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Many Americans are just a plug away from owning an electric car

Most can live with available range, study shows

When it comes to electric cars, most people are worried about their limited range and potential repair costs. Instead, they should be concerned about where to plug the cars in. That’s the conclusion of a new study by Consumers Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists, which surveyed 914 adults who own cars in a nationally representative telephone sample.

Of those drivers, 42 percent fit within all the parameters necessary to use a plug-in hybrid vehicle for their transportation needs with few, if any, changes in behavior. Among that group, 60 percent met the criteria to make a pure battery-electric car practical for them.

Typical daily drive

We asked drivers how far they drive in a typical day; how much that amount varies, how often they travel more than 60 miles on a weekend or vacation trip; how many passengers they typically need to carry; and whether they need towing or hauling capacity. We also asked what type of house they live in (single family, duplex, condo, apartment, etc.); where they park (off-street, in a garage, on-street, etc.); and whether they have access to any type of electrical outlet either at home or at work, or both.

We found that even though most drivers don’t need to travel farther than a pure electric car can go on a charge, many can’t take full advantage of a plug-in hybrid car (which uses a gas engine as a backup generator once the charge runs out) because they have no place to routinely plug it in.
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