Ford Plug-In Drivers Do 60% Of Miles On Electricity (Just Like Volt)

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2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Marin County, CA, Nov 2012

2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Marin County, CA, Nov 2012

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Ford plug-in hybrid drivers are really making the most of the electric range of their vehicles--with nearly 60 percent of trips done entirely gas-free.

That's according to Ford itself, using aggregated data from the MyFord Mobile app.

The most interesting thing is that as many Ford plug-in owners are driving gas-free as their Chevy Volt counterparts, despite the shorter electric range.

One year ago, we reported how 63 percent of Volt miles are electric--suggesting drivers really were making the most of their Volts and plugging in wherever they could. At the same time, the remaining 37 percent of trips seemed justification enough that the Volt's drivetrain works, and allows people to drive that little bit further when required.

Ford's Fusion and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids may only have a 21-mile electric range, but that's evidently enough to cover the bulk of their driving despite it being little more than a half of the Volt's 38-mile electric range.

20-50 miles perfect for plug-ins?

It raises an interesting question: Just how many miles does your plug-in need to go in EV mode alone?

The question hinges on just how far the average American commutes, and how frequent their longer journeys are.

Using the Ford's 21 miles as a baseline, you can see why. Just under 60 percent of Ford plug-in miles are all-electric, yet only a few percent more, with almost double the range, are all-electric in the Volt. Ford's own figures show that 84 percent of its drivers' trips are under 20 miles.

Figures for the Prius Plug-In, with its 6 continuous miles or 11 blended electric miles, are hard to come by--but it isn't hard to imagine that a significantly lower proportion of journeys are completed all-electric in that car.

Naturally, if you add enough electric miles to a range-extended or plug-in hybrid car, you'd start to see drivers completing significantly more than 60 percent of their journeys electrically. So think of it as a graph: Low electric percentage below around 15 miles, then a climb and a plateau between 20-50 miles of electric range, evidently enough to cover between a half and two thirds of most drivers' journeys.

Add more miles, and the graph starts climbing again--to the point where a plug-in or full battery electric vehicle with a long enough range can cover 90-plus percent of the average driver's trips.

Confidence builds

There's more to Ford's plug-in results than range, however.

One thing the company is noticed is that as drivers get used to their cars, they push the electric range further. This is something common to all electric vehicles, as drivers gain the confidence to do longer trips on however many electric miles they have.

It's a figure Ford has seen rise as drivers get used to their cars. Initially, Ford plug-in drivers were completing only around 40 percent of their journeys all-electric.

With a plug-in hybrid there's no range anxiety of course, but it seems that Ford plug-in hybrid drivers, like their Volt counterparts, really do want to make the most of their electric range, rather than letting it run into gasoline mode.

How far do you go?

So, all of this in mind, what do you think?

Is the 20-or-so miles of electric range in the Ford Fusion and C-Max Energi a sweet spot for electric range, high enough for most trips and low enough to reduce the need for bigger, more expensive battery packs?

Or could it be as simple as Ford's plug-in drivers simply driving fewer miles--and therefore completing a greater number of those miles with their shorter electric range?

Let us know how you do with your own plug-in hybrids and range-extended cars below.


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Comments (23)
  1. Thanks for reporting on this correctly (IMHO). Too many plug-in hybrid owners are talking about 900 mpgBS rather than talking about percent of miles driven electrically (which is more significant).

    Next up, now about a report comparing the real world mpge of the ford vehicles versus the Volt. Are the vehicles really as efficient as the EPA numbers suggests.

    BTW, "60% of trips" is not equal to "60% of miles".

  2. Definitely true, if a mom drives 2 miles twice a day to take a kid to school/home, drives to work and back at 5 miles, then drives to a second job 50 miles away, we see that 66% of the trips were all electric, using all the charge. However, the last 100 miles on her daily drive puts it at only 17.5% electric miles. Of course, she could have charged somewhere (at work maybe) and bumped it to ~30%, but this shows how mis leading the % of trips is.

  3. By the way, this isn't entirely implausible. I based this mostly after my fathers old commute.

  4. You credited this with being reported correctly, but it regularly incorrectly conflates trips with miles. Volts see 62.4% of all miles (as of the other day) drive on electric. It's obvious far more than 62% of trips... (I'll let you figure out why).

    Ford is citing a trip figure because there is simply no way it's 60% of miles driven on electric.

    So while this is interesting, it's not reported especially correctly.

  5. I have driven my C-Max Energi some 1500 miles. It is hard to separate electric miles from gasoline miles so far, but I estimate that 65% of my miles have been electric. My fuel efficiencies are disappointing compared to Ford's EPA statements. I think I get about 2.85 miles/kWh when running purely on electricity, and about 36 mpg when running purely on gasoline. Both these numbers may be a bit off, but if one is too low, the other must be too high.

  6. I have driven my Prius plug-in for almost 13,000 miles. The car's energy consumption report says I've traveled 21% of the miles on the battery at 3.94 miles/Kwh, and the other ~10,000 miles on gas at 52.8 mpg. This yields an overall figure of 67.6 mpg, ignoring the electricity input, of course.

