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Charging Behavior Impacts on Electric VMT: Who is Not Plugging in?

UCD-ITS-RP-14-14

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Suggested Citation:
Tal, Gil, Michael A. Nicholas, Jamie Davies, Justin Woodjack (2014) Charging Behavior Impacts on Electric VMT: Who is Not Plugging in?. Transportation Research Record 2454, 53 - 60

The growing plug-in electric vehicle (PEVs) market features new models of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) with varying battery sizes and electric driving range. How are these different models being used in the real world? A common assumption in PEV impact analysis is that PEV owners will maximize their vehicle utility by appropriately sizing their battery to their driving needs and by charging their vehicles as much as possible to recover the cost of the vehicle purchase. Based on these assumptions we expect a high correlation between PHEV owners usage of the vehicle and the number of plug-in events, and we expect drivers of PHEVs with small battery to plug in more than owners of vehicles with a larger battery and similar driving patterns. This paper examines the assumptions presented using a survey of more than 3,500 PEV owners conducted in California from May and June 2013. The online survey includes extensive data on driving and charging behavior using web-map questions and includes owners of all PEV models in the market including more than 600 Volts and 800 Plug-in Priuses. The results show that small battery PHEV electric vehicle miles traveled (eVMT) are lower than larger range PHEV or BEVs not only because of the battery size but also as a result of the public charging availability and charging behavior. Higher electric range PHEV and BEV drivers charge more often and report more charging opportunities in the same areas that smaller battery PHEVs could not find chargers.
Available online at: DOI: 10.3141/2454-07