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Californians Actually Use Their Electric Cars, Survey Shows

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A new survey performed by the California Center for Sustainable Energy shows that EVs or plug-in hybrids are used in 90 percent of the cases as the car of choice.

The Californians interviewed said that they drive around 10,000 miles a year in everyday usage conditions. “These aren’t hobby cars, these aren’t weekend cars,” said Mike Ferry, transportation programs manager at CCSE. “They are everyday use cars.”

One other piece of information obtained from the poll is that the users charge their plug-ins overnight, so the impact on the grid of the approximately 12,000 electric vehicles has so far been minimal.

One issue would be that current owners of electric/plug-in hybrids have to own a place to charge the vehicle, meaning that they have to live in a single-family home. The mass adoption of an electric car is thus dependent on the diversification of charging methods – “If we want to expand this market, we need to make it available to people in all kinds of settings,” in Ferry’s words.

However, more than half of the respondents received government subsidies for the purchase of a high-voltage charging station (which translates into shorter charging times). 71 percent of them said that they didn’t have any problems finding public charging stations.

Smartphone apps like Volt Stats also help electric car drivers with their energy economy. The software shows them real-time statistics of the energy consumption and optimum ways to improve the battery life.

Although sales of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt look disappointing, they take up 0.9 percent of the total pie (read: new car sales) in California, which looks promising to me, in just over a year of Leaf’s existence on the market.

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