  7. I have just purchased my 2nd Volt (1st was leased). On the first I drive ~ 29000 miles with 25000 electric (86%). On my new Volt I have driven 1125 miles with 1038 electric(92%). The vast majority of my driving is within the 35-38 mile battery range. I try to charge up whenever & wherever I can.

  8. Im curious, why didn't you choose a BEV, like the Leaf?

  9. I wish comparisons would cease assuming the average driver of one vehicle is the same as the average driver of another.

    Purchasers choose vehicles based on their specific needs, not the needs of the average driver, which means the average driver of one vehicle is not necessarily the average driver of another.

    The effect applies to all cars (e.g. average truck driver is not the average compact car diver) but is amplified in plugins and plugin hybrids because pure electric miles are so much cheaper than gas miles.

    I'd like this article much more if it also cited average miles driven for each vehicle type. My guess is that Volt owners have slightly longer daily commutes and therefore achieve their 60% at a higher rate of total miles.

  10. Many plug-in owners find that staying all-electric is a game that makes the drive more than just a drive. No matter what the electric range is for a given make, owners will try to max out the available EV. Part of the fun of going electric.

  11. But they can "afford" to do so b/c they have a backup plan onboard. With a BEV, it will be harder to do since nobody wants to get to that "turtle mode" without a charging station nearby.

    This is why the BMW i3 with REx has some appeal.

  12. Is that the same "nearly 60 percent of trips" as in "47mpg"?

    I don't think Ford's marketing team has any credibility on that...

  13. How is it "marketing"?

    The data is aggregate and coming from the MyFord mobile app.

    As for the 47mpg ratings, that is due to the standardized EPA testing procedures. Why anyone thinks that the EPA mileage ratings should be the same as actual driving is beyond me. Unless you drive in exactly the same way as the EPA testing procedure, you will not likely get the same mileage. it is meant as a comparative baseline of POTENTIAL. I am sure that anyone who wants to could get 47 mpg out of the Fords. But as they actually have some balls, especially compared to the anemic Prius they usually are compared to, people will very likely drive them more aggressively. Then, they get upset when they discover they got 5-10 mpg less than rated. waaaaah :)

  14. According to the reports of actual owners on, their 2013 Fusion hybrids averaged 41.0 mpg, with a range of 33-53. The 2013 Ford C-max averaged 40.2 mpg, with a range of 29-56. The 2013 Prius hatchback averaged 48.2 mpg with a range of 32-70. I interpret this to mean that the most aggressive drivers get about the same mileage in any of these cars, but the mild drivers can do better in the Prius - and there are probably a higher proportion of these who drive Prii. These reports are from self-selected drivers, and thus not a statistically valid sample, but it may be worth noting that the Prius average mpg figures are a lot closer to the EPA mileage estimates than the mpgs for either Ford.

  15. If you don't think those EPA figures are used as a "marketing" tool to sell Ford hybrids, then you are just naive.

    No, real world figures vary but the fact is that in all testing, CR, GCR and various sites, the Ford's MPG is the farthest from EPA figure.

    Sure, I agree that Ford hybrids are more sporty than Prius, but the fact is that they are NOT easily getting the EPA figure. It doesn't change the fact that they are nice cars, but just don't "imply" that your mileage will be anything close to the EPA figure.

  16. This article was very confusing because it often conflated "miles" with "trips", and so it was hard to make any comparisons or to draw any insights.

  17. I have a Chevy volt and drive 90% on electric. Shopping trips to get me to major retailers are 30-45 miles for me. I'd say 60 miles is the perfect electric range--that would allow me a few miles around home and a quick dash to the mall on electric.

  18. I own a Prius Plugin: 95% of trips

  19. only 60%? that is pretty sad I do 100% of my driving on electricity

    - Tesla Model S Owner

    PS my MPGe is approx 115 with spirited driving not the EPA BS of 89 (i have no clue how hard you would have to beat the car to get 89)

  20. Fifty miles all-electric with a range extender giving 250 more miles would be really good. A 100kWh Tesla Model S with 320-mile EPA range may come out soon using Panasonic's new 4.1A cells. AWD is also coming, which will launch it to 60 mph in less than 3.9 sec. I can't wait for the $40,000 200-mile Gen III! but I have to. Imagine when they upgrade the Gen III with the 4.1A cells. It would be the world's first affordable 300-mile range all-electric car. (with Supercharging and Battery Swapping capability)

  21. I just purchased a C-Max Energi at the beginning of the year, and since I was still on vacation, did mostly freeway travel. Now that I am settled into work mode, my EV percentage jumped to 57% (of 684 miles on the last tank, 394 were "EV"), and I expect it to get better as I adjust my driving habits and shopping habits. Already, I find I make it a point to drive to places with chargers.

    I could be wrong, but I believe Ford's EV "report" on the trip screen actually includes EV miles that are gained in hybrid mode as well as those gained from EV battery mode. If that is how the numbers were generated in this report, I am guessing that real EV battery miles are significantly less on the Ford than on the Volt, even for regular battery users.

  22. I think the number needs to be around 26 miles of electric only mode.

  23. My biggest issue with this report (I know, I'm late to the party) is that Ford counts all the regen miles as electric miles as well. In other words, whenever the engine is off, they count miles as electric, even if that recaptured energy came from gasoline. The Volt doesn't do this, nor does any other vehicle. This is a HUGE bias in their figures and the figures of owners.

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