Published on August 21st, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


<100 Miles of Range Better For Electric Car Consumers, Study Finds

August 21st, 2014 by  

One of the biggest challenges the EV revolution faces, in my opinion, is not technical at all. It’s mental readjustment. Sure, gasmobiles have greater range, but that range is practically useless 95% or 99% of the time. The idea that we need that extra range is often illogical.

In the US, the average commute is 25 miles. If you don’t have a way to charge at work, you’d need your car to have 50 miles of range plus a bit more for any extra trips you may take on the way home (and to not end up empty right at the end of your return home). But, for the most part, many of us are not going to drive another 25 miles in a day. Even so, if we add on another 25 miles, that’s still just 75 miles.

I understand that some people make very long drives on a regular basis, but that’s really not the norm. And when we do, it’s easy enough to rent a car or trade with a friend or family member.

Image Credit: Nissan

Image Credit: Nissan

Still, the widely held assumption is that your car needs to have hundreds of miles of range. This is parroted time and time again across the media and almost any time the topic of electric cars comes up outside of a circle of electric car enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, I don’t have data on the following matter, only anecdotes, but I’ve heard on several occasions from Nissan LEAF owners that they planned to charge their cars every night but they ended up charging every other night. In other words, a Nissan LEAF’s 84 miles of range is enough for two days of driving, but even early adopters often don’t realize this.

100 Miles of Range Not Needed

Getting down to the news of the day, a new study from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) finds that until battery costs get down to $100 per kWh, most US consumers would be better off buying an electric car with less than 100 miles of range rather than paying more for more range.


While it gets criticized a lot for its lower range, something tells me Nissan had strong, solid reasons for offering an affordable electric car with under 100 miles of range, rather than trying to offer unnecessary range at a higher price.

Regarding the study, the press release notes: “The electric driving range of a BEV is optimized separately for each of the 36,664 sample drivers who represent U.S. new car drivers. It is based on their individual driving pattern and household vehicle flexibility.” More info can be found at the link.

However, Nissan was expecting much greater sales of the LEAF, and had to backpedal on some projections. I think the reason for that was a simple one, and that would be…

People Are Illogical

Back to where I started: the issue is mostly that people think they need much more range than they actually need. An electric car with less than 100 miles of range is adequate for most people, but it’s hard to get used to the idea, and to even realize that simple fact.

As some of our readers have said on multiple occasions, once most electric cars have a range of 100 miles or more, people will probably feel more comfortable with the idea (an extra digit somehow means something mentally).

However, with education, a lot more people could realize that 84 miles of range is plenty. For anyone reading this who’s in the media, it’s important to realize that you don’t just report on the world; you also influence the world. Repeating the range anxiety meme over and over has an effect. Communicating the fact that 84 miles of range is plenty for a huge number of people also has an effect. Go with the latter.

Anyhow, I’m eager to open this topic up to readers. Do you think we can turn the tide and get a lot of people to realize that they don’t need 100+ miles of range? Do you think electric car manufacturers should skip past logic and facts and simply cater to consumer feelings about the need for their cars to have a range of 100 miles or more (or 150/200 miles or more as some people contend)? Do you think Nissan has nailed it and should just keep going with that, helping consumers to understand that they can do what they need and want in a LEAF, and hoping that word of mouth will lead to strong growth? Or do you agree with Tesla’s assumption that electric cars should have 200 miles of range or more?

Electric cars are already cheaper for a lot of people (I’d guess most people), a much nicer drive, much more convenient to own, much better for our health and environment, much better for our energy independence and energy security, and much more fun to drive. Do they really need a range that is unnecessary 95% or 99% of the time?

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Greg

    Sorry but I need ~150 mile range to consider electric. I have a 40 miles commute each way, in the mountains. I don’t want to be worried about the final 10 miles of my drive home every day.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “most US consumers would be better off buying an electric car with less than 100 miles of range rather than paying more for more range”

      ” An electric car with less than 100 miles of range is adequate for most people”

      Most all.

      I’ve got about a 125 mile RT to the grocery store. I have to climb 3,600′ on the way home. I am also not one of the “most”. Our time will come.

  • Bob_Wallace

    It’s way too hard to predict what EV batteries will cost even ten years down the road. There are a lot of companies working very, very hard on being the company that brings the best battery to market and makes an incredible fortune.

    We could see capacities rise so that a high capacity/range battery is no larger, contains no more materials, than today’s ~80 mile range batteries.

    My thinking is that in the sort term a 200 range is what we should be shooting for in an affordable (non-luxury) car.

    Plenty for almost all our driving and gives the ability to drive over 500 miles in a single day with only two moderate charging breaks. Driving a fueled car one is likely to stop just about as much for fuel, meals, etc.

    • Yes, quite hard. That’s where the past is a good predictor. Elon musk evidence: -30% by 2020, and 7.25% per annum battery improvement from initial roadster battery to the upcoming upgrade. Batteries are chemistry, not electronics. In electronics fast progress came from miniaturization and less energy per instruction. Our problemem here is that passengers can’t be miniaturized. Physiscs are such that bring 5 passengers from A to B at 70 miles/hour will still require the same energy in 30 years. So a full 200 miles range in winter with 4 passengers and luggage on board, at 70 miles/hour and 10 miles margin may take about 15-20 years (3-4 fold improvement). But if you also accept subsidies should have been gone way before that date, it might even be a bit longer to get down to same net cost as today (I hope I’m a bit too pessimistic there). Then the issue of mass (super)charging EVs at peak times will become a though one. Modular range extender will still be a good idea at that time, and they will possibly carry a fuel cell, an aluminium(or lithium) air battery, or burn synthetic fuel! All vehicle/battery sizes will exist. It’s just more likely that affordable cars will have a 44kWh battery than an 85kWh hour one.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Don’t ignore the possibility of one of the many anode/cathode improvements now working in labs making it to the factory and quickly increasing capacity.

        “the issue of mass (super)charging EVs at peak times will become a though one”

        Not really. TOU pricing will mean that most people will charge when overall demand is lowest. Smart chargers will allow people to plug in when parked and effortlessly charge with the cheapest power available.

        • Again I agree fully on night charge. But remember the 5% (or less) peak usage. What will happen on that motorway service station half way to some nice resort on a peak week-end, with tens of of EVs willing to charge their 100 kWh battery in 20 minutes ? It’s again a matter of marginal cost for building the grid capacity and peak power production capacity. Better use EVs to smooth grid peak demand through their batteries rather than increasing it on occasions.
          I’d be delighted to see as early as possible twice as large batteries with same weight and half the price!

          • Bob_Wallace

            First, overall demand drops on weekend and holidays as many businesses close.

            Second, solar even in modest amounts destroys midday wholesale prices on sunny days. Look at what has happened in Germany on sunny days…

            The midday peak disappears. Wholesale electricity prices drop to late night levels.

            The average EV charging off a 240 vac outlet will need less than three hours of charging per day. That means that some can charge off cheap nighttime electricity and some off of cheap daytime electricity.

            People doing long distance driving on weekends/holidays will have their demand spread out simply due to the limited availability of charge points.

          • Limited availability of charge points brings us back to square one.
            We only disagree on a few percent. Satisfying this few percent is the true EV challenge. There will be many solutions in parallel which all contribute to EV finally getting through.

  • I do agree fully with the article. But it’s that “less than 5% long distance occurences” which stops buyers. Now, even 125 miles range would be too short in a few % of times. And 300 miles range is ridiculously expensive for the decades to come (and would still be short sometimes). In addition even “supercharging” the battery costs 30% more in terms of travel time. The solution I’m suggesting is a modular range extender, available for on demand rental. Then a 100 miles EV is fine 100% of the time, as opposed to just short of a 100%. See for those interested to have a look.

    • leafman

      I think one point is missed. People do not buy cars because of what they need to do, rather for what they MIGHT need to do. For example, most 4×4 SUV drivers never go off road but they still buy them. High value is placed on those “might need to (or occasionally need to)” functions and potential EV buyers won’t otherwise be convinced except in small numbers until they can be sure they can “if need to”.

      That 5% of journeys I can’t do is the likely reason for the majority of ICE drivers not to buy an EV.

      • Yes, and providing on board a solution for such very occasional trips is a huge marginal cost. That’s why a modular approach make sense: anytime you need to just rent a Tender from or (REX, Fuel cell or battery) and attach it to the EV.

        • leafman

          Mmmm… Range extender generator trailer – the fact that we may occasionally need to do this would give ICE drivers even more reason to ridicule us! (And not buy an EV). A 200 mile EV range may not make complete logical sense (5 – 10% of the time) according to this thread’s main theses, but for now it will make good market sense and this market driver is a must if the EV agenda is to take hold.

          • Don’t worry about people who pretend they will buy an EV when they match all ICE features. The fact is: the marginal cost of a battery for more range will never, ever match the marginal cost of a fuel tank. EVs matching all ICE features are a myth. But they do much better on many features! Would be a tragedy to try building trust (in vain) on a myth. The truth is always better. A better to find true realistic solutions and close this 5% gap !

          • Bob_Wallace

            “the marginal cost of a battery for more range will never, ever match the marginal cost of a fuel tank.”

            Boy, are you ever right!

            While being incredibly wrong.

            It’s not the cost of a fuel tank. It’s the cost of an engine plus cooling system, exhaust system, fuel system as well as the cost of fuel.

            Nissan, Tesla and others believe that EVs will become cheaper than same-model/feature ICEVs as economies of scale fully kick in.

            Even if they become only ‘same price’ or ‘slightly more’ to purchase people are going to switch. Some for cost per mile savings, some for performance, some for the ability to avoid gas stations.

            Most for all of the above.

          • leafman

            At the end of the day buyers need to trade off rarely used but valued utility against economy. The balance will be tipped either by improved EV mileage or by EV economy. If EV’s become cheap enough then people may be prepared to lose that 5 – 10% difference in utility, otherwise that gap needs to be closed I.e. better range.

          • eveee

            You are talking rationally. What is the cost if a rental plus EV over 5 years? Remember, we are talking about a 7000 dollar cost if ownership over 5 years. I can take 5 rental trios a year for that and still make out.

  • Marion Meads

    I think that really the biggest mistake of this study is that it revolves around the wrong type of chart and the wrong survey.

    So Zach and many others here has reached a dramatically wrong conclusion because the chart is a frequency chart of number of trips. Hasn’t anyone realized that vast majority of the current ICE drivers make all kinds of mileage trips, both short and long?

    Therefore, the better question to ask would be to answer:

    How many times a month does your trip exceed 50 miles? How many times a year do you go on trips that exceed 50 miles?

    Then you can answer how many drivers have trips that are all within 50 miles in a month and in a year. And you can also answer how rare are the particular group of drivers that have trips that require driving more than 50 miles in a month or in a year.

    While the trips that are more than 50 miles might be less than 15% in the trip frequency chart, but the number of drivers requiring at least one trip that is more than 50 miles would be the vast majority.

