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Published on August 9th, 2015 | by Tina Casey


10,000 EV Drivers Can’t Be Wrong… But They Can Be Different (CleanTechnica Exclusive Interview)

August 9th, 2015 by  

The Ford Motor Company has just come out with a new survey of electric vehicle drivers and the big number has been rippling through the Intertubes: more than 90% of EV drivers love their EVs and will stick with electric for their next car. That certainly vindicates the EV driving experience in general, but there are some intriguing details behind that number, mainly having to do with the difference between different types of EVs.

For that story, we turn to Stephanie Janczak, Manager of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Technology at Ford, who graciously spent some time on the phone with CleanTechnica to dig into the details of the new survey.

Ford EV driver survey electric vehicles

EV Drivers By The Numbers

The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of just how and why people are integrating electric vehicles into their lives.

Ford commissioned the EV custom survey firm PlugInsights for the survey, so let’s take a quick look at that company first.

PlugInsights draws from a panel of EV drivers primarily located in the US, and samples are weighted according to the latest available monthly sales figures. As the maker of the charging station app PlugShare, the company has a keen interest in helping auto manufacturers grow the EV marketplace:

PlugInsights’ mission is to amplify the voice of the driver to automakers, utilities, regulators, charging networks, financial analysts, and the rest of the plug-in car industry. We want the insights we uncover to light the road ahead for those who are creating tomorrow’s electric vehicles and services.

We’re guessing that Ford culled some particularly useful marketing information from the new survey that it’s not going to share with the competition, so not with us either. However, the numbers released publicly look great for the overall EV market. The breakdown is that 92% of battery electric vehicle (BEV) owners and 94% of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owners plan to buy another EV in the future.

More Good Numbers For EV Drivers

Janczak broke those numbers down for us a little more. Among the 92% of BEV drivers who said they would buy another EV, the primary choice was another BEV. The driving experience (“instant power,” as Janczak expresses it) was cited along with an appreciation of clean technology.

While BEV owners tended to say they would stay with full battery technology for a future EV purchase, PHEV owners were more inclined to switch to BEV for their next electric car.


Since many households have more than one car, the survey also delved into second-car ownership. The survey found that, among EV owners, the second car ownership rate topped 90%, and the second car tended to be a gasmobile.

Second-car owners said they tended to use the gasmobile for longer trips, which, according to Janczek, suggests that improvements in battery range will prompt EV owners to replace their second car with an EV, too.

The survey supported that view, and in addition it showed that the tendency for PHEV owners to switch to BEV holds true when it comes to the second car. Among the PHEV owners who also own a gasmobile, 73% said that, when it comes to replacing their gasmobile, they were pretty much split on either a PHEV or a BEV.

EVs & Solar Energy

The real question is why BEV owners are not interested in switching down to PHEV, while PHEV owners tend to switch up to BEV. Janczek spotted a few clues in the survey.

The survey showed that BEV drivers tend to be more aware of, and concerned about, global warming issues, and have chosen electric as part of their lifestyle decision-making. PHEV drivers, in contrast, are attracted primarily by the potential for saving money.

We’re thinking that the group of PHEV drivers who plan on switching to BEV includes a fair number who are attracted by an even greater money-saving potential, as well as some who are developing a keener awareness of the environmental impacts of their personal mobility choices. Of course, with “instant power” as a top attraction PHEV drivers have tasted, they may simply want to drive on electricity more.

According to Janczak, Ford is particularly interested in the relationship between solar ownership and EV ownership as a lifestyle choice, and the survey validates the company’s solar-based lifestyle initiatives.

When asked about their use of solar energy, 83% of EV drivers said they had solar panels at home already or would consider installing them in order to get a true zero-emission driving experience.

Solar adoption at home is important because, as long as fossil fuel power plants continue to supply electricity to the grid, grid-connected EV drivers will be at least partly fossil-powered.

As that 83% figure shows, there is considerable overlap between EV ownership and solar acceptance, which Janczak attributes to an awareness of global warming issues. That supports the idea that EV ownership is part of a “complete lifestyle” focused on reducing emissions.

Janczak also notes that, as far as the chicken-and-egg sequence goes, adopting solar at home doesn’t necessarily come before the purchase of an EV, but the two are related.

You’re Going To See More Connectivity

All in all, the EV driver survey validated the idea that future vehicle ownership will be part of a more holistic, connected, electric-based mobile lifestyle powered by renewable energy.

On the consumer end, Ford has already begun to integrate solar into its MyEnergi package, while integrating vehicle ownership, ride sharing, and mass transit through a suite of connectivity-based initiatives.

Ford has also been highlighting wind and solar-enabled EV charging at selected dealerships, and it has been ramping up its corporate sustainability measures with more solar among many other initiatives, including the introduction of biodegradable car parts.

Though the EV driver survey yielded no real surprises in terms of raw numbers, Janczak said that the passion expressed by EV owners in the survey is another factor supporting the trend toward a more sustainable model for personal mobility.

Image via The Ford Motor Company.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Rob Kay

    Most of my driving is very local. However, I just completed a 1600 mile trip around the UK in my Leaf , so to me, it isnt range, it is getting a better network of reliable rapid chargers that is the key breakthrough for full acceptance.

    • Bob_Wallace

      1600 miles? How many laps did you do?

      • Rob Kay


  • Otis11

    If Ford (or any car company for that matter) is reading this – EV Pickup (with range extender).

    Ideally a Ranger or Tacoma size with 20+ miles per charge, 3,500 lbs towing. If it’s reasonably priced, I’ll be first in line to sign up. (Reasonably priced accepts a ~10-15% premium over comparable model)

    • Calamity_Jean

      “If it’s reasonably priced, I’ll be first in line to sign up. “

      And I’ll be close behind you.

