Do you really need a long range EV?

On average Americans drive 30 to 40 miles a day. The average mileage on a car in a year is about 12,000 to 15,000 miles.


The data

According to the US DOT Federal Highway Administration, the average annual miles per vehicle, per year, is 12,334. This is based on total annual miles traveled by all cars in the US, that is 3.5 billion cars (highway trucks and commercial vehicles are not included) This number is divided by the total number of vehicle registrations 247 million. The data comes from the 2017 annual DOT report.

Compared to the peak in 2001, the typical American in 2017 was less likely to travel, as measured by the number of daily miles or daily trips taken.

Wait... Americans are driving less?


In the nuclear 1950's, American families were being sold on the dream of the long distance travel lifestyle. The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, aka The Interstate Highway System was under rapid construction and the road ahead seemed wide open and promising. As a result the average American household were buying more cars. Lots more cars! From 1945 to 1955 they bought 71% more cars. Car ownership didn't see that kind of increase until it hit it's peak in 1988, when the average was 2.16 cars per household, a 72% increase over 1955. In 1955, the average retail price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $0.29. This is equivalent to $2.73 in 2019 dollars, (as of this writing the average cost is $3.06 / gallon) Compare this to the US average of .13¢ / kWh. Where it would cost $2.21 to charge an EV overnight for 60 miles of travel the following day.

Range vs Cost

It's easy to imagine that at this point, everybody has heard or seen an advertisement for an EV (electric vehicle). One of the major points automakers are focusing on when advertising is the EV's Range. The cost of an EV from OEM auto manufacturers is directly correlative to the size of the battery. The vehicles range correlates to the battery size too, and the battery is the most expensive single part in the car. But if Americans drive on average only 35 miles per day, why are they being marketed 300 mile/ 480 km long range electric vehicles, with huge costly batteries? Why are we holding out on Range before adopting EV's as an acceptable and appropriate form of daily transport for us and our families? A hypothetical argument might be "But what about our summer cross country vacation? We need a long range vehicle" An answer to this might be, rent a vehicle for your trip. You might even rent a long range EV like a Tesla model X to make the trip. But over the river and through the woods on your way to Grandmothers house, you might want to check ahead to make sure you won't get stranded without a place to recharge! The bottom line is, most cases where you need a vehicle are for short trips under 100 miles. Most trips are much less, 10-30 miles. So don't believe the hype! The proof is in the data. Electric vehicles are perfectly acceptable forms of transportation, without the huge batteries and long ranges.



60 miles @ 3.5 miles per kWh or 285Wh per mile

last updated Wednesday, June 19th 2019