    The survey should be revised and the questions posed correctly.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “How many times a month does your trip exceed 50 miles? How many times a year do you go on trips that exceed 50 miles?”

      That is what the chart shows. Except it covers a year and not just a month.

  • albatrosMyster

    The thing is, when you go out of town every second week-end or so, you may not want to rent a special fuel car for these longish trips… and there are so many factors that make a car like the leaf drive much below the advertised distance, cold being an important and common one where I live.

    I much prefer to wait until Tesla comes up with a car that has a good range at a decent price (I.E move the gas budget into the car budget and you are done).

    Until then pluggable hybrids offer a good compromise, if you can afford them.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If you go out of town every second weekend or so then you are not the typical driver. If you drive more than 100 miles on Saturday and more than 100 on Sunday that would be around 15% of daily trips >100 miles.

      The percent of daily drives over 100 miles is much lower than 15% and the green line is likely pulled higher by the people who drive a lot. My sister used to be a sales rep and would drive 150+ miles per day 3-4 days a week.

      • Marion Meads

        You’ve interpreted this wrongly Bob! You reached a dramatically wrong conclusion. You concluded that drivers who go out of town at least every other week is not a typical driver. The chart is not based on that. Think more intelligently on what the chart really tells us about.

        Now if you pose this better question to the same group of drivers: How many times a month does your trip exceed 50 miles? How many times a year do you go on trips that exceed 50 miles?

        I think the answer to this is more than 90% does exceed the more than 50 mile trip at least once and not 15%. It is based on your need to cover your typical driving range in month or in a year as you live out and enjoy life.

        The survey should be revised.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I don’t know why the survey should be revised. They took the driving records of 179,848 drivers (that is a huge sample size) and totaled out the number of days each driver drove 1 mile, 2 miles, …, 25 miles, …, 150 miles.

          Then they plotted it.

          20% of all driving days are longer than 55 miles. Less than 5% are over 150 miles.

          The average driver drives more than 100 miles in a single day about 8% of all days of the year. About 30 times.

          We can be pretty sure that there are high mileage drivers who are responsible for many of the high mileage days. There are people who commute more than 100 miles (RT) per day. I was one for a while.

          Someone who goes out of town every other weekend (I did assume they’d drive over 100 miles on Saturday and return on Sunday) is driving over 100 miles about 50 days a year. That’s on the high side and not a “typical” driver.

        • eveee

          Take a look at the paper I cited. It answers that very question. Unfortunately, it does it for 150 miles not 100 miles. It takes some digging, but its in there.

  • Jack Leonard

    The author seems to overlook that not everyone can afford a car capable of long range drives in addition to an EV that meets almost all their needs. I’m confident that science will find the solution, and develop the 500 mile EV one day–and hope they keep working on it.

    • I think the study authors were looking at data from ~37,000 actual people, and since a lot of people have more than one car, the conclusion is easy. However, I don’t think you need an extra car. Just need to use a rental car or swap cars with a friend once in awhile. But always depends on the individual.

    • eveee

      How much does a rental or zip car cost? Some people only use zip cars. How much does an old ice car cost? If you can’t afford those…. Then there is the lease EVA or used EV. If you can’t afford any of those, then go for high mpg used cars.

  • Marion Meads

    Someone here is very short on thinking. If you have been running short trip errands the whole day, and are left with 5 mile range, then your friend need is 30 miles away…. JoeTourist, what planet do you live on? Can we say that you really got back to reality?

    • I live on planet Earth Marion, and you are pulling figures out of the air.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “your friend (in) need is 30 miles away”

      That’s why we need some rapid chargers spread around.

      We’re assuming you don’t need to get there to save their lives. That’s a job for emergency responders and they’ll keep their batteries full and ready to go.

      Your friend might have to wait a few extra minutes. (30 miles is 5 minutes on a Tesla supercharger.)

      • Steve Grinwis

        Alternatively, plug your car in when you get home, between errands. An hour on a charger is enough to give a leaf about 20 miles of range, ish. So, an hour and a half spread out, over the course of the day, and you can go rescue your friend.

        Source: I’ve done this, with my EV.

  • JamesWimberley

    “People are illogical.” Sure, and Zach has Nobel prizewinner Daniel Kahneman to confirm it from solid experiments in many ways (link). But I don’t think this is one of them. One key principle in economics (of the traditional rational-agent sort) is that options have a value. A car represents options to travel where you want: freedom, if you like. A vehicle that would get you precisely to your work, children’s’ school, in-laws, and preferred supermarket, and nothing else, would be seen as a superior bus. You wouldn’t buy it – even if those are the only trips you ever take.

    • It’s not about getting a few places, it’s getting almost everywhere you go. The idea that you need 200 miles of range is absurd… for most people. Follow-up article coming. 😀

      And I would never deny that options have value, but so does doing some simple calculation and realizing that you drive a 100+ mile day almost never… again, for many if not most people.

  • Kyle Field

    I’m actually a bit surprised that nobody has put out an extended range car with a drop in pack for longer trips. Take the Leaf…add the option to drop in another 100 miles of range that would take up the trunk or one of the back seats…that would be amazing! Expensive, yes…but it would add tons of functionality that many “think” they need.

    • Me too.

    • Vensonata

      When I contemplate someone trying to “drop in” a 400 lb battery for the weekend I think we have eliminated a lot of people. It is, in fact, a great idea but…you know how people are…irrational, helpless, etc. So I’m thinking, get an after market battery increase custom made for your driving needs…if you drive a lot, you have to realize you have to pay a lot…otherwise, you’re irrational.

      • Kyle Field

        Great point. I hadn’t considered the weight issue though I still feel like this could be addressed. Selling cars with different fixed pack sizes seems to be a better option.

  • MSK

    First off, the Leaf is not an attractive car. Secondly, I live in a condo so can’t charge at home. Third, the car is expensive. Even with the federal tax credit, the Leaf is significantly more expensive than my Corolla and the fuel savings will NEVER make up the difference.

    • eveee

      Yes renters have a tough time. Of course you could do workplace charging instead. But it’s not as easy for you. The leased or used Leaf is the way to go. Renters have to wait for more units to come with chargers.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Sixteen percent of all US drivers are able to plug in at work or school. That number will expand. Employers will find it an expensive perk to install a metered outlet, or even a free outlet.

        Predatory employers will find employee-chargers to be a new profit point. (Here’s looking at you, Walmart.)

  • Try Finding Me

    Pure nonsense and the author has zero clue. It does not matter what the average commute is. I need to do the average commute plus the once in a while longer commute. The more range the better. 100 miles is better than 84, but not as good as 130. 130 is not as good as 150 which is not as good as 200.

    Again, the average commute is irrelevant. That one day when i had to drive 110 miles is that one day i think about. I don’t want to have to mess around renting a car. I want to simply hop in the car i already own.

    The more miles an EV can go the better, and the more which will sell. Same with hp, handling, breaking, quality, etc… Bigger, better, faster…

    • You seem to have missed the most critical point. The study authors wrote about what is better for consumers until batteries cost $100 per kWh. Of course a longer range is better, but there are tradeoffs here, and a lower price is more important than a lower range to more people. Whether or not you fall into that batch is really not the point.

      • leafman

        I drive a Nissan Leaf in the UK. It just about does what I want it to do (60 mile round trip most days), even after 60k clocked miles. Sometimes this comes with inconvenience such as planning, sitting at a charger or staying cold. If it is to compete then these “inconveniences” have to be minimised, and to do this it needs more than a 24kwh battery, or to be much lighter.

        I am also a bit mused by how statistics are being used. Averages apply to populations and not individuals. For example, if the average height of a man is (say) 5′ 10″ and 50% are shorter and 50% taller (normal distribution) then a high number of people don’t fit the case of average. Same applies to “average daily trips”.

        • Yeah, I’m going to follow up with a piece with more interesting statistics. I just threw in the average for some general perspective. The study didn’t deal with averages.

      • Will E

        What about inroad induction charging while driving. All highways get power lines for long distance, and the car gets a 100 miles battery pack. short distance driving is on car battery, long distance is connected to in road highway power lines. The train has this kind of power lines above and go anywhere without charging. Trucks drive everywhere on diesel. Make power lines above the highway for long distance EV trucks.
        and you have an electric road train.
        electricity from Solar and Wind power

        I totally agree that more batteries for more miles is not the way to go.

        • Steve Grinwis

          Inroad induction charging will be horribly expensive….

          Better off making lighter, more durable, cheaper batteries, which we’re already working on.

          What might make a lot of sense though, is inductive charging parking spaces. You park your car, walk away, and come back to a recharged car… If they can get the power output above 6 kW, that could be cool. I wonder what the feasibility is of an inductively coupled fast charger? You’d pretty much want at least 50 kW to make it reasonable for large range cars.

  • No way

    It’s illogical to think that people will lessen their comfort and quality in life. The aim should rather be to find solutions that works with the wants and needs of the people. It’s easy enough to do an EREV like the i3 REx which can cover 90+% of the trips on electricity but gives you the comfort and security of being able to go further when needed.

    For pure EV’s as the only car in a household at least 200 miles and less than 15 min. recharge are needed for it to not be a crippled version of a car.

    • The point is that a ton of people don’t need to lessen their comfort or quality of life. They simply need to add up how many miles of range they actually need. It’s much more convenient to charge up at home every other night than to go to gas stations, so an EV is a better product that improves quality of life. One of the biggest barriers is simply this “you need 200 miles of range” myth.

      • No way

        It’s not a myth. An <100 miles EV as an only car can be enough for most people for 70-90% of their trips
        To get those last 10-30% of miles driven where that range is not enough there will be inconvenience. It's possible to rent/borrow/etc. another car then but it is definitely not convenient, it takes more time and effort than using your own car.

        And what is a myth is that it's more convenient to plug it in everyday compared to going to the gas station for 5 minutes once every month or every other month.

        I'm very pro EV's but sometimes the green nuts 😉 are out of touch with reality and think adapting the person to the transportation solution is the way to go instead of adapting the transportation solution to the person.
        Here locally the green nuts are even worse, they believe that using or owning a car of any kind, EV or not, is horrible and work hard for no car to be used by anyone anywhere.

        I've done quite a few calculations for friends, family and co-workers which have resulted in them getting an EV of some kind but a <100 miles pure EV as an only car has never been the solution (and never will unless they are extremely green and willing to give up a lot of comfort).

        There are tons of people who have room for a short range pure EV within their needs though. There are plenty of people with more than one car in the household which can replace on of them without sacrificing any comfort.

        And that is why PHEV's and EREV's will outsell pure BEV's by many times the amount for the next decade or so. And why the Tesla Model 3 will be the first real mainstream BEV which your average family can use as first and only car.

