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Hybrid owners more range-anxious than EV drivers

Drivers opting for plug-in hybrid cars or ‘range-extended’ models are recharging their cars more frequently than drivers of fully electric cars as they try appear to be maximising their cheaper, electric range, new data suggests.

According to new information released from charging station firm ECOtality, owners of Chevrolet Volt cars in the US, which run on petrol and electricity, recharge their cars more frequently than owners of Nissan LEAF cars, even though the Nissan car is completely dependent on electricity and the Volt is not-suggesting that this first group of driver is more anxious about running out of electric-only range.

A Nissan LEAF owner uses an ECOtality charging station

The difference is in the all-electric driving ranges of the cars, with the LEAF capable of around 100 miles per charge and the Volt just 40 miles. While the Volt has its back-up gas engine generator to boost the car’s overall range to over 350 miles, it seems that their drivers are developing something called ‘gas-anxiety’- that is a fear of using the more expensive gasoline fuel rather than the energy stored in the car’s battery pack.

According to the New York Times’ Green blog, ECOtality has found that  a typical Leaf driver plugs in one to 1.1 times a day, whereas the average Volt driver plugs in about 1.5 times a day.

Studying the charging information it has collected from its network of charging points, fast approaching 13,000 charging stations across 21 metropolitan areas in the country, ECOtality has just  logged its millionth plug-in and collected about 42 million miles’ worth of data.

The firm, which installs home charging facilities as well as public charging points, also found that Volt drivers were more likely to use recharging facilities away from home, plugging in 21 per cent of the time, as opposed to Leaf drivers, who charge away from home only 11 per cent of the time.

“We never anticipated that a 40-mile-electric-range plug-in hybrid would charge more than a 100 per cent electric car,” Colin Read, ECOtality’s vice president for corporate development told the Times’ Green blog. “You have that gas engine that you’re paying an extra premium for for a reason.”

As to the exact reason why Volt drivers charge more often, whether it is environmental concern or just economical is unclear, but it seems that the range-anxious plug-in hybrid driver is slowly plugging into the idea of going fully electric.

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Electric cars, Hybrid cars

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