Moving to electrical cars will only be feasible if they can go the daily distance, and luckily they usually can. A team of researchers looked at people's driving habits in a variety of cities, crunched the numbers and found that nine out of ten driving days could be completely powered by an overnight charge of a currently available electric car.
Nearly 90 per cent of personal vehicle trips on a single day across the United States could be made by a current-generation electric vehicle on a single charge of its battery, according to the research. This was found to be the case across diverse US cities where per capita petrol consumption differs significantly, such as New York and Houston.
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) could help dramatically reduce the 34 per cent of US greenhouse gas emissions generated from the transportation sector. However, concern over the limited number of miles a BEV can travel before recharging, so-called range anxiety, is one of the most significant barriers to large-scale adoption.
Jessika Trancik evaluated the energy requirements of millions of personal vehicle trips across the United States to determine whether existing, relatively inexpensive BEVs are able to meet the demand of US driving habits. Using the 2013 Nissan Leaf as their model vehicle, the findings showed that BEVs can meet the energy requirements of 87 per cent of vehicle-days (typical journeys undertaken within a day).
They also look at the country's 12 most populous metropolitan areas and find that, despite large differences in travel energy consumption, public transit ridership and car dependency, the adoption potential in these cities ranges from 84 per cent to 93 per cent. Replacing traditional vehicles with BEVs for these trips would reduce g-petrol consumption by 60 per cent.
Still, the substantial portion of vehicle-days that involve longer travel distances and higher speeds — common during major holidays — could not be replaced by BEVs, even as batteries improve and charging infrastructure expands.