        • eveee

          There is little inconvenience for a two car family. I knew I was behind the curve, when I met a friend, a curator with a low salary, who with her mate managed a Prius and a Leaf. The Leaf gave them free parking and low maintenance and fuel, the Prius, weekend trips and so forth. Free parking is also an adjustment. On the positive side. 🙂

          • No way

            That is brilliant. And in many countries a high percentage of households have 2 or more cars making it very simple to replace one of them.
            15-30% of the cars could be replaced by BEV’s with (almost) no loss in convenience in that way.
            And could we reach those percentages of total cars then we are really getting somewhere 😛

          • eveee

            The US is pretty much the transportation problem with carbon, but China is starting to do the same thing. And in the US, two cars are common.

  • Good points. Yes, how many car ads are set way off in the wilderness and rural open roads? So unrealistic, but commercial after commercial… That’s the biggest challenge, and I honestly think the biggest hurdle for EV adoption. Well, that and people calculating cost over a few years rather than on the price tags.

    • Kyle Field

      I know I personally take my Prius out to the rim of the Grand Canyon at least weekly (LoL!)

    • Carl Borrowman

      Interesting point with rural, they are a minority… “About 46.2 million people, or 15 percent of the U.S. population” still lives in rural areas according to a census last year. But I’m also guessing a lot of those people actually use a work truck, along with a lot of other workers in urban areas (vice just having a truck to ride around in). Still no solar work truck in sight.

      Another factor to consider is that the percentage of American households without a car has doubled over the last two decades.

      Here’s the thing about range situations that I can understand. If you only have one vehicle, wanting it to be able to go over 100 miles in range when you need it to is a reasonable expectation. And another thing, EV’s should be maturing sometime in the near future to be able to do that at a reasonable cost.

      People are illogical at times, but they can also perfectly logical in this case: the up-front cost of EV’s can still be prohibitively expensive to the point where it doesn’t pay for itself in savings over 10 years time, depending on usage.

      The wonderful thing about technology in general is that cost comes down over time while performance goes up. I expect nothing different when it comes to EV’s.

      In the meantime, keeping the old vehicle you already have, and simply reducing your consumption habits (which you might have to do anyway with an EV), may be just as good an option.

  • Thundter

    I agree, It’s not.

    If people buy a vehicle, they want it to cover 100% of the journeys they may want to make. How about to a holiday destination? and outlet centre? visiting relatives? How do they charge it along the way? How do they charge it when they get there? Even with websites posting charging point destinations, there are vast area’s with no charge points and even if there were, you still need to plan to get there. Until these questions are answered people will doubt EV’s.

    Additionally there’s the cost. EV’s tend to be a more expensive. Until EV’s are at least equal in all attrubutes to gas guzzellers, only the most green minded sacrificial individuals will consider them an vialble alternative.

    • EVs tend to be cheaper over 5 years, from what I’ve seen.

      They also have a better drive, which is what pulls in a lot of EV enthusiasts.

      As far as those long trips: if I drive within the city 99% of the time, why not just swap cars with a friend or family member or rent a car for those occasional trips? Then I get to drive electric 99% of the time. I think it’s not a matter of need at all but of perception and inertia.

  • djr417

    89 miles wont quite cut it for me. 120-150 would suffice. that and the ability to charge at home. for now the hybrid will have to do.

  • patb2009

    if i can plug in a module that adds 60 miles, of range, then the consumers can rent those before big trips.

  • eveee

    Why don’t we look at long distance trip frequency?

    Long distance trips are not limited to cars. This study found long distance trips (greater than 100 miles) were about .05% of all trips. Thats pretty low.–ppt/Intercity%20Travel%20Market%20Analysis.pdf

    Yep. Confirmed. Its irrational. Long trips account for less than 1% of all vehicle trips. Apologies to those who travel greater than 100 miles regularly, but your experience is an exception. For those that do regularly, an EV is not the best option as yet.

    We need some fine detail on the exact amounts. Even over 50 miles, the percent of trips is very low.

    Here is daily vehicle miles traveled per capita. Its less than 30 for most metropolitan areas.

    The most glaring observation is that vehicle transportation itself is declining altogether.

    This paper makes it clear in astonishing detail, how seldom any adaptation is needed.

    • Excellent. Honestly, I should have included all of this, but was already a long article. Think this is worth a follow-up.

      • eveee

        I am a complete nerd.

    • Marion Meads

      You glaringly FORGOT to mention the obvious: That long distance trips, from the same column where you got the lowest 0.05% of trips based on number of trips, constitute 19% of the total mileage of all trips!

      The 0.05% is an overhyped argument being marketed by pure EV fanatics. The reality is that 15%-19% of your total car mileage are long distance trips. How can they conveniently not tell you this?

      • … because it’s about frequency of need.

        Of course, you seem to be an exception/outlier.

        • Marion Meads

          Both factors should be considered, frequency and intensity, to get a more meaningful picture. Aside from the statistical average, variance would paint a much better picture of the demands for longer ranges rather than spotting and shooting down “outliars”.

          • eveee

            Yes its true. I don’t need an EV to have long range because there are two cars available and I can swap. One long range, but more expensive to fuel and maintain, and the EV is cheap for the bulk of the driving. And quiet and calm. But if you only have one, a hybrid or high mpg car works and there are lots of options that don’t break the piggybank, but get your from here to there in comfort.

      • eveee

        This is true and noted in some of those references I sited. First, most drivers and cars are in large cities, not country. For those in the country, an EV really is not an option. Most weekly driving is workday commutes and very short trips for shopping. A lot of time is spent, but the average speed in traffic is low. When those infrequent trips come up, the speed is much higher and people will spend 3 hours driving one way sometimes. That racks the total miles up. Thinking of it another way, how many free hours does one have to drive? Weekends? Vacation? Driving more than 3 hours is a lot. A six hour drive is an overnighter and definitely needs some time off. The statistics also show that the most long driving is in middle age. Very old and young tapers off.

      • eveee

        I posted the references so you could read them. For people with a gas and an electric car, there is a real advantage in costs, not to mention other advantages.
        “Meanwhile, the LEAF proved as much as $7,000 cheaper to run over five years compared to gasoline or hybrid cars.”

        Since the total miles is still balanced in the direction of short trips, there is a significant savings.

  • Steve Grinwis

    A short range is fine, so long as there is a strong fast charger network to enable the last 3% of trips.

    A longer range will let electric cars become more than secondary commute cars, and you will start seeing more people having two electric cars in the driveway, and have that be normal instead of a statement.

    If I could have purchased more range for my EV, I would have.

    • Vensonata

      Aren’t there places that drop an battery pack in the trunk for you? I’ve seen articles on them in the U.S.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Not that I’m aware of

  • TedKidd

    I bought automatic, but it doesn’t tell me my daily drive. I would really like to see this because I have no idea how often I go beyond that 65-70 mile mark. I think this is generally true.

    Since people generally have only vague idea of how much they drive, they will want a large margin of safety.

    My aunt and uncle have a Tesla. I suspect they have no idea either. That cars end of day range is usually 200 miles, rarely does it see 150, and its typically not set to range charge so it starts at 240 ish.

    • Nailed it.

      Just as we have no sense of many energy use matters, I fully agree that most of us don’t think about how much we drive and how many miles of range we need.

      I think I got a sense for it when I started bike commuting and was curious how far I was biking, but then lost a sense for it when I moved and used other modes of transport.

  • spec9

    Less than 100 is good enough for a 2 car family. Around 150 miles and a ZIPcar membership if you are a single car family.

    • We’re a 3-person family and have 0 cars because… we really have almost no need for a car. So, I think it really depends on a variety of factors, location and work location being most critical.

  • Charlotte Omoto

    It is true that on some days I don’t drive at all or only a couple of miles, but 2-3 times a month I need to drive 200 miles, and its nice not to have to worry about charging with a Tesla. Especially since I live in a rural area, even renting a vehicle is problematic. I also think having multiple vehicles for longer trips is actually more consumptive than owning one that can serve all my needd.

    • I hear this anecdote a lot. I can’t really imagine it. Driving 200 miles 2-3 times a month seems odd. I belie you, but am wondering, for what?

      • Marion Meads

        Visit friends, relatives, grandma, grandpa, go see the world, to the beach, to the mountains, attend weddings, funerals. They are not all conveniently located in your laptop screen. You have to drive there to be there and be a part of life. I guess many people who support pure EV don’t have a life beyond their 50 mile radius. The more real friends you have, the more you travel.

      • Charlotte Omoto

        It isn’t if you live in a rural area and the closest city is 90 miles away. Also my elderly father-in-law lives there, too. There has been times that we went to help him or visit him every week of the month, though this is not typical, 2-3 times, is though.

    • eveee

      When you travel 200 miles, do you begin after work at 7PM? That might be a challenge if you needed to add charge. Living in a rural area is definitely not the place for an EV. Its more like the place for a high mpg hybrid like a Prius.
      If its 400 miles round trip thats 3 hours in each direction. Thats a lot of hours of driving. I used to drive 2.5 hours one way about once a month or less. It was not too bad, but a little tedious.

      • Charlotte Omoto

        No, I am retired so I go in the morning and its 90 miles one way with driving around town then returning. But this is why I got a Tesla. This is easily done on a single charge with Tesla. And now with all the superchargers, I have made road trips to Seattle area, 300 mile one way and to Southern CA, all with no cost for fuel.

        • eveee

          Congratulations. I drove a Tesla, and visited the factory. Its library quiet and smooth as silk. Stunning really. I once drove an gas car 2400 miles in 3 days. Driving 2400 miles really gets one to thinking about miles of driving. Although one can drive intercity 400 miles, its inconvenient and time consuming. Some places, there is not much alternative. Driving 600 to 800 miles a day, showed me that about 3 hours or so is the limit for restroom breaks and/or food. That means about 200 miles. If you can recharge in a half hour, its not too bad. To drive 600 miles, its all day travel with two breaks and an overnite charge. I was always amazed that average speed never got to the speed limit because of stops and slowdowns.

  • Loren McDonald

    Focusing on the idea that shorter range is OK isn’t really the solution – consumers want that freedom that ICE cars have provided for nearly 100 years.

    The answer is right in front of us and that is plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt or BMW i3 with gas engine range extender. The idea that you can run most of the time on pure battery power, but when needed tap into the gas engine to recharge the EV battery.

    This is a realistic transitional approach to eliminating “range anxiety” while companies like Tesla work on producing 200 mile+ range batteries at an affordable cost. Unfortunately we will not end our use of fossil fuels for decades – but we will actually get to that point more quickly I believe, if we can move consumers into EVs (with gas back up) earlier, rather than waiting 10 years for affordable pure EVs with 300 miles or so range.

    • eveee

      What, and drag an ICE engine around? All the extra weight penalty, cost, and maintenance? its not worth it for the few days a year. The paper above concludes what the number of days with long trips are. For those days, which is least expensive, a rental or a car sitting idle most of the year? You will pay insurance and depreciation now matter how many miles driven.

      • Death89

        Being in the UK most EV’s are in the order of twice what you’d pay for a similarly cheap to run ICE, and as such they will not last long enough to come close to paying that back in savings on fuel.

