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California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Owner Survey Results

California Center for Sustainable Energy completes EV Survey
The California Center for Sustainable Energy surveyed more than 2,500 electric vehicle (EV) owners to provide the state with its most comprehensive data compiled to date regarding the usage of EVs in California. Of the 2,526 vehicle owners selected for the survey, 1,419 vehicle owners chose to respond, which demonstrates the willingness of the EV community to contribute to the knowledge base to improve the usage and perception of the electric car as a true alternative to a gasoline or other conventionally fuelled vehicle. Over a third of all plug-in vehicles in the United States are owned by Californians (12,000+), with roughly 1,000 more being added each month within the state, including plug-in hybrids.

Here are some quick highlights before we take a closer look at the results:

89% of owners use their plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) as their primary vehicle, even though 95% also own a conventional fuel vehicle
Owners average 800 miles per month in their PEV
39% of PEV owners also have a home solar energy system with 17% more considering installing one within the next year
91% have installed a residential Level 2 charging station
83% of respondents were either Dissatisfied or Extremely dissatisfied with the current public charging infrastructure in California
Roughly two-thirds of PEV charging takes place during off-peak hours
Vehicle Charging
One major claim against EV adoption is the strain that it would put on a heavily burdened electric grid system. As can be seen in the above summary, the majority of EV owners are already charging during off-peak hours. One must keep in mind though that 39 percent of all PEV owners in California also own a solar energy system. Based on survey responses, these are the EV owners more likely to charge during on-peak hours, so they are not putting any additional strain on the grid as they are producing their own power.

Let’s step back from the survey for a moment and speculate about EV owners in other states. Even if the majority do not choose to install a solar energy system, the likelihood is that these owners will use the charge timer in the car or in their charging station to charge during non-peak hours. Of the five major electric utility providers in California, all of them offer time of use (TOU) rates, which offer lower rates for off-peak and super-off-peak than on-peak usage. We expect this rate structure to be embraced in other regions of the country also. Based on survey respondents, the availability of TOU rates impacted charging behavior to charge during reduced cost off-peak or super-off-peak rate periods. We suspect that the same would be true in any area of the country. We have written about this before, but now we have this study to point to as a reference.

Other points worth noting
96% of survey respondents are Nissan LEAF owners
71% of primary PEV drivers are male
The vast majority use their PEV for commuting, personal errands, and shopping
Most rely on their conventional fuel vehicle for business and vacation travel
96% own their own home
66% drive 30 miles per day or less
94% drive 45 miles per day or less
87% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, with 52% having a post-graduate degree
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