Published on June 13th, 2017 | by Zachary Shahan


What’s The Effect of Driving Electric on Broader Energy Conservation? (CleanTechnica #EV Report)

June 13th, 2017 by  

One of the benefits of driving electric is that electric motors and drivetrains are inherently much more efficient than gasoline- or diesel-powered engines/drivetrains. Aside from that inherent energy conservation, though, how much do electric car drivers strove to conserve energy? And how much does driving electric encourage them to conserve energy? These are matters we dug into a little bit in our latest electric car driver report.

If you’ve read the report intro in one of our previous articles about the new report, just jump down below the line to get into the article itself. In case you missed previous intros, though, here’s a short summary of the report:

We surveyed over 2,000 electric car drivers living in 28 countries (49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces). We wanted to find out what early electric car adopters require and desire from their next electric cars and from EV charging networks, as well as what EV life is like so far for them.

This report segments responses by three distinct electric vehicle groups (Tesla drivers, pure-electric but non-Tesla drivers, and drivers of plug-in hybrids) as well as by continent (North America versus Europe). This segmentation unveils clear differences on many topics — which is sensible given the vast variation in user experience for each type of EV and for the two regions, but which we’ve never seen uncovered before.

You can get the full 93-page report — Electric Car Drivers: Desires, Demands, & Who They Are — for $500, or you can check out the first 30 pages for free. (If you contributed to the report/surveys and want a free copy, drop us a note and we’ll send the entire report your way.)

Our core partners for this year’s report included EV-BoxTesla Shuttle, and Important Media. Other report partners included The Beam, EV Obsession, and the Low Voltage Vehicle Electrification summit.

Effect of Driving Electric on Broader Energy Conservation

One interesting thought that we wanted to explore was whether driving an electric car had follow-on effects in people’s lives that led them to conserve energy elsewhere. As it turns out, yes, it seems that it does.

Depending on the group, 28–43% of respondents said driving electric led them to conserve energy in their home more that before. 12–19% weren’t sure.

When you consider the implications, that means that electric cars don’t just cut emissions in transport — they also cut emissions from electricity generation, heating, and cooling.

Looking at a more direct relationship, we also asked whether having an electric car led them to drive more efficiently. The large majority said that it did.

And this might be precisely why many respondents were led to conserve energy more at home — they began thinking about their energy use and how to conserve it. Doing so while driving in order to maximize their range very naturally makes them think about doing so in other areas of their lives.

I’m curious to see how this matter changes as electric cars get more electric driving range and people are thus less inclined to think about conserving energy while driving.

In that regard, it’s interesting that the Tesla drivers — the drivers with the most electric range — were least likely to say that driving an EV led them to drive more efficiently.

However, that could also be related to them wanting to enjoy the insane performance of their Tesla vehicles, or it could be related to the greater wealth of those drivers and their lack of concern for saving money/resources.

Though, again, the plug-in hybrid drivers — who have the lowest electric range but also don’t have to be concerned about running out of electricity (due to their gas backup) — were the ones most likely to say that driving electric made them drive more efficiently. It seems that, the smaller the battery size, the more a driver tries to squeeze as much juice out of it as possible — whether they have a backup option (gas) or not.

We will explore this matter further in future years in order to tease out more of the behavioral implications of a switch to electric cars. Will these responses be consistent as electric cars enter the mainstream market? Will drivers pay less attention to efficiency and energy conservation as they gain more electric driving range? What specific energy conservation efforts are EV drivers making as a result of driving electric?

Get the full 93-page report — Electric Car Drivers: Desires, Demands, & Who They Are.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed 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, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. 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.

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