education on the issues from guests on talk radio shows.  For instance, he read/heard something about "impedance mismatch" and assumes he understands everything necessary to know.

Twït P is better, but he presumes to know what the EV drivers would be using in lieu of electricity.

Knowing what EV owners actually do is very worthwhile.  More worthwhile would be a system to coördinate charging with availability of power, so that e.g. sudden front passages and daily insolation peaks are managed on the demand side rather than inefficient throttling of other generators.

Last, that 12,000 number is interesting.  If each one has a 6.6 kW grid connection that's roughly 80 megawatts of potentially schedulable load already, and it's increasing by about 6.6 MW/month.  Simply being able to turn chargers off on demand would be a substantial amount of "spinning reserve", and that ignores V2G.

Roger Pham

Good points, E-P.
Knowing what PEV's owners have access to is very worthwhile, like 70% have access to charging at work or public or both, and that the average mileage driven is 26 /day. This means that a PHEV with a 20-mi AER can be driven mostly on electricity daily when charged twice daily, for up to 40 miles, which is well above the average of 26 miles. A 20-mi PHEV would strike a perfect balance between purchasing cost, weight, internal space and would be far more desirable than a 40-mi AER like the Volt, as I've suggest here some years ago upon the arrival of the Volt. This means that PHEV's sales will accelerate much faster than before, upon the arrival of the Ford C-Max Energi PHEV which seems to strike a perfect balance.

Of course, with increasing popularity of PEV's, eventually almost all work places will offer some parking spaces with a charging socket. Petroleum is again increasing in price and that certainly will maintain a healthy growth of PEV's. Then, PEV's will come out with a plug out to act like a portable generator in emergency power outage, or for camping in the wilderness, and then, PEV's and especially PHEV's will be "must-have" item for most people.

Those who are good in math will realize that the coming Ford C-Max Energi, at current pricing, will save roughly ~$10,000 in overall cost for the owner for the life of the car, in comparison to the non-hybrid C-Max. Additional icing on the cake!


"Plug-in vehicle owners report they are willing to pay 40% – 70% more for public charging compared to standard residential electricity rates;"

This is why commercial charging services have a very doubtful future.. I suspect 40-70% higher rates are not enough to support such a business.. and free chargers are not helping either since people get addicted to free stuff and are then reluctant to pay for it.


If on-peak rates are 30¢/kWh, a 70% premium is 21¢/kWh.  A quick 20 kWh charge would have $4.20 gross margin for the seller (about $10 to the buyer).

A quick search finds a gross markup for gasoline sales of ~16¢/gallon, so such a sale would be equivalent to about 25 gallons of gasoline.  The retailer would avoid any environmental costs associated with liquid fuels, especially interest on money for installed tanks and the reserves for their removal.  By comparison, selling electricity looks pretty attractive at first blush.


Let's not forget that we create the early morning and early evening peak demands. Early morning showers turn ON millions of 4.5 KW hat water heaters. Since recent hot water tank can keep hot water for 48+ hours, It would be relatively easy to delegate its operation to the grid operator. The same can be said about many other loads such as cloths dryers, space heaters, EV batteries etc.

It is evident that better managed loads would increase the e-network overall efficiency, reduce GHG emissions, lower energy cost and make electrified vehicles more beneficial.


correction...hat water heaters....should read hot water heaters...


"If on-peak rates are 30¢/kWh, a 70% premium is 21¢/kWh. A quick 20 kWh charge would have $4.20 gross margin for the seller (about $10 to the buyer)"

I suspect the survey takers were thinking of $0.12kWh base rates and an added profit of $0.08kWh. Many over at the Leaf forum got upset when Blink started charging $1 and $2 per hour for charging, it used to be free.


You're forgetting that there are about 70 million single family homes in America with their own garages so even that is a big portion of a major market. flats in london


California PEV owners also have a high adoption rate of solar power, with 39% of respondents currently owning solar and 31% considering solar installations within a year. london apartments for rent

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