        It’s the same as anything else, make them worth the price and they will sell. Until then they’ll remain a niche product.

        • Yeah, UK probably has a different story with the current price situation. Plus, average miles travelled in the UK is much lower than in the US, which makes “payback time” longer. I haven’t analyzed the UK situation in detail, but I gather that it’s at a different stage.

          • Death89

            Well when I looked into it recently a hire purchase (only way I could afford a brand new car) Renault Zoe works out at £259 per month before tax, insurance, charging, etc. whilst a Seat Ibiza with tax, insurance, and 110 miles of fuel a week works out at £30 less per month. And you keep the flexibility.

            No renting when you need to visit family, no hassle of degrading batteries (don’t know about average miles but with the housing situation here it seems very few people can buy a house close to their family – mine is at minimum a 40 mile round trip or to see my brother closer to 300).

          • Ah, see, I’d go with the Zoe in a heartbeat for the drive experience, convenience (charging at home instead of filling up on petrol regularly), health and environmental benefits.

          • Death89

            Forgot to mention that was the 1.4 Active cylinder version, which I’d imagine would also be quite fun. In reality I chose a golf bluemotion estate, second hand, as I do much more like 500 miles a week. Which over a similar HP period works out at £170 inc insurance, tax and my 2000 miles in a month will cost around £180 in diesel.

            I’d love an electric vehicle but unless it’s a diesel hybrid (also stupidly expensive) I doubt it’ll be in the next decade. Even if I didn’t have the high miles the prohibitive costs of renting to do longer journeys on top of such high costs to buy the Zoe would stop me.

          • That’s a lot of driving. Avg miles driven per year in the UK is 8,200 miles. You’re driving more than 3x more than that.

          • Death89

            Yeah. The thing I still don’t get is the idea that EV’s are ready for mainstream use in the UK. Some journalists think it’s fine as long as they can cover the mileage for the majority of users. Discounting the major disadvantage in range as irrelevant.

            If I had statistics that said 90% of people don’t need colour on smartphone screens and that a marginally longer lasting black and white smartphone was a better option for most people, despite it being between over twice the price, I’d be chased off the internet as a looney. “Why would you pay that for something so compromised?”

        • Marion Meads

          When you purchase your solar panel to cover the usage of EV, then it truly would be a lot of advantages over ICE. In fact, majority of the Volt and Leaf owners have or planning to have solar panels installed.

          • Death89

            Adding a further few thousand pounds to the cost of running a car. Even with government grants in the UK you’re unlikely to make a solar panel break even within your lifetime. The rates are so poor. Maybe if you live in a sunnier climate. But here It’s wishful thinking at best.

          • Vensonata

            You’re a few years behind methinks. In the uk and half of the u.s. it’s a better deal to charge with pv than grid.

          • Death89

            Well considering it cost our next door neighbours £8k for their solar panels (admittedly a couple of years ago but it won’t have gotten cheaper – nothing has here in the last few years) that’s gonna take years to get back.

            And it’ll only work of you have the space and money in the bank so it would seem to be a small number of people who would be able to make such an investment and be comfortable enough financially to wait for it to start making money.

            I stand by my point. It will take off when EVs are significantly cheaper To buy than ICEs because only then will the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I will look into charging off PV more deeply as this is the first I’ve heard of it but I remain a sceptic.

          • Keith

            recent quote with last month for 3kw system in Essex was £6000 pay back is 7yrs / 8yrs.

        • eveee

          If you can’t afford a new EV, a new ICE car may be out of the picture, unless you buy a really cheap one. New cars are not a good bargain in general. A used high mpg car or Leaf is.

          • Death89

            A Micra Visia is about half the cost of a leaf Visia. Until the EV is cheaper than it’s less compromised counterpart it will always be a luxury option. Never mainstream.

          • Steve Grinwis

            It’s not just the cost. It’s also the ongoing cost to operate…

            Those oil changes, gas stops, and maintenance items of your complicated ICE? They add up. EV’s will have to get cheaper, and by all reports, they quickly are, but an EV that is more expensive but cheaper in the long run is something that many consumers can understand, and appreciate.

          • Death89

            But if it takes 7/8 years to pay off the cost of a 6k PV installation it’ll take at least a further 5/6 years to pay off for having chosen an EV (and don’t try and suggest there’s no ongoing maintenance for an EV – anything mechanical will wear our, its just that when an EV does the replacement motor will probably cost twice what a replacement engine would), and by that time most people will have needed a new car anyway, so you’ll always be in deficit. Unless the EV is cheaper, so a leaf should be £6-7k to the micra’s £8k.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Whatever it is you’re smoking, I want some.

            There are a number of items that reduce the cost to operate:

            1) Electricity is cheaper than gasoline. By a lot. Like, a big lot. This is saving me nearly $2000 per year by itself vs it’s gas guzzling predecessor. I don’t need a solar array to provide power to my EV, and if I did, the standard account practice would be to consider each on it’s own merits, not require that the array pay for itself before the EV saves me anything. Funky eh?
            2) Maintenance is cheaper on an EV. The only maintenance on my EV is a once a year go over to check the batteries, brakes, etc… Compare that to a gas car that needs oil changes, transmission fluid changes, coolant changes, differential fluid changes, etc…
            3) Repair on an EV isn’t more expensive, and EV components are more durable. Don’t know why you think gasoline engines are cheap… The engine that was in my previous car was a direct injected gasoline engine, that cost in excess of $7000. But then, to install it was around 12 hours, so throw on another $1200 to that price. Contrast that with Tesla swapping out an entire drivetrain for the convenience of their customers, while they wait. Electrical motors are also really tough. They are composed of a single moving piece. There’s no high temperatures, no excessive vibrations, nothing of the kind. Sure, if you do blow a motor, it’ll be a few $k, but that’s still cheaper than a gasoline motor.

            Based on all that… it is cheaper to run an EV, even if it’s more expensive to buy. Depending on exactly how long they last, the current gen could be cheaper to own than comparable gasoline cars now. The Prius has proven insanely reliable. And EV’s are simpler…

          • Death89

            1) So you’re saving $2000 in fuel great, but with with the difference in price between the Micra and Leaf quoted before (nearly $20000 in your money) that means it’s still going to be 10 years before it breaks even, so my estimate was actually favouring EVs the reality you’ve supplied is worse.

            2) My service at a local garage costs me a little over £200 for every 20000 miles, seeing as the leaf is every 18000 miles and at £120 per service, I’d say that makes the total saving $2265 per year. So still just under 9 years before you break even. Not counting that the battery will need replacing so my estimates really aren’t that far out for the UK. Your electricity is also half the price of ours so again I don’t think I’m that far out.

            3) Given that they take so long to prove worthwhile they’d better be damn reliable, otherwise they’d never get to break even. So you need to keep the car at least 9-10 years before it becomes even the same cost as an ICE car by which time the rest of the car will be rather tired and will most likely need changing so you (at least with current prices) never save money with an EV. As I keep saying, in order for them to be a cheaper option – even in the long run – they need to drop the huge (remember £12000/$20000 extra vs equivalent ICE) premium currently being charged.

            If you’re detecting a hint of bitterness/jealousy you’re right. I’d love an EV but until it actually becomes a financially viable option I can’t have one, not having the disposable income to wait 10 years for a return on my investment.

            And that’s not including the solar panel, which I was only referring to since someone else mentioned it.

          • Steve Grinwis

            A few additional things made my EV a no brainer:

            1) I didn’t buy a leaf. I bought a Smart ED. This has a starting price of just $27k, and there was a dealership incentive of $4k off it. I also bought a dealer demo, which knocked off an additional $2k. Net price: $21k.

            2) There is an $8500 government rebate for electric cars in my region. Net price: $12500

            3) Gas prices are going to rise over the next 10 years. Historically, prices have risen by about $0.08 cents per year. Right now, gas is about $1.30 / liter. In 10 years, it will be $2.10 / litre.

            These three things combine to make my estimated payoff time compared to an $8k Micra around 2 years. 6 years from now, I expect the savings to be closer to $2500 per year. At 10 years from now, it’ll be $3000 per year. This all assumes that there is no carbon tax. If that were to come in, it would immediately and drastically change the math in EV favor.

            I think the biggest thing is if your country doesn’t have an EV rebate. That is obviously a huge part of the savings for me.

      • Loren McDonald

        evee – your views make sense to someone who is an EV supporter, perhaps lives in the city, etc. But consumers are very irrational when it comes to many considered purchases, most notably cars. How many of us drive BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus, Audis, etc – when a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord would work just fine getting us from point A to Point B. So have this conversation with a suburban soccer mom with 3 kids in California, who drives a big SUV that makes her feel safe and she knows she can drive the kids to the beach, to the mountains, or friends to the wine country or whatever – and not have to think about range of battery charge. I agree on the few trips that most of drive that are longer than 100 miles or whatever – but as consumers we don’t buy for reality – we buy because for freedom, luxury, safety, image or whatever. EVs will truly cross the chasm when a soccer mom doesn’t feel like she is giving up something to own an EV. I wish the world could go to pure EVs tomorrow – but this transition from pure ICE to pure EV – is going to decades. I might be wrong, but I just think that one way to get there more quickly is to make that transition really easy for the average consumer – and that might be via BHEVs.

        • eveee

          What does it cost to drive an SUV only occasionally and drive it with no passengers? Not just he owner, but the whole society? And who is subsidizing this? Large SUVs are expensive. So who is catering to this insanity? Tesla. And it works. While we idly chat about it, Tesla just hooks up the irrational needs to a ready market. How many of those Tesla Model S owners travel 200 miles? How often are they just charging between 70% and 80% of capacity?

        • eveee

          I think the point of the article is well made. Consumers are irrational. Thats why Tesla is building an SUV first. People will buy it. One can make the argument that none of these vehicles is practical. Thats not really what its about. Its the reason vehicles have such lousy aerodynamics. You can tell people that the shape is why they get 20% better mileage. They will complain and buy something else. Then they will complain about the mileage. Case in point, Hummer owners complaining about the mileage.

      • Marion Meads

        The ICE can be made very light, there are now many efficient generator sets being designed with a much more direct magnetic induction along the cylinders to make the conversion efficient and there is no need for other unnecessary parts. With these lightweight gensets, the best thing really is to have them easily attachable/detachable. If you need them on long trips, attach them, and when you don’t need to leave them in your garage. Ran out of range?, call in AAA and have them attach one under the hood or trunk and you are off on your merry way. and if the fuel cell unicorn is born, that would even be better as a range extender. And with this genset, imagine that during calamities like hurricane Katrina and Andrew, you can merrily roll along, and you can supply needed electricity from your genset. You go camping, you have the genset too.