    • Question about that coming in next EV survey. Can’t wait to see the results!

    • Unfortunately, though, the results from the first survey (789 responses atm) is just 3.77% of respondents. 😛

  • BigWu

    I’ve often wondered what the BEV+solar PV stats were. Anecdotally, from brief chats with other Tesla drivers at Superchargers on the East Coast, I knew it must be quite high indeed. I’m disapointed, however, that the survey conflated intent to install PV with already installed PV (the 83% cited).

    Regarding second cars, I had assumed at purchase time that our family would use the gasmobile for long roadtrips. The reality has been precisely the opposite. From Miami to Boston, all our roadrips have been in the Tesla. It’s so very quiet, the kids fall asleep in minutes. The energy is free (sunk cost), and the luggage stoage space with two trunks is spectacular. Our second car will certainly be replaced with either a BEV or PHEV when the time comes (likely a city runabout BEV, an eMINI if they ever produce one).

    As for “waiting” to charge up on road trips, that hasn’t been our experience at all. After three hours in the car, a quick bite to eat and toilette breaks nearly always cosume the 20-30 minute charge times.

    • Kraylin

      I am not surprised that you would choose your Tesla over almost any other car, what an amazing car the Model S is, sadly it is out of reach for most and many of the more affordable electrics have nowhere near the same range. Will the 20 minutes to charge be an issue once more people need it at those rest stops? Picture the size of those parking lots… 100’s of cars. Will we one day have the infrastructure to charge 100’s of cars at a time in these locations?

      • nakedChimp

        as time goes on, battery capacity in the cars will go higher, thus the need to recharge on longer road trips will become smaller..

      • Calamity_Jean

        I suspect Tesla would install another charger if they frequently hear from Tesla owners that the owners had to wait for the charger because someone else was using it.

        • Exactly. And, atm, they have a new Supercharger going up approx every week. The buildout is not slopping.

      • BigWu

        Two points:

        When Tesla began selling the S, there was only a single 4-bay charging station between Washington and New York City (in Newark, DE). Now there are five stations with a total of 26 bays (6.5x more) on this 226 mile stretch. I have traveled this route frequently since the beginning and can report that I’ve never had to wait for a bay and that there are usually more than half the bays available at any given time. Tesla has done an outstanding job adding stations ahead of sales.

        Secondly, the existing Superchargers can dish out more power than the current battery chemistry can ingest, particularly in the latter half of the charge cycle. Charge times will fall as batteries improve, increasing the number of cars that can be serviced per bay.

      • Rick Thurman

        Think of stores, restaurants where you stop for at least 20 minutes: even non-drive thru stops on the highway can run 20 minutes; and in-city, any grocery or bix-box discount store (Walmart, Target, in US) can run 20 minutes. If a city’s EV new-car sales hit a certain percent of total new-car sales, that could be a cue to start incrementally installing chargers into the parking lot. Charging while shopping or eating will probably kill off most of the need for dedicated charging spaces. Could even be given a promotional angle: “So many kWH’s off with every $$ purchase!” Stores may even like the idea of shoppers hanging out a few extra minutes to complete the charge, since that could encourage a few extra items to be purchased… “since we’re here already”….

        • Bob_Wallace

          I can see the appearance of “charging malls”. A group of stores and restaurants that share a parking lot where most, eventually all, of the parking spaces are wired for EVs.

          Just set the rate high enough to cover the cost of hardware and electricity. Then discount it by the value of customer acquisition. I’d bet it would be a lot cheaper than advertising.

    • Kraylin

      I agree I would be more interested in knowing what % of electric vehicle owners in this Survey already have solar installed at home at the time of the survey.

      • dogphlap dogphlap

        Me too. I go further and say of those without Solar PV panels all those who could would certainly be considering installing them. The fiqure of interest is how many who have an EV have Solar PV also.

        • Posted above: FYI, we just ran an EV owner/lessee survey (789 responses) and the result we have for people who have solar is 39%. That matches precisely what a California EV survey came up with a couple years ago.

          • Kraylin

            Thank you! No rush, completely curious inquiry. How’s that survey coming? Are you still compiling stats or writing an article already?

          • Still letting stats trickle in. Preparing a second one for non-owners/lessees. Planning to write up a big report from these, but will also write a number of articles at some point (hopefully not too long from now) and some of the key findings.

      • FYI, we just ran an EV owner/lessee survey (789 responses) and the result we have for people who have solar is 39%. That matches precisely what a California EV survey came up with a couple years ago.

    • FYI, we just ran an EV owner/lessee survey (789 responses) and the result we have for people who have solar is 39%. That matches precisely what a California EV survey came up with a couple years ago.

      Btw, if you haven’t completed the survey, it’s still live: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9W9G9JW

  • Great information. With the telematics and smart phone feature, we don’t need computers on poles, membership cards and fees with the “popular” charging points! 90 % of charging happens at home, the work helps extend the range. Public charging isn’t crucial!

    • Mike Dill

      I remember from somewhere that about 90% of all driving is within 30 miles of home, and something like 80% is within 10 miles. As a second car, this makes sense. A gasmobile is still required currently for longer trips, unless you can afford a Tesla.
      About twice a year I drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, along with a few other trips. I end up with about 2000 miles of long distance a year, which is just enough for me to keep my gasmobile as a second car for a few more years.

      • PHEVs work fine too (though, you may be including them as gasmobiles).

      • James

        Or in the case of my household our EV makes a great primary car and we have a second car for long trips.

      • Epicurus

        For someone like you who doesn’t have a second car, the smart thing to do might be to rent a car for the occasional long trip. Or get a Volt.

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