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Chevy Volt Owners Drive More Electric Miles Than Nissan Leaf Drivers: Why?

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2013 Chevrolet Volt  -  Driven, December 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

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Is it a case of picking the right electric car for the right job? Or could a lack of "range anxiety" really lead drivers to cover more miles?

It's a kind of chicken-or-egg question, but it came to mind when our author Matthew Klippenstein sent us some data.

Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

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On average, owners of the Nissan Leaf battery-electric car cover 629 miles a month, while those who drive the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car go 60 percent further, logging 1,012 miles.

Of those Volt miles, 75 percent are in electric mode using a battery charged from the grid, not the gasoline range extender.

(That's higher than the 63 percent of Volt miles covered on grid energy that was reported more than a year ago.)

So even though the Volt's electric range is rated at 38 miles, while that of the Leaf is 76 miles, Volt owners drive more electric miles a year.

The data comes from the EV Project Vehicle Summary Report (April-June 2013) issued by the U.S. Department of Energy.

We think there may be a few potential explanations.

One could be that the vehicles aren't evenly distributed. Are Leafs perhaps used in more coastal and urban areas, whereas Volts are spread more widely through dispersed exurbia?

2013 Chevrolet Volt, Catskill Mountains, Oct 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt, Catskill Mountains, Oct 2012

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Another might be that owners are self-selecting: Those with longer daily travels avoided the Leaf, whereas those with shorter and more predictable commutes went for the less expensive all-electric alternative.

Or perhaps Volt owners are more accustomed to 120-Volt recharging, and hence more likely to recharge optimistically for shorter periods of time.

About half of Chevrolet Volt drivers don't have a home 240-Volt Level 2 charging station, but a majority of Leaf owners do.

We'd love to see more data to support or disprove these assertions.

And we'd enjoy hearing from Volt and Leaf drivers--in fact, anyone who drives any plug-in electric vehicle--on their own motivations and experiences.

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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