        • eveee

          The towed genset idea seems to make sense, but has never caught on. Manufacturers must deal with emissions regulations that are very restrictive and this complicates things. BMW has the i3 with an on board backup, and there is the Volt as alternatives. The Prius PHEV also does that, but the EV range is shorter. People have been playing with the range extender idea for some time. Maybe the towed genset idea will catch on. Right now, there are not enough EVs to interest manufacturers in the idea. The problem for the interim technologies is that they are caught with a limited timespan to pay back development costs because batteries are getting better and range is getting longer. I think there is room for both with a gradual shift between the two. What form it will take is anyones guess.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I start from the assumption that car manufacturers have a lot more information than I do. They get to sit down with battery manufacturers, under the cover of non-disclosure agreements, and learn what is likely to make it from the lab to the road.

            And I assume that they have people working on the problem who are as smart as I am. OK, smarter than I am.

            Now, there are a number of ways we could get long range EVs (not counting range extending engines/fuel cells).

            There’s battery swapping. Obviously works.

            There’s towing a genset. Many designed and prototyped.

            There’s wireless charging while underway. Demonstrated.

            What I see is car manufacturers doing nothing in the swapping/towing/wireless field. They’re just sticking with batteries. And that leaves me suspecting that most car manufacturers believe it only a matter of time before we have much higher capacity/cheaper batteries.

          • eveee

            Yes. I think the article is correct. It does not contradict the American love of travel. Its just puts it in perspective. And present day EVs are not for everyone. The dynamic between range and cost will continue. Supposing the Tesla model 3 has a base car with 100 mile range at 25k, and an upgrade to 150 for 35k. Does everyone automatically buy the 35k car? I don’t know. From a manufacturer perspective, they have to hit the center pretty well with their highest volume. For luxury cars, like the Tesla, there was no point in the smallest pack, so they dropped it. This will not be true in the low price field. There will be a certain minimum that must be met. Then there will be extra cost performance. The problem now is that highway range is much lower. This is really stupid because the aerodynamics of all EVs except Tesla is not very good, around 0.3. Even Tesla does not have the aerodynamics of an EV-1. Why have we gone backward? The same irrationality. Thankfully, the Prius has been accepted by the market. But not universally.

            “Arguably, the 1983 Audi 100 started it all – at least in post World War II times. The Audi was the first car for many decades that combined a relatively unremarkable appearance with a very low drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.30.”

            Thirty years later we make EVs with the same drag coefficient.


          • Bob_Wallace

            Kind of hard to make a rational comparison between the Tesla or Prius and the EV-1. Better to stick with similar interior capacity.

            The EV1 was a two passenger car while the Tesla can carry seven (assuming a couple are children).

          • eveee

            Point is well taken on the different function of the vehicles.Cd is independent of size or capacity. It could be a jumbo jet and it would not matter. Tesla is a huge market success compared to the EV-1.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I suppose what I was trying to get at was the EV1’s opportunity to taper off rapidly, thus (I think) dropping its Cd. The Tesla S maintains cross section size longer in order to allow rear seat volume.

            (I may have those terms all mixed up. I’ll draw pictures.)

          • eveee

            There are some rules of thumb about the way a body reduces volume on the back end of an aero body. The article I linked has nice discussions and revealed some things I was not aware of. In general, you want the pressure to build and release smoothly and as slowly as possible. We generally are aware of the ideal teardrop or cigar shape. The EV-1 has an advantage as a two seater with its taper flowing to a smaller point at the back. If it is not a cone at the back, the ideal is to have a sharp cut off or kammback.


            This creates a swirl behind the car that tends to route the area in a cone behind it, as if it did have a tail.

            The link to the aero has stalled article has several other articles that show the front tires, and the engine cooling are major contributors to drag, and how to improve them.

            If you look at really aerodynamic cars, you will see they have devices that route the air away from the front surface of the tire. Read the links about underbody…

            I don’t know if anybody can stand being as nerdy as me 🙂

            Here is an amazing car. The Opel Calibra. Cd 0.26

            he eight valve model was, however, the most aerodynamically efficient Opel ever, with a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.26.[5] It remained the most aerodynamic mass production car for the next 10 years, until the Honda Insight, along with the Audi A2, were launched in 1999, with a Cd of 0.25.[citation needed] All later 16V, V6, 4×4 and turbo models had a worse Cd of 0.29, due to changes in cooling system, underbody, use of spoked wheels and glass detail.[6]

            Notice how they ruined it with junk.


            The EV-1 land speed record car had smooth front wheel covers and rear wheel skirts as does almost every Bonneville speed car.

            More nerds like me.. and info…


            Tesla is trying to get the states to allow rear cameras instead of outside mirrors. I think the way to do that is to put retractable mirrors and cameras until the lawmakers catch up. Even Tesla makes concessions to style with spoked wheels and no rear wheel skirts. Oddly, wheel skirts where popular at one time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thanks for all that. I’ll dig into it later this evening.

            In the meantime are you familiar with the car modeled after the boxfish?

            ” Mercedes-Benz reported a drag coefficient of 0.19;[2] for comparison, the production vehicle with the lowest ever Cd value was the GM EV1, at 0.195. While the Bionic had a much larger internal volume than the EV1, the Bionic’s larger frontal area made the EV1 more aerodynamic overall, as drag is a product of the area and the drag coefficient.”


          • eveee

            The taper rate has a rule. Faster taper gives turbulence. Slower adds no benefit. Then the amount if taper matters. I suspect you are referring to the taper amount for Tesla not being as great and so not reducing the area at the tail as much as EV-1. Impact also narrowed the rear wheels as did insight, in an attempt to further teardrop the shape on the sides.

    • Marion Meads

      One of the biggest advantage of a genset, which I hope there will be an excellent aftermarket modification, is to use it to supply electricity to your house, community or the grid in times of need during calamities or extraordinarily peak demands. You can go camping to the remotest part, and have electricity. The genset can be fuel cell based if ever that technology comes down to sanity prices. But there are excellent developments for genset that are specifically designed as range extenders. And these have many uses. We can practically be off-grid too as these can supplement solar and wind when called for.

  • Vensonata

    To give the leaf a full one hundred miles would cost an extra $1000, would anyone really notice the price difference? No. Would they notice the range difference? Yes.

    • eveee

      I think the vehicle would be much heavier and then the law of diminishing returns sinks in. I rather think that there is much waste in the design of EVs. For example, everyone notes that highway range is much lower. So what do we see for EV coefficient of drag? Except for Tesla, near 0.3. A Prius is better. Its pointless to add more battery instead of making the car more slippery. Aero drag is two thirds of highway drag.

      • Am surprised the car designers haven’t been “able” to get the coefficient of drag down lower. Obviously, Tesla has, but why not everyone else?

        • eveee

          Consumers. Go figure. I think part of the problem is that manufacturers do focus groups and come up with ridiculous requests. Like an SUV that can tow a boat and gets 50 mpg. They want 50mpg but also want to festoon vehicles with roof racks and have large open wheel wells. Its not a rational market.

    • Good point. I’m behind that… if the math is right.

      • Vensonata

        There are EV modification places out there that have packs they drop in to the trunk of the Leaf. It is a very simple operation, I don’t have the price on hand, but that might make an article in itself…the easy solution on an individual basis to increasing range in a “one size fits all” EV.

        • yeah, we’ve covered this sort of thing a few times.

  • Ronald Brakels

    A lot of electric cars, at least for now, are going to be a second car in a two or more car household. And as such range anxiety is not really an issue. They will be used as town cars and for most people’s purposes the range of say a Leaf will be more than sufficient. Yes, for people with a 200 mile commute they may not be suitable. For those people I would suggest moving or changing jobs. There are other ways to avoid your family than driving. The electric car market may end up with two main streams. Long range cars that can use quick charging and basically have no more range problems than current gasoline cars and cheaper short range town cars. And there’s always the option of a hybrid car for those rare people who are constantly on the highway and can’t bear the thought of stopping even for a quick charge.

    Now personally I think it won’t be long before self driving cars completely redefine our experience of driving anyway, but I guess that’s another story.

    PS: I think there may possibly be a third stream of electric cars consisting of ultra light cars with short range batteries and solar PV for range extension and off grid charging which may take off in sunnier and less rich countries. But again, another story.

    • eveee

      Yes. The irony of this is that those looking for a vehicle often already have a gas vehicle. For them it may be down to which is cheaper, a second vehicle or a rental vehicle. There I suspect a large majority would find the rental cheaper. Then there are Zip cars and all that. In one way, the whole conversation is strange. Vehicle miles travelled is sinking because its so expensive.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Good point. Complaining that electric cars don’t have enough range while being unable to afford to drive gasoline cars isn’t the brightest of activities.

    • Always insightful comments. Thanks, Ronald.

      “A lot of electric cars, at least for now, are going to be a second car in a two or more car household.” Yep, and I think this was a key assumption in the study. I’m assuming…

      Not putting yourself in a situation where you have to drive 200 miles a day regularly: yes!! i really don’t understand signing yourself up for that willingly.

    • Offgridman

      “I would suggest moving or changing jobs”
      And for people that live in rural areas due to economic reasons (you can easily do it for half the cost of the city), or safety reasons (who the heck wants to live around all those people and crime), or just because that is where their family or property are.
      It’s really great that you think you can tell people where or how to live, but it just isn’t going to happen, at least we still have that freedom of choice.

      • not a demand, just a suggestion. 😉

        • Offgridman

          Well maybe I took it wrong because of being opposed to the idea of the original article suggesting that everyone can live with short range EV’s. There is an explanation in my own comment below..
          Suggesting that people should move just so they can have a shorter commute seems wrong to me. They live where they want to due to many reasons, and they work where they do due to several others with the primaries being economic and job satisfaction and or ability.
          It just seems wrong to “suggest” people move so that we all match the average number of miles driven and can make do with short range EV’s.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Well, people could use, “Long range cars that can use quick charging and basically have no more range problems than current gasoline cars and cheaper short range town
            cars. And there’s always the option of a hybrid car for those rare people who are constantly on the highway and can’t bear the thought of stopping even for a quick charge.” As I suggested in my comment where I ordered people not to, sorry, suggested people don’t drive a 200 mile commute.

          • eveee

            I can never understand why people want to makeover a technology from something it does well to something it’s not suitable for. That’s expensive. EVs are ideal for city commutes, errands. So why is long range needed? There are plenty of alternatives for that.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Oh, I totally can tell people where and how to live. Watch this. “Hey you! Yeah, you with hair on your head! Sell ice cream! In Azerbaijan! They can’t get enough of it there!” See? It’s easy. People don’t always listen to me though. But that’s okay. That’s where being pals with an Azerbaijanian kidnapping ring pays off.

        • Ronald Brakels

          If anyone’s interested, here’s an article which touches on my ice cream operations in Azerbaijan:

          You’ll be working in the “grey” ice cream sector.

