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U.S. Drivers Ready For Electric Cars, Even If They Don't Know It Yet

 
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2014 Chevrolet Spark EV  -  First Drive, Portland, July 2013

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV - First Drive, Portland, July 2013

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When Chevrolet was engineering the Volt range-extended electric car, it gave the car a battery just big enough for 40-50 miles of electric range.

GM did this because it reasoned that this electric range would be most effective for most drivers--covering the average commute on electricity alone. That two thirds of Volt miles are all-electric proves the concept works.

Now, another survey has emerged confirming that the average electric car really can meet the needs of the average American consumer--they just don't realize it yet.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has found that 42 percent of American households with a vehicle could do their driving using one of the electric cars on sale today.

The UCS figures come from a Venn diagram based on three simple attributes of the average driver and electric car requirements: That of a space to park and plug in, enough seats for passengers, and lack of hauling needs requiring a bigger, beefier vehicle.

56 percent of U.S. households apparently have access to charging. A full 95 percent of U.S. drivers carry fewer than four passengers--a number most electric cars happily carry--and 79 percent of U.S. drivers have no hauling needs, ruling out the need for a big SUV or pickup.

Those numbers lead to the 42 percent figure--households that could be happily served by the average electric car on sale today.

In fact, with 69 percent of U.S. drivers covering fewer than 60 miles per day, most electric cars could easily cope with day's driving. Even the Mitsubishi i-MiEV with its 62-mile range covers that metric, though most would be happier with the 75 miles-and-up offered by cars like the Nissan Leaf or the 82 miles of a Chevy Spark EV.

They'd be saving a fair amount of money too, and reducing CO2 output in the process. UCS suggests the average 2012 compact doing 28.8 mpg would burn through $1,500 in gasoline each year and output 4.7 metric tons of CO2.

In comparison, a plug-in hybrid such as the Ford Fusion Energi may cost $764 to fuel and produce 2.9 tons of CO2.

A pure battery electric vehicle like the Leaf? Just over $400 and only 2.3 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

In the survey, 65 percent of respondents appeared to be positive towards EVs in general, agreeing that they're a necessary pathway for reducing oil use and CO2--and a full 60 percent would consider owning an electric vehicle, if it suited their needs.

As they'll see when reading the results of the survey they responded to--an electric car probably does meet their needs.

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