By Kelsey Tamborrino
In the shadow of Super Bowl Sunday’s much-talked about electric car ad from GM, new data released this morning provides estimates of electric vehicle home charging and finds EVs are getting less use than expected.
Researchers for the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago examined hourly electricity meter measurements and address-level EV registration records from 2014 to 2017 in California, the state home to about half the EVs in the U.S., and found that one vehicle increases household electricity consumption by 2.9 kilowatt-hours per day — less than half the 7.2 to 8 kWh per day assumed by state regulators. That discrepancy could “adversely affect decisions about electricity distribution infrastructure investments, as well as lead to biased estimates of EV-related pollution abatement benefits,” the report states. “The implications relating to [electric vehicle miles traveled] are also far-reaching.”
To translate its estimates into electric vehicle miles traveled, the report found EVs average 5,300 miles traveled per year, which is “substantially lower” than vehicle miles travel in gasoline-powered cars — raising questions, the authors wrote, over the true extent of EV usage at present and the role of gasoline and electricity prices on EV usage. The researchers also found that Teslas consume almost double the amount of electricity per hour than the other types of EVs studied, likely due to various factors like Tesla’s higher battery capacity. And, they found that the majority of EVs’ pull on the power grid occurs between 10 p.m.-6 a.m., which puts more of the load on California’s gas plants, which run more at night, compared to the solar energy power resources that provide clean power during the day.