        • Offgridman

          OK just wow, isn’t this forum a place to discuss new energy sources and the ways they can be used. This reply sounds more like the venomous threats encountered on YouTube, or are you just joking?
          In the aspect of a discussion you said that you can ‘suggest’ ‘tell’ people where to live. So in return I suggest tell you that it is wrong to do this. Free speech, don’t you just love it?
          As for long range EV’s having fast charge capabilities, I never said that they shouldn’t, and since the available ones already do, assumed that the long range EV’s that I think are needed will do so also.
          On the continued use of hybrid cars, why? So that we give the fossil fuel companies an excuse to stay in business. If there are long and short range EV’s there will be no need for hybrids, but some people need long range EV’s if we are going to get everyone driving on electricity.
          Now just assuming you were joking here is mine, feel free to call your Azerbaijanian kidnappers, and then the brothers in the Outlaws will come find you. But their solution is rather more permanent as they don’t waste time trying to get a ransom.

          • Ronald Brakels

            That was completely, 100%, a joke. It may not have been a very good joke, but I was being in no way serious. I’m sorry if I alarmed you.

            There may be a cultural difference resulting in misunderstanding here. In Australia we tell each other what to do all the time. We just don’t pay much attention to it.

          • Offgridman

            There was no sense of alarm, with the way the police departments have gone here it is just a good idea to have a private form of protection, and I did list that under the joke part of my reply.
            Could be cultural as I didn’t realize that you were from the the land down under as we call it. We also ‘suggest’ with family or friends what they should do but I guess that it was taken personally because you addressed a whole group or class of people of whom I am a member.
            While I lived in the cities when the company provided housing or made it possible to get it at a big discount for the last ten years that I worked as a private contractor did live far out of town and do the 75-100 mile commute each way. This meant rents were only 20% of finding a similar safe neighborhood and size of home as in the city. With large savings on food, utility, and car insurance costs also it was part of what contributed to my being able to retire at 45 with the extra money that had been saved. And where I am at now a fair number of the neighbors do the 65-75 mile drive to town for good paying jobs and be able to have their families live where it is safe and clean environmentally. And with those decent jobs they are the ones that will be able to afford long range EV’s when they become available at a reasonable price, because the fuel savings will be wanted.
            For some reason my post explaining that at least 20% or more of the US population lives in rural areas and are unlikely to want to move to the cities for various reasons did not show up. While they are not in general the wealthier part of the populace, because of the lower costs they can live comfortably. If we are to get everyone into EV’s and off gas which is the real priority it is going to be just as necessary to make some of the EV fleet long range. In other posts I have explained why in my opinion 200 miles with a majority of that possible at highway speeds no matter what the weather conditions is going to be the turning point for these people, and yes with some sort of fast charge.
            So with this article stressing averages and what is necessary for most trips and concentrating on the needs of the urban population, it just got me aggravated and some of that came out on you. Another problem was saying how easy it is to get a rental or borrow a long range car, maybe for the author in his urban area that is true, but out here the closest rental is 45 miles and not cost effective, train or bus stations 65-75 miles away and parking there very expensive. And the only taxi service a shuttle to the airport at 150$minimum so just used by the wealthy tourists.
            If the US is going to get everyone in EV’s with no hybrids so the CO2 issue is resolved long as well as short range will be necessary at some point. So the sooner those long range are available the sooner the change will happen.

        • eveee

          Do I have enough range to get to Azerbaijan?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Didn’t Dionne Warwick have a big hit with that song?

          • eveee

            No. You must be thinking Dinara Aliyeva. She doesn’t sell ice cream, though. 🙂

          • Ronald Brakels

            Oh it’s easy. Just go to Sarah Palin’s house, you can see Russia from there. Once you’re in Russia take the train across Siberia. It’s electric! Then tell people you want to go to Stalin’s birthplace and ignore any funny looks you might get. Then from Georgia just walk to Azerbaijan. It’s a very scenic hike. Just hurry because the weather’s about to turn.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    I guess that 95 % of population could as well use bicycle or public transportation. . . After all, public transportation + taxi is more convenient and flexible than an EV that has less range than 100 miles.

    • Exactly what I do. Actually, I walk 95% of the time, and take a tram or occasionally taxi the rest of the time. Which is one reason 75 miles of range being too few seems absurd to me. I almost wish I needed to travel more so that it would make sense to buy an EV 😀

  • Richard James Lavering

    I understand the basic concept. I’m not disagreeing that for what the average american uses, 84 miles of range is plenty. But i will say that strapped onto the expensive cost of a vehicle, its maintenance, and the interest it sucks down via the standard american auto loan, is (for me) the *dream* of a vacation to a faraway national forest or (insert your dream here) with a full tank (or full charge) i wouldn’t feel comfortable paying more then 6,000 for it (the limited range vehicle in question).
    In other words – i feel the average car is in fact over priced for its average use, and most of us are OK with that because of the potential to run away from a hurricane, go on a vacation, or leave some place that has a riot – its “future security” , and for this, ill pay the 18-30K for a car. For two days travel guaranteed and nothing else ? that’s a bit steep.

    • I think you just verbalized the rationalization behind that extra, primarily unnecessary range very well. And spelled out like that, I’m sure it’s very convincing. Personally, I’d just be more interested in have an EV for normal use and trading cars with someone or renting for those other trips. But that’s a personal thing, and I’m not sure how much the average person would think of that let alone prefer it.

  • AltairIV

    I think the problem with range anxiety isn’t really about the amount you can drive per se, but what would happen if you exceed that range. The real fear is about what to do when you’re “running on empty” and are still many miles from home. With ICEVs you can simply pop into any of the ubiquitous filling stations and top yourself off, but until charging points are just as common (and quick and easy) anxiety is going to be with us. Even if it is somewhat irrational.

    The second, related worry in that shorter range decreases flexibility. Your EV car may be great for getting you to and from the office, but you can’t just jump into it for a weekend drive to the coast a couple hundred miles away. At the very least you have to plan such trips much more carefully.

    So to my mind, it all comes down to the charging network. When easy access to supply becomes common everywhere, range anxiety will go away.

    * Extra thought for the day: I wonder if range anxiety was a big issue for Model T owners before the network of gas stations became large enough? *

  • Mark Benjamin David

    I see from the comments so far, this falls on deaf ears, Zach. I’m sure most of the people in that study were city dwellers, and, for most city dwellers, <100 miles is plenty. What most people just don't get, because they are too caught up in the way they do things now, and are used to the way we have been doing things for decades (it's how we grew up, it's the way things work), we really have to get people to let go of how we do it now, change our thinking, it's actually better, no more gas station trips! For most people's daily driving, with an electric car YOU JUST PLUG IT IN WHEN YOU GET HOME AND IT'S FULLY CHARGED IN THE MORNING, essentially giving you more range than you currently have, because you don't have to go to the gas station once a week (for most), anymore. It's only for longer trips you need charging stations, and, geez, just take a break after an hour and a half of driving, go to the bathroom, get a bev/snack or meal, 80% charge in half a hour. It's not such a big deal. Plus, there are more charging stations being put up every single day.

    That being said, I do think 200 miles is a more comfortable range. Most people won't drive more than 180 miles (3 hours) without taking a break, you just need to make sure you take it where there's a charging station. But, really, 200 miles is a long way, I just don't see any problem there. If you're going rural, just remember to plug it in when you arrive.

    THERE ARE ELECTRICAL OUTLETS EVERYWHERE PEOPLE! Gawd, if you have to, you can at least plug it in to 120V outlet and get enough to get you to a level 2 or 3 charger. Big whoop. IT'S SO MUCH CHEAPER TO RUN AN ELECTRIC CAR, JUST THINK OF THE FREEDOM! 🙂

    • Thanks a lot for being more direct and writing a better article than me. 😀 Agree 100%. And, yeah, I think a 200-mile EV is a great idea, as do the study authors, but the critical question they asked is what’s a better tradeoff until we get to $100 per kWh. First I think I’ve seen a study on that, and happy it matches my (OUR :D) thoughts.

    • Marion Meads

      I agree with this one fully. The only problem looming over us is when the charging stations and the electric utilities will copy the business model of OPEC on how to gouge maximum profit from people switching from oil to electricity. That is why I like Elon Musk’s vision of building solar panels to supply the charging stations with power and charging there for free. That way, we truly have emission free and very cheap system for transpo. The battery range should be about 200 miles, no more than 300 miles unless the battery can be made very light in the future. I always take a rest after 3-4 hours of continuous driving.

  • Omega Centauri

    The prototype usage that had me balking is the long (or medium) distance move, say from San Francisco to LA. With something like a Leaf you will probably have to hire a vehicle transport outfit for several hundred dollars, whereas with a couple hundred mile range you should be able to find recharge stations and with some patience get the car to the new city under its own power. Now obviously that kind of thing won’t happen too often, but it is a real hastle/expense.

    • eveee

      Have you ever seen one of those Winnebagos towing a vehicle behind it? Maybe you could rent a truck and tow the Leaf.

    • hmm, i’d just make it a slower, “more adventurous” trip and charge along the way.

      • Kyle Field

        Methinks the majority of Americans don’t share your mindset. Oh what a crazed, unsustainable society we have created. That’s what scares me the most about any efforts at sustainability/responsible use of resources/responding to climate change…people just dont care. If it means they have to change in a way that’s slower/more expensive/different (even if better!) they won’t. My personal struggle is with my wife…

        • i really don’t know, but yeah, if that’s the case, it’s a bit of a downer. and i feel you on the wife situation. have the same deal with some related matters. couples never line up 100% on everything, but that doesn’t always make the differences easier :D.

  • Mint

    Consumers are indeed illogical, but there is some sense behind it all.

    The car is the ultimate symbol of personal freedom in our society. It has been for a century, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. People want the ability to go as far as they they want to, and in their own personal space. It doesn’t matter how rarely they go on such long trips. This is why 80-mile pure EVs are unlikely to crack into the mainstream unless fast-chargers become faster and as ubiquitous as gas stations. Tesla’s longer range paired with its Supercharger network almost completely restore that freedom, which is why everyone is so excited for the Model 3.

    But the interesting thing is that this argument flips around as soon as you include a range extender (with a proper gas tank, unlike the BMW i3). Now the PHEV (or EREV, to be specific) has more freedom than the 200-mile pure EV, and should cost less, too. I foresee range extenders being mass produced (if Tata Motors can sell a whole 38-hp car for $2500, then they can put a generator on the motor and sell it for ~$1500).

    There are some advantages to larger batteries. They are unlikely to need replacing for 20 years since you drive more miles per cycle, and they can offer more power to the motor without needing to switch to a more expensive, less dense chemistry, but I think these advantages will go away with battery refinement. There is also something alluring about not needing a drop of gasoline as opposed to needing very little.

    • Thanks for chiming in on the broader point/question. Some good points. However, the argument I’m making is that, for those very infrequent long trips, why not just rent a car or swap with a friend or family member? We also like experience new things, right? There’s an opportunity to do so.

      However, asking whether that point could get through to the majority of people, I’d answer “probably not.”

      • Mint

        I agree on all points. Addressing your other point above about “different classes”, you need to also recognize the new car buying demographic:

        65% of cars are sold to people over 45, and 73% to those with income over $50k. The logical ones among us buy used cars. It takes desire, income, and/or fear of a used car breaking down (not exactly the type to risk running out of charge) to buy new. Just look at depreciation curves: Do most cars really lose 40% of their pure utility in 3 years? Of course not. What it does lose is a huge chunk of desire.

