The PEV Usage Study: Identifying Barriers

For two years, our Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Consumer Usage Study took an in-depth look at the driving and charging trends of 40 all-electric vehicles. Beginning in January 2012, it documented and evaluated general characteristics and usage patterns for the PEV consumer market. The purpose was to identify potential barriers to widespread adoption of PEVs and the charging infrastructure that supports them.

We leveraged a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and North Carolina State Energy Office consumer adoption initiative to offer drivers a $7,500 vehicle incentive toward the purchase of a Nissan LEAF, on top of the available $7,500 federal tax credit. In exchange for the incentive, consumers agreed to participate in the study.

In collaboration with the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition, we also administered the PEV infrastructure portion of a DOE grant to work with corporate campus partners to deploy 24 charging stations at workplaces and educate employees about the benefits of driving electric. Many of the study participants worked at one of these corporate campuses.

To collect vehicle data, we partnered with the Nissan Corporation Technology Center to gather information on 15 specific parameters. Nissan provided and installed the advanced data-logging devices and compiled a monthly report of driving and charging activity. Quarterly surveys were also conducted to learn about participants’ PEV experiences.

The study found that of the drivers charging at work, 52 percent charged daily, while 20 percent charged every other day, and 28 percent charged once a week. At least 48 percent of the drivers could complete their daily commute without charging at work. The study’s qualitative data showed that, over the two-year period, 30,000 gallons of gasoline were displaced, 800,000 electric miles were driven, 1,600 barrels of crude oil were avoided, and 82,000 dollars were saved on fuel costs. Furthermore, 92 percent of participants said that they are still driving electric.

Since the study began, we have been awarded two Triangle Clean Cities Coalition Stakeholder Excellence Awards for petroleum displacement. The real-world behavior data collected has also been used to determine best practices and guidelines for vehicle technology and infrastructure deployment, to identify potential impacts to the electric grid and to reduce barriers to widespread PEV adoption.