Counterintuituve: You'd Probably Spend Less Time Charging An Electric Car Than Fueling A Gas Car −

100% Electric Vehicles

Published on August 28th, 2015 | by Zach


Counterintuituve: You’d Probably Spend Less Time Charging An Electric Car Than Fueling A Gas Car

I’ve written about it before, but I’ve never put it in such clear words as Brian Kent did recently in a video explaining the 48-state negative-carbon US road trip he just started in his Nissan LEAF:



Thanks to Brian and (@100isNow) for the photo with Mark Ruffalo, above, taken recently at an event in New York State.

If you ever read an article in the mainstream media or talk to someone who knows a little bit about electric cars (you know what they say about a little bit of knowledge), you are sure to run into “obligatory” comments about “how hard it is” to find public charging stations and “how long it takes” to charge an EV. The thing is, such comments are missing ~95% of the story. Literally.

Even the Nissan LEAF and just about every other electric car on the market (not to mention the long-range Tesla Model S) have about 70 to 90 miles of range on a single charge. Take off 10–20 miles for a safe buffer or poor driving conditions that deplete range faster, and you are still left with 50–80 miles of range with these vehicles.

In the US, about 99% of trips are under 50 miles.

Distance-Distribution-Car-Trips Car-trip-distance-cumulative

If you assume no charging outside of home (no workplace charging, no charging stations at the shopping center, etc), still, Americans drive ~55 miles or fewer about 80% of days… averaged across the population. That takes into account outliers like those people who drive 100 miles a day on a regular basis (my condolences to such people). At 80 miles, the number jumps to about 90% of days. Most of us, though, drive that much in a single day just a few times a year.

Daily-distance-car-distribution daily-distance-car-distribution_cumulative

So, for many of us, having an electric car would simply mean plugging in at home ~95% of the time we charge, and that takes just a few seconds. You don’t have to find a gas station, get off the road, fill up, wait in line, pay, get back in the car, and get back into traffic. Without a doubt, driving an electric car would be more convenient for many if not most of us. It would save us time, stress, and human energy.

And accepting the proverb “time is money,” we can say it would also save us a ton of money.

Before you go off the deep end about trips you need to take to another region or state, let’s also remember that most US households have more than one car. For those long trips to visit grandma, if your electric car isn’t ideal, you can probably just hop in the other car… if you’re willing to drive a gas car such long distances.


While saving time is great, all of that is ignoring the superior drive quality of electric cars! For more on that topic, see:

Why A Nissan LEAF Or Renault ZOE Beats A Mercedes A180, Mercedes C180, Or BMW 320i

The #1 Reason Why Electric Cars Will Dominate The Car Market

Electric Cars Are Totally Bloody Awesome (Missed Messaging)

Electric Car Convenience vs Range Anxiety Anxiety

8 Reasons Electric Cars Kick Your Car’s Boot


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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, SCTY, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB. After years of covering solar and EVs, he simply had a lot of faith in these companies and felt like they were good companies to invest in as a portion of his retirement strategy. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • So – it is most obvious that Charging at home is #1, but also charging at work is #1b! (Not actually #2 – since not everyone can charge at home – so it becomes their #1 charging spot, and for those who drive further than normal – work charging becomes the deal breaker for today’s shorter range EV’s)

    That said – even the coming 200 mile Range EV’s will still need Workplace charging for those who can’t charge at home, and will likely need 240V x 20 Amp as a minimum – same as at home; with 240V x 40 Amp charging desirable for a few!

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