        New car buyers are almost all looking to spoil themselves a bit. You have to address their desires to sell them EVs, not tell them what they need and how to change their lifestyle.

        I’m not saying there’s no market at all for 80-mile EVs. But it’s not going to take them mainstream.

        • Kyle Field

          Considering the recent buy used vs lease article on the leaf and I would say that some situations challenge the typical “smart people buy used” mentality.

        • Interesting stats. I definitely go the route of explaining EVs’ clear benefits, but I think we also need to help people realize that they aren’t going to run out of charge with a non-Tesla EV. Over 100,000 people have realized it and bought Nissan LEAFs, but a ton more haven’t realized it and would be super happy to own a LEAF.

        • Carl Borrowman

          I believe the popularity of the Nissan Leaf has less to do with range and more to do with price and build quality. Let’s face it, the Leaf is basically a budget econobox hatcback with a battery, but priced about two times higher.

          The gas savings argument is a two edged sword. If you don’t drive that much in the first place, an electric car range is fine, but the extra price you pay up front for the EV is going to wipe out any savings you realize with the same driving range (and spending less per month in gas as a result) in a similar build budget gas car. New or used.

          Case in point. I traded in my 10 year old plus Neon-SRT-4 I bought back in 2003 early this year for a 2008 Hyundai Sonata listed around $9500 with 54K mileage. I wound up paying about $6K out of pocket, and spend around 50/mo for gas.

          If instead I bought a used 2011 Leaf for around $12.5K with similar mileage (cheapest I could presently find on AutoTrader), there would still be a $3K difference, which could be made up from gas savings in about 5 years assuming electricity cost nothing or I already had a solar system on my house. Unfortunately, neither of those holds true, and I live in a relatively rural area east of Joshua Tree called Twentynine Palms, and plan on moving shortly to a place about 17 miles out of a town which as far as I know has only one electric charging station.

          By the time the gas savings have paid for the higher price, the Leaf would be 8 years old, and Nissan says the average life expectancy of the battery is 10 yrs, so another $5K to replace the battery, totally wiping out gas savings and yet again making the Leaf more expensive.

          Now, to be fair, there will still be maintenance costs on the Sonata, but it basically boils down to a $25 oil change every six months, or $350 by the time the Leaf needs a new battery (not even taking into consideration what desert temps will do to shorten that battery life).

          I look at EV’s the same way I do solar. First, my consumption isn’t enough to justify the present cost (I pay about $25-$50/mo each on average for car gas and electricity. By the time I make up with savings for what I spent, the EV or system will need to be replaced.

          The good news is I am a firm believer in both EV’s and solar, and I’m fairly sure each will eventually halve in price compared to what we are looking at today by the end of this decade or shortly thereafter, thanks in no small part to both technologies being cost effective for people with higher consumption habits today. I also believe that not only price, but performance will double within the same period, so I’m simply biding my time for better technology in order to not take a loss on it.

          On a side note… I’m also hopeful that clean burning/carbon negative algae fuel can effectively replace fossil fuel within a decade or so, making my Sonata have an even longer life. Either that, or electric conversion kits will also come down in price, making that an alternative option.

          • eveee

            You got it right. It only makes sense where it adds up. Your needs are different. You are well informed enough to tell when it does make sense.

      • Marion Meads

        Asking friends to borrow their car is a hassle, especially when you find yourself in an accident, many parties will be involved and more complicated to handle than the car involved is yours. It could cost friendship if not handled properly, do you want to risk that? And if the car you borrowed broke down, are you paying for its repairs? Hassles in real life that happened to me.

        As to the rental, there is that price gouging algorithm that so happens when you wanted to go on a long distance trip, the rental price is sky high. Plus the hassle of long queues and lucky if you did it online, signing up long forms when you get there, inspecting the car for defects before and after or simply buy their additional insurance…

        • idk, different folks, different strokes. i’ve heard of LEAF owners doing this and i’m sure i’d have curious friends or family members who would enthusiastically do it once in awhile.

          renting: personally, this is what i’ve done for over a decade, so i don’t have an issue with it. and beyond the EV topic, i think it’s nice in that you don’t have to worry about running down your car or having an issue with your car on a long trip, and you can have a bit of fun checking out another model.

          but maybe that’s not the norm…

        • eveee

          You keep ignoring the two car family. There are a lot of them. If one car is used less frequently, it costs a lot of money to keep it insured and drive short distances. Short ICE trips are worse mileage and most maintenance. There an EV makes a lot of sense. IMO, when the range creeps up above 100 miles, this discussion will change. Early EVs are not for everyone. The situation is about to change.

          • Bob_Wallace

            This seems to be very common. Many people look at their own driving habits/needs, find that a <100 mile EV wouldn't work well for them, and generalize to 'everyone'.

            I'd be surprised if more than a very small percentage of multi-car households wouldn't be able to have at least one low range EV in their fleet. About 40% of all households own two cars. About 20% of all households own three or more cars. About 35% of all households own only one car. (2011)


          • Carl Borrowman

            You make an interesting point when it comes to multi-car households, though I think there are more factors involved. For those who didn’t have any plans to replace their old FFV’s with new FFV’s and are considering EV’s from a financial standpoint… another factor is cost of replacing a perfectly good FFV they already own with a new EV for $30,000+… maybe they get $5K-$10K on the trade in, but how long will it take for them to make up the extra $20K they spent on a new EV that they wouldn’t have if they just kept their old vehicle?

            Even with a $150+/mo gas bill on just one FFV, it would take more than ten years in gas savings to pay for the EV, and then you have battery replacement costs at $5K+. That’s not even counting the cost of insurance over time on a new vs. old vehicle.

            Now out of those multi-vehicle homes, is the second FFV a truck or motorcycle? Not many of those around, and the ones there are seem to be fairly expensive.

            Price seems to be the imperative here, and it plays into everything else, including gas range. Maybe most people don’t “need” 100 mile plus gas range, but it is one feature that they already have and may have already utilized and become accustomed to, along with an infrastructure that is well established with the ability to fuel up their vehicle practically wherever they want, whenever they want. In general, I think EV’s aren’t there yet and are still prohibitively expensive for a lot of the population (not all) compared to FFV’s.

            Now, let’s say EV’s do pay for themselves in gas savings over say, 3-6 years for some people, but are still significantly more expensive than their FFV counterparts up front. Would you say the majority of the population are long-term thinkers… that is, they prefer to sacrifice in the short term in order to reap rewards in the long term? I don’t think so, but I would be glad to be proven wrong.

            I think the tipping point for EV’s (at least one’s that are slightly more affordable than a $70K+ Tesla) will be when they come down in retail price to be comparable with FFV’s in the same class ($15K-$30K range classes), or only nominally more expensive. Another few years (perhaps by the end of this decade) and this should happen along with more mileage and reliability.

          • Steve Grinwis

            You’re considering that a battery replacement is going to be required, but we have examples of EV’s with 100k miles on them, with little to no battery degradation. I’d have to find the link, but I think it was a Model S with 1.5% battery degradation after 100k miles. That implies that the battery in that vehicle is going to substantially outlast your typical gasoline engine. And it won’t even require repairs. I don’t know about you, but all of my high mileage vehicles have required at least a little bit of engine work. One needed the EGR cleaned. One needed an O2 sensor, and something else. Not big ticket items, but they add up.

            A battery pack will wear sure, but so will an engine. You can’t run the math on battery pack replacement, and not also run the math on engine repair / replacement. I think you might find that over a couple hundred thousand miles, that they’re closer than you think.

            I really need to write my article on how tough modern EV batteries are. It’s actually pretty astounding. These are not your grandmothers laptop batteries. 😀

          • Carl Borrowman

            I’m talking about a $12k used Nissan Leaf, not a $70k Tesla model S, and I’m going off of what Nissan themselves said about the battery life. Are those examples of 100k EV’s typically driving in 100 to 120 degree weather 3/4 of the year in the desert? And how much did it cost to maintain them to 100k?

            Now, if you wish to talk about examples, there are also examples of gas engines lasting over 300k with just routine maintenance.

            Of course there might be added maintenance costs for a gas vehicle, but I was also very generous by not adding installation and taxes to the battery cost on the EV, and the EV still has added maintenance costs as well.

            You mention a couple hundred thousand miles. That is, going by optimistic expectations here in the desert, about two battery replacements, if I happen to cover that 100k within 20 years. About $10,000. Maybe that’s less than an average, well made, well established 2008-2011 gas vehicle. Maybe it isn’t. I haven’t seen enough data comparisons on this, especially for high temp areas, have you?

            And yes, EV batteries are getting better all the time.
            This is in fact what I’m counting on (as with solar storage and systems), so when I do purchase an EV, I won’t have the same problems early adopters had.

            Now, I must admit I was very surprised when I found that 2011 Leaf on AutoTrader for $12.5K when I posted the other day. It’s an excellent price. Unfortunately, when I was doing research to buy, I was looking at <$10K vehicles. Otherwise I would have been tempted.

            I just got the 08 Sonata tested and it passed with flying colors at 58k, though it did need the windshield washer pump replaced… something I expect EV's still have as well.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Leaf’s don’t deal with heat well. Most other EV’s have water cooled battery packs that deal with the heat much better than Leafs.

            I fully expect my battery to last several hundred thousand miles.

            The Tesla is expensive, but other EV’s have battery packs that are nearly as tough, just not as big.

          • Carl Borrowman

            As far as I know, Leaf is the most inexpensive EV right now… what model EV would you recommend that is in a similar price range and that has an established history of reliability?

          • Steve Grinwis

            Smart Electric Drive, off the top of my head.

            Been out for about the same length of time, but not available in North America until recently.

          • Carl Borrowman

            That would be a great option if I lived on a paved road… unfortunately I’ve got about a mile and a half of somewhat bumpy sand road with some washes where I’m moving to. I did see the moving rep drive up in a gas version and out with a full load of stuff I gave her for her family… where I live now on a soft sand road about a quarter mile from pavement… and was impressed. I’d still be iffy on how it handles where I’m moving to, plus I’m not sure how I’d adjust to that small of a car, about half the size of the one I’m in now. Flash flooding and very high winds are also a factor where I live. Price, at $9K if I could get all the rebates, is definitely nice.

          • Steve Grinwis

            So, that’s the EV I have. I’d wait for the 2015, as it has revised suspension, which would be handy. More spring travel, and slightly higher spring rates.

            Ground clearance is about 5″, fairly typical for eco boxes. It has the traction and stability control system ripped right off a C class Mercedes, so it does pretty well under most conditions.

            As for adapting to the size, I’m 6’2″ and 240 lbs. I fit in it with loads of room to spare. Lots of headroom, and leg room is fine. I’d like it if the seat sat up slightly more, but then, I’m pretty much all leg, so you might not have that issue.

