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USA: Electric cars now primary vehicles

The majority of plug-in electrical vehicles in California are identified as a primary car by their owners, according to a statewide survey by the California Center for Sustainable Energy.

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Download: Owner Survey: Plug-in Cars
Nine out of 10 owners said plug-in vehicles represent their primary ride — though almost all had a second, conventional car, according to a survey with more than 1,400 respondents released this month. The study was conducted by the California Center for Sustainable Energy in coordination with the state Air Resources Board.

Monthly mileage averaged about 800 — the equivalent of almost 10,000 miles a year.

“These aren’t hobby cars, these aren’t weekend cars,” said Mike Ferry, transportation programs manager for the energy center. “They are everyday use cars.”

The questionnaires were sent out earlier this year to people who have owned their plug-in vehicles for six months or more, allowing enough time for the drivers to settle into commuting and battery charging routines.

Results highlighted new strides toward greater adoption of zero-emission personal transportation — along with some enduring barriers.

About two-thirds of plug-in vehicle charging took place during over-night hours, placing minimal stress on the power grid, according to the survey. That bodes well for expanding electric vehicle ownership without major infrastructure upgrades, Ferry said.

Plug-in vehicles are a key component of the state’s goals for greening its car fleet. Gov. Jerry Brown recently set a goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (electric and hydrogen-powered) by 2025.

But hurdles still stand in the way.

Of plug-in owners surveyed, 97 percent live in a single-family homes that easily accommodate car charging equipment. That leaves 3 percent of owners living in a multi-dwelling units or other housing situations.

“To make it practical to own a plug-in car, you have to have some place where you can park it overnight and plug it in,” Ferry said. “If we want to expand this market, we need to make it available to people in all kinds of settings.”

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