By Stephen Edelstein

Models from Tesla are driven more on a daily basis than other electric cars, according to a new study. But the study also found that EVs are generally driven less than gasoline cars, raising questions about their effectiveness as internal-combustion replacements.

A team of researchers from the University of California Davis, University of California Berkeley, and University of Chicago looked at electricity-meter measurements and EV registration records for California—home to about half of the electric cars in the United States.

The study found that an EV increased household electricity consumption by by 2.9 kilowatt-hours per day which, adjusting for out-of-home charging, translated to about 5,300 vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) annually. That’s roughly half as large as EV driving estimates used by regulators, and half as large as annual VMT for gasoline cars, researchers said.

This indication that electric cars are being driven substantially less than internal-combustion cars implies that EVs really aren’t directly replacing gasoline.

“The takeaway here is not that EVs should never or will never be our future,” Fiona Burlig, assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “It’s rather that policymakers may be underestimating the costs of going fully electric.”

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