85 percent Of California EV Owners Use It As Their Primary Car

The more than 12,000 plug-in electric vehicles in California provide both consumer and environmental benefits, according to a new study by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE).

The study shows owners drive their cars an average of 26 miles per day and charge their vehicles primarily at night.

This is the type of data valuable to the auto industry, utilities and officials in further developing the market and infrastructure for electric vehicles.

The center surveyed more than 1,400 plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners in coordination with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) early this year. Owners supplied information on vehicle usage, charging behavior and access to charging infrastructure. The CCSE conducted the survey in support of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Not surprisingly, considering its presence in the market, 96 percent of survey respondents owned a Nissan Leaf.

California is the nation’s largest PEV market with roughly 35 percent of the U.S. total, and sales add about 1,000 additional cars in the state each month. Although the study did not directly calculate greenhouse gas emissions, PEVs produce considerably fewer emissions because California produces the bulk of its electricity with efficient and low-carbon natural gas. California PEV owners also have a high adoption rate of solar power, with 39 percent of respondents currently owning solar and 31 percent considering solar installations within a year.

Some of the highlights from the survey are:

• 85% of owners use their PEV as their primary car, driving an average of 802 electric-powered miles per month.

• In San Diego, favorable utility rates result in some PEV owners paying equivalent to $0.90 to $1.90 per gallon of gasoline to power their electric vehicles.

• Because California does not use oil to generate electricity, the current electric vehicles in the state save approximately 350,000 gallons of petroleum every month, decreasing imports and reducing the overall demand for oil.

• Roughly two-thirds of vehicle charging takes place in off-peak hours (between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.).

• 39% of the state’s PEV owners have also invested in home solar energy systems, helping to power their vehicles with renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

• In addition to charging at home, 71% of PEV owners report having access to either public or workplace charging or both.

CCSE also has prepared in-depth analyses based on survey results that address three specific topics: residential charging and the use of lower cost “time-of-use” electricity rates, the link between PEV ownership and residential solar, and vehicle owner access and willingness to pay for public vehicle charging.

CCSE and ARB, in partnership with other key stakeholders, plan to conduct additional surveys in support of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The project provides rebates for the purchase or lease of electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles, ranging from $900 to $2,500. The ARB funds the project, and CCSE administers it throughout the state.

The full report and more info can be accessed here.


  • ACAgal

    It is so much easier (and cheaper) to just plug in the EV than to go to the gas station in this summer’s heat. Ours is a PHEV, but we haven’t needed gas for it, yet. It is our “GoTo” car. We just take the second car out monthly to churn gas and blow out the system. It will be used if we have to haul a really heavy load (building materials, mulch,etc – about twice a year).

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    Not surprised since it cost less to operate at per mile baiss…