By Ben Geman
Electric vehicle owners in California drive them less than half as many miles annually as the average gasoline-powered car in the U.S., a new analysis shows.
Why it matters: The finding “raises important questions about the potential for the technology to replace a vast majority of trips currently using gasoline,” the working paper concludes.
- The estimates are important for assessing the climate and pollution-cutting benefits of EVs, and have implications for investment decisions about power distribution equipment, it states.
How it works: The paper syncs data from a big sample of residential meters in the Pacific Gas & Electric service area with addresses of EV registrations in 2014-2017.
- Study authors with the University of Chicago and the University of California explored how much home electricity use changes after the EV purchase.
- They then used this data to estimate how much these EVs were being driven, factoring in estimates of out-of-home charging.
By the numbers: Power consumption growth is about 2.9 kWh per day, which is a 16% rise over average daily usage in the PG&E meter sample.
That’s less than what would be expected if EVs were used in a way akin to traditional cars.
- “Given the fleet of EVs in our sample…this translates to approximately 5,300 electric vehicle miles traveled (eVMT) per year,” the paper finds.
- The power use is much less than prior estimates by California regulators, the working paper notes.