            I’m also from Canada, and I can tell you they handle a harsh winter with aplomb… Hard to get them stuck. Just keep your foot on the gas, and it’ll slowly rock you out of most snowy messes.

            And the price? Hard to beat the price…. 😀

          • Carl Borrowman

            Hate to see what that thing looks like after a front crash.
            Kia Soul EV looks a bit better than the Leaf, though still high priced… I’m guessing by the time I trade in the Sonata I’m going to have a lot more to choose from EV wise, and a lot better specs.

          • Steve Grinwis

            They do a lot better than you’d think. The frame on those things is insanely strong. The roof is rated for something obscene like 10k lbs. There’s a video somewhere of an Excursion sitting on a smart car frame, without issue.

            It’s not as safe as an Impala or an E class or anything, but it’s one of the safest small cars on the road.

            I was rear-ended by a full sized Lexus in a previous smart I owned, at highway speeds. My car had $1000 worth of damage, for a new paint job, and a replaced crumple zone aluminium piece on the back. The Lexus? Complete write off. The tough little smart punched right through the bumper, grill, radiator, and bent the frame on the Lexus.

            Like I said: They do better than you’d think.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I believe you about the rear-end, but I mentioned front crash for a reason… instead of about 6 foot of crumple space in between the steering wheel and whatever is hitting you, it seems there is about half that, perhaps even less. Also, it’s lighter weight seems to make it more susceptible to bounce into an entirely different lane of traffic, making a secondary crash more probable…

            This seems to be fairly illustrative… especially at 00:15, 00:32, 01:03, and 1:20…


            And another good video that mentions the tritium safety cell, which might hold up while the passenger still dies… with meat pudding for legs that is…

          • Steve Grinwis

            Yes. You’ve established that it’s not as safe as a Mercedes C class. I’ve already said that, and that’s already well known.

            What’s more interesting, is, how well does it stack up against other cars in it’s class?

            Turns out? Much better than nearly all of them. It’s gotten better ratings than these cars:

            Ford Fiesta
            Toyota Yaris
            Toyota Prius C
            Kia Rio
            Mazda 2
            Fiat 500
            MItsubishi Mirage
            Hyundai Accent
            Mini Cooper

            The Honda FIt, and Chevy Spark, are the only two cars that beat it out in the minicar / microcar classes.

            Against a big car, the Fit doesn’t do that well, earning a poor rating against a Honda Accord:


            Similarly, the Yaris doesn’t fair so well versus a Camry:


            So, I’ll take my electric Smart, and try not to drive straight into another car at 40 MPH.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I already considered the Mercedes wasn’t in the same class, which is why I added the second video… perhaps you missed it, so here it is again showing a vehicle that is clearly in it’s class, yet the front cabin still doesn’t crunch your legs like the “Smart”:


            Anyway. It seems we got sidetracked from how a Sonata compares to a Smart in front safety comparisons, and my misgivings about the smart because of this. The smart may be better than a Yaris or Fiesta, but that’s not the car I’m driving now, which I’m guessing would fare much better in the same situation. I’m also guessing most people in such accidents are not “trying” to drive straight into another car, but accidents happen.

            So, as I value my legs and life and know accidents happen at much higher speeds than 40MPH, I’ll take my Sonata over that clownbox anyday when it comes to safety.

    • wattleberry

      We don’t often see a reference to the combined effect of short range and scarce, slow recharge facilities and this is exactly the solution to overcome the hurdle to mass acceptance which will eventually prevail. If it remains a problem in the US I can assure everyone that many so-called developed countries still have negligible coverage and there just is no sense of urgency amongst the general public.

  • Bern Sullivan

    Unfortunately, you are falling prey to a common data error graspinig at central tendency [the “average”] without accounting for standard deviation. My usage pattern in fact comes up with average daily use over 7 days of less than 50 miles per day- but two of those days are over 130 miles each, and the other 5 days are all very modest use of 12 miles of so. I live in a dense northeastern state,[Massachusetts] so I can just imagine what usage is like in the more wide open spaces of the west. It is certainly not a sound use of resources [including my limited funds] to keep two vehicles, just so I can use 1 for short hauls and the other for the longer hauls. Since this is my typical weekly usage pattern renting a vehicle is not a sound financial option. So I disagree- limited range vehicles are not a viable option I don’t need the 400 mile range my gasmobile provides, but in contrast to you I don’t feel that Nissan got it right- I think Tesla did. If Tesla’s manages to offer a vehicle for under $40K that is well built and has a range of 175 miles or so, they will ring up enormous sales.

    • AltairIV

      But then again, is your usage pattern the norm, or is one where the driver has a narrower “standard deviation” more common? Sure Tesla is a better fit for you, but it doesn’t mean that Nissan is necessarily wrong. You seem to be falling prey to the common error of thinking that everyone experiences what you experience. 😉

      • Try Finding Me

        incorrect. you are doing exactly what you are accusing the parent of. i would never buy an 80 mile BEV…to limited in range. Get that up over 130, and i would. Note, i am not saying all EV should be 130+. I am saying they need to get the range up.

        The only EV maker who offers a choice of ranges is Tesla. Notice what range they dropped because no one was buying it? So the evidence is, when given a choice, people want longer ranges.

        • Correction: When given a choice, people who can afford a luxury/performance car want longer range. These aren’t average people. Price sensitivity is very different for different classes.

  • LeafDude

    Please remember that Nissan LEAF does not really have an 84 miles of practical range. Brand new LEAF driven on the city streets in the mild (60-70 F) weather may be able to do 84 miles.

    But realistically, 3 year old LEAF with 40,000 miles on it will have a range of about 40-50 freeway miles under a reasonable winter conditions (heater on, 25 F, snow). Considering that no one likes arriving home with a totally empty battery, I would argue that a 10 mile reserve is needed. So LEAF becomes a car with a 30-40 miles of practical, year-around range. Even less when you consider battery degradation after 5 years and 60,000 miles. And by the time you reach 8 years/100,000 you will definitely need a battery re-fresh because the only thing that car will be able to do is a run to the grocery store around the corner.

    I own two LEAFs, 2011 (40k miles) and 2013 (12k miles).

    • Ronald Brakels

      The Nissan Leaf has a performance warranty for its battery. Wouldn’t that prevent a Leaf from dropping to 40-50 miles in three years? Note however, I do not understand the concept of snow, so what would that range be in the summer?

      • Rich

        I don’t believe the warranty comes into play. The warranty only covers excessive degradation.

        Let me say that I’m a huge BEV supporter and dream of the day I can purchase a BEV that can actually handle my commute of 52 miles in cold weather after 4-5 years of use.

        When you start looking at the figures between cold weather impact of 40-50% (outside of warranty parameters) and a 2-4% year over year degradation, the range becomes very limiting. The last I read, the average commute is 32 miles. This is an average, not the normal commute amount. For all those with a 10 mile round trip commute, there are just as many with a 54 mile round trip commute (yes, I understand this isn’t a perfectly accurate statement but roll with it). At 54 miles round trip, the electric cars on the market (excluding Tesla) are not a viable option in winter (under 20 degrees F) unless there is a charger available at work.
        I’ve heard first hand from people using electric heated gloves, wearing multiple layers of clothes, and scraping the inside of the windshield so they don’t have to use the heater which means they wouldn’t have enough range to make it home from work. God Bless them for being innovators and early adopters. They forge the way for 3rd and 4th gen cars that will have enough range for the rest of us.
        IMO, this isn’t an issue with unreasonable mind sets. 150 + mile range is needed (not wanted but needed) by a large portion of the population.
        All of this only takes commuting into account and doesn’t begin to touch on weekend trips and vacations.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Looking around, the worst figure from Nissan I can find is 62 miles in a stop and start traffic jam at minus 9 degrees (16 Fahrenheit). That is for a new battery, but for an original Leaf before they improved the battery pack. I do accept that one needs to be prepared for shorter range when one drives in below freezing temperatures and needs to drive multiples of the average Australian daily driving distance.

          • DRVNMPKW

            Where do you get info from Nissan with that detail.?

            I never saw 62 miles range below freezing let alone 16 F. That must be driving all the way to turtle. I drive conservatively including avoiding going into the red. If driving into the red bars routinely has no impact on longevity then why is it red?

  • Marion Meads

    No it is not! There is always that freedom unlimited by ranges and long weekend trips not needing to buy another car. Range anxiety for me is very real. The statistical average is a misleading number and cannot describe my weekly driving pattern. I need to have a life also and need to go the extra mile at times. I reserve the freedom to change my plans while on the road and don’t want to be in a rigidly planned life around charging times and short mileage trips. I occasionally have to help a friend in need and I cannot say that I don’t have the range to get to you now, wait until I have recharged and you would have died already when I get there.

    • Mark Benjamin David

      if you don’t mind my asking, how many miles is it to your “friend in need”?

      • Marion Meads

        I regularly pick friends and families from the SF airport and I am in Fresno. That would be 175 miles one way. I have friends in LA and Sacramento, that would be about 180-200 miles one way. Friends in SLO, Santa Barbara, Mono Lake. Driving is faster than plane ride from where we are if you tally the pre-departure time check-in and time it takes to renting a car at the destination airport to get to my friend’s place.

  • Uri Naor

    no its not, i take the car only on weekends to family trips, within week i drive in buses. i need an electric car with 200miles or i need to have the ability of modular batteries that i can rent once a week to aument my range

    • I do think that lifestyle is rare, but if it’s your lifestyle, yeah, 100 miles isn’t enough unless you want to have lunches and such near charging stations. 😀

      • Marion Meads

        I don’t think you live in California where you work hard, then have a life and play hard. Many people in the Bay Area often go places on the weekends, to Lake Tahoe for example, especially during the ski season, or go visit North or South, attend long distance concerts in LA. Enjoy wine in Napa, Sonoma, Lodi, the Foothills. Go parasailing, sky jumping,…. adventure. Visit friends and relatives. We bring our kids to Disneyland, Hollywood studio, we go camping in remote places, drive to nearby states, visit museums. We find driving a pleasure to see the beauty of America. We find time to do it. Our kids love it. Cheaper to drive than to fly as we get to enjoy along the way. I don’t think that any of these are rare.

        Check out the number percentage of total car mileage spent on long distance trips, they are 15%-19% even if in terms of number of trips it is small, 0.05% – 0.06%.

        • TravisJSays

          You are right.

          Our minivan has done multiple 1,000+ mile trip vacations, where I was doing 12 hours of driving straight (stops to eat and get gas) to get where we wanted to go. Not frequent, but a few times a year at least, and many 200-300 mile type ‘day trips’ per year.

          Charging stations for that kind of trip would be a joke. EVs for long trips is like buying a VW bug and trying to use it to haul
          lumber from Home Depot. Not the right vehicle for the job!

          The EV can be a commuting car, but you’ll still need another ‘long trip car’ in the household. If you do have that though, the EV range doesnt matter much beyond say 80-100 miles.

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