Forget range anxiety, Volt owners have gas anxiety

Charging data by a charging infrastructure company suggests that Volt owners are concerned about relying on their gas engine, Gordon-Bloomfield writes.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
In this January 2010 file photo, the Chevy Volt appears on display at the Washington Auto Show, in Washington. Electric cars tend to charge at home most of the time, with a single nightly charge providing more than enough range for daily driving duties, according to a new study.

When General Motors launched the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid back in 2010, it chose to emphasize how it differed from electric cars by highlighting how its gasoline engine meant folks didn’t suffer from range anxiety.

Now, almost two years after the Volt launched, charging data by a charging infrastructure company suggests that Volt owners have exactly the opposite problem: gas anxiety.

In short, Volt owners do everything they can to avoid using their car’s built-in gasoline-powered range extending engine.

And that means plugging in more often than all-electric cars, like the 2012 Nissan Leaf.

The data comes from electric car charging provider Ecotality, which has been tracking the charging habits of around 6,000 plug-in car drivers in the U.S. as part of a $230 million research project part funded by the U.S. Department of Energy

Known as the EVproject, Ecotality offered plug-in drivers a free home charging station, as well as access to its nationwide public charging network, in exchange for collecting anonymous data on charging patterns. 

The EVproject was set up to see the viability and demand of electric vehicle charging, but its findings so far confirm what many electric car advocates predicted would happen. 

First, the EVProject’s data shows that those with electric cars like the 2012 Nissan Leaf tend to charge at home most of the time, with a single nightly charge providing more than enough range for daily driving duties. 

“If you have a home charging station, you don’t really need to rely too much on commercial infrastructure,” Colin read, Ecotality’s vice president for corporate development told The New York Times

“Home charging meets a lot of our needs,” he continued, pointing out that 89 percent of all Nissan Leaf charging takes place at home. 

Second, plug-in hybrids, like the 2013 Chevrolet Volt, tend to spend more time charging their cars than their all-electric counterparts.

Moreover, those with Chevrolet Volts are 11 percent more likely to charge away from home than Leaf owners. 

With gas prices reaching unexpectedly high levels in parts of the U.S., it is logical to expect plug-inhybrid owners to prefer using electricity over gasoline wherever possible. 

Although the data corroborates what GM, and Volt owners--already knew about the Volt--that it was primarily an electric car--Read, and Ecotality, were surprised by the data. 

“We never anticipated that a 40-mile[sic]-electric-range plug-in hybrid would charge more than a 100 percent electric car,” he said. “You have that gas engine that you’re paying an extra premium for a reason.”

We’re not surprised to learn that Volts charge more often than Leafs, but are you? 

Do you own a Volt? And how would you describe your charging habits? 

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