As of 2013, electric vehicles seem to have finally gotten a small toe-hold in mainstream America. So if you're now considering an EV yourself, one of the main questions you should be asking yourself is how far you have to drive in it.
Conventional wisdom is that Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, so a car that has a range of 75 miles is a good target for manufacturers. But that's an average, and you have to determine whether or not that works for you.
Here are the "gotcha's" that need to be considered:
- The range you need is your normal commute plus consideration for unusual situations:
- Errands to run on the way home
- Forgot something at home
- The advertised range is an optimistic number for a new EV.
- Very hot or cold weather may affect your batteries in addition to cause you to use A/C or heating.
- Driving at or above freeway speeds decreases range.
- Hilly terrain will decrease range.
- The battery capacity (your range) will decrease over time. A manufacturer may only guarantee something like 70% capacity after 5 years or 50,000 miles.
- The less of the battery capacity you use per day, the longer your batteries will probably survive. In other words, a commute using typically less than half of your battery capacity will probably slow down the inevitable decline in range compared to draining the batteries every day.
- On the other hand, letting your car sit unused and/or uncharged for long periods will negatively affect the batteries.
The bottom line is that an EV is best used as a regular commuting vehicle, and you need to factor many more things into selecting an EV than simply knowing the distance from your house to your work. If you have an option for more battery capacity, it may be worthwhile to pay for extra range.