Study Finds Chevy Volt Drivers Have Gas Anxiety

5 years ago by Lyle Dennis 8

The Chevrolet Volt was purpose built to allow people to drive an electric car without experiencing range anxiety, the scary feeling that the battery could run out before returning home.  As such, the car lets drivers travel up to 40 miles gas free before the generator turns on.

EV charging company Ecotality has published a report on EV owners’ charging habits, and it has been reported in the New York Times.  Ecotality is working to establish a public charging infrastructure of 13,000 stations across the US and so far has installed about two thirds of them.

The study has tracked the charging behavior of about 6000 Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf drivers.

The study found that most drivers do their charging at home, to avoid range anxiety.  “If you have a home charging station, you don’t really need to rely too much on commercial infrastructure,” said Ecotality CEO Colin Read “Home charging meets a lot of our needs.”

However the study surprisingly showed that Volt owners much more often opted to use public charging stations, than those driving pure EVs.  Volt owners plugged in their cars into public stations 1.5 times for every 1.1 time Leaf owners did. Volt owners charged away from home 21% of the time versus 11% of the time for Leaf owners.

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

As a two year plus Volt driver I can certainly agree with the desire to keep plugging in my Volt to avoid using gas.  Having a small battery makes that a challenge.   I also feel a sense of guilt when taking the car on long road trips knowing I am burning gas.

Indeed it is well known that Volt owners often challenge themselves to see how far they can make it on one charge or to see how high they can keep their lifetime MPG.

So what’s better range anxiety or gas anxiety? The choice is yours, but at least you have one.

Source (New York Times)

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8 responses to "Study Finds Chevy Volt Drivers Have Gas Anxiety"

  1. It’s not really ‘Gas Anxiety’ it’s more the fact they’ve paid the premium for the engine, so are going to avoid paying extra to run the car at every opportunity. Obviously going on a long trip they’ll be laughing as everyone else in pure EV have to stop for several hours to charge up.

  2. Stuart22 says:

    Prepare yourself to have double the gas anxiety you had before when you trade your Volt in for your new Ford, Lyle -:)

    I admit it, gas anxiety is real, just as range anxiety is real with a BEV. Difference is that GA is benign while RA can be panic inducing. I try hard to pack all my driving in below the transition point, but when I cannot, I just drive on, chagrined a bit but with acceptance that I have to keep going along with satisfaction that I am able to.

    I think if the ‘lifetime average MPG’ were not shown in the instrumentation, it would be easier to not think about it. Kind of like jogging with a HR monitor vs. just jogging for pleasure.

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      Prepare yourself to have double the gas anxiety you had before when you trade your Volt in for your new Ford, Lyle -:)

      I am afraid of that myself, though at least the charge sustaining MPG is significantly higher.

  3. James says:

    Everyone in a Prius is jealous of the guy who they see on the highway

    in a Leaf, Tesla, Fisker or Volt. It’s natural – they bought the car to be

    stingy on gas and there goes someone who is using less. I think it’s

    great. In days of old – it was all about speed. The guy with the two

    barrel carb drooled at the new car with that four barrel. Everyone

    was out to out-speed the next guy from one stoplight to the next or

    down the quarter mile.

    Now we can challenge the status quo of gas mileage. So you

    bought the “Eco” Cruze or Malibu, but could have bought

    the plug-in hybrid! You see the guy in the Volt at the pump,

    knowing he fills up once per month or two, when you are

    chained to the pump.

    Today, just about everyone has a “Ferrari or Mercedes”

    tinge when they see a Model S owner ….because this

    represents our current ( perhaps unobtainable pricewise )

    state-of-the-EV-art. Even so

    rejoice Volt and PHEV owners…you still have that

    security to go on as long as you wish – and not hope

    there’s a Supercharger on your travels soon.

    “Gas Anxiety” would just be that wish that soon

    PHEVs can be bought that’ll take us farther on AC,

    while “Range Anxiety” is a real, palpable fear that

    you might be walking or hitching a ride to get home.

  4. Mark H says:

    To continue where James left off.

    I am not sure how a owner of a PHEV (Volt) would report such a study without his own explanation. From the first reviews written by individuals given a Chevy Volt or “any” PHEV, one finds the desire to drive on electricity opposed to gas almost immediately. That is after all the point!

    Let’s break it down further. Two gas stations on opposing corners. One offers gas for ten cents less. You are closer to the higher price station yet you fill compelled to wait for the red light and make it to the other side.

    Now the savings are much greater than this with electricity, and unless you are “Bogarting” the charging station in your Volt when a BEV really needs it, there is no down side. Look for L1 charging to grow along with L2 and L3. A business can offer L1 charging a lot cheaper and this will handle the needs of most PHEVs.

    ANXIETY or EVOLUTION???

  5. Koz says:

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

    Really? Wow! The CEO of Ecotality did not anticipate this? That is shocking to me. Perhaps he bought into that whole “Volt is just another hybrid” crappy argument that was made. The rule that is eminently logical, at least seems so to me, is that plug-in capable cars will…well…how can put this without sounding sarcastic…they will be plugged in. The shorter the range, the more often they will require plugging in to be driven electrically. Regardless of whether they are a regular plug-in hybrid, a plug-in EREV, or a BEV. This logic predicts the Energi C-Max will plug-in more and the Model S less.

    The only differentiator that may skew the the statistics somewhat is HOV access. There are some CA drivers that buy just for the sticker. With the high cost of electricity and no underlying desire to displace gas consumption, drivers who feel this way will probably plug in less.

  6. Philip says:

    Obviously the reason Volt drivers plug in more than LEAF drivers is that they have about half the range and in order to drive on electricity they have to charge more.

    Simple…

  7. James says:

    Also true is that Volt “gas anxiety” – which isn’t exactly an “anxiety” as
    much as the growing intent to drive on AC as much as possible… is
    quelled if GM places a more efficient gasoline genset inside.

    Switching from electric back to gas enroute has less of a jarring
    psychological effect when your Volt is still achieving 55mpg,
    humming along in CS mode propelled by a balance-shafted,
    direct-injected, uber-efficiant three cylinder ICE.

    In all, we all realize PHEVs and EREVs are bridge technologies
    to get us closer to a 300-400 mile BEV fast-charging future.