Workplace Charging Increases Miles Driven Annually For Both Chevrolet Volt And Nissan LEAF

9 months ago by Mark Kane 20

Average Annual Miles per Vehicle for Vehicles in the EV Project Compared to National Averages (source: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy)

Average Annual Miles per Vehicle for Vehicles in the EV Project Compared to National Averages (source: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy)

2016 Nissan LEAF Sees All-Electric Range Improve To 107 Miles

2016 Nissan LEAF

Workplace charging stations bring significant benefits to electric cars, because recharging a battery at work effectively increases electric range, virtually doubling range in some cases.

While we all understand that it’s an important addition to home charging, the Idaho National Laboratory provides some stats for Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts from the EV Project.

As it turns out, LEAFs and Volts that were recharged at work drove up to 25% more miles than average (with or without workplace charging station). It’s clear that a comparison with cars without access to workplace charging would bring even higher differences, but those numbers sadly weren’t included.

There could be two reasons – the first is that more range available encourages one to drive more, while the second is more fundamental as it could be someone who buys an EV with workplace charging available from the beginning because it’s required to meet daily driving needs.

Chevrolet Volt Get A "Solar Charge" Outside GM's Hamtramck Facility

Chevrolet Volts

Interesting is that Volts from the previous generation drive more all-electric miles than pure electric LEAFs (24 kWh) regardless of comparing all, or just those with workplace charging station, but we already saw this conclusion in other reports.

“The EV Project conducted by Idaho National Laboratory showed that plug-in vehicle owners with access to workplace charging (WPC) had higher vehicle miles of travel (VMT) than those without. The Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs with WPC increased their all-electric VMT or eVMT by about 25%. The Chevrolet Volts without WPC averaged about 74% of their overall VMT on electricity. Those with WPC averaged an additional 2,336 miles on electricity and eVMT rose to 83% of their overall VMT. The bottom bar of the graph shows the national average annual VMT for vehicles during their first three years which is comparable to the vehicle ages in the study. With WPC, the overall VMT for the Chevrolet Volts in the study exceeded the national average annual VMT for vehicles in their first three years.”

Source: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

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20 responses to "Workplace Charging Increases Miles Driven Annually For Both Chevrolet Volt And Nissan LEAF"

  1. Ash09 says:

    I love my 2014 Volt. Though I don’t have workplace charging, that gas engine is nice during these cold winters up north. Sucks using gas, but I’ll make up for it when it gets warmer.

    1. ffbj says:

      Sucks using gas? Good One!

  2. You realize the data from this study originated from a 2010-2013 Dept of Energy study called “The EV Project”. This at the time a 2011 LEAF had a 73 mile range, and 2011 Volt had a 35 mile range. At the time there was very limited charging infrastructure in N. American for the 5000-25,000 PEVs on the road. The number of DC Quick Chargers over the course of the project was 4-90 … of the projects planned 350 public DCQC deployments. Today fewer than 70 (Blink) locations remain accessible and serviceable. Most of the public AC Level2 charging EVSE are limited to delivering only 3.3 kW power in a world where over 60% of PEVs are capable of charging at 6+ kW rate.

    In 2016 the LEAF can travel 107 miles and the Volt 53 miles on a full electric charge. There are now over ~1700 DCQC and ~420,000 PEVs on US roads traveling Billions of miles a year.

    After five years Dept. of Energy’s data is out dated as 1950’s NHTSA crash test studies. If Dept of Energy is going to publish reports in PEVs, they need to do so with modern reverent data, or at a minimum clearly state the context of their study data!

    Why is Dept. of Energy not doing more to study current PEV owner patterns?

    1. It certainly makes sense for public “faster charging” but at $100k ea. they may actually be less cost effective. Slow and low cost is a good thing sometimes. Our cars are parked 21-23 hours a day so what’s the rush at work, airports and hotels? The whole “fill up” scenario has to be thought of differently. Influencing EV adoption takes combined efforts and technologies.

    2. vdiv says:

      There are still a lot more of the older Volts/Leafs on the roads than there are the new ones. Also studies take time.

  3. Lou says:

    Brian: Of course you are correct, but I don’t think that actually changes the overall tone of this article. WPC adds to VMT, simple to understand and although the urgency of needing WPC decreases for many newer EV owners(such as those with the 2016 MY Volt and the 107 mile LEAF), WPC is still a valuable benefit. There are quite a few “old” LEAFS with the 84 mile range as well as a majority of Volts that do no better than 40 miles AER. WPC for them(and others)would be a great help and would increase overall electric miles driven. But it would be nice, as you pointed out, to see an updated study. I dearly wish I had WPC as it would double(in winter)my AER.


    1. Lou,

      Great points … no disagreement from me as true answer to WPC (workplace charging) depends on need of individual owners & vehicle they drive.

      There are many valid reasons for having and encouraging WPC. eg: an employee in a multi-family residence without dedicated parking, or a longer range commuter, etc.

      This is why we need new and ongoing studies to better understand driver charging habits and needs. As the PEV fleet has grown beyond 420,000 … a study involving ~8,000 including just 2 vehicle models has become less and less statistically significant. The “EV Project” now represents less than 2% of PEVs in use today. (~8,000/420,000)

  4. KenZ says:

    This data is also likely highly skewed by the fact that many of these vehicles are lease vehicles and are thus driven to a particular distance cap based on the lease restrictions. I don’t know the answer to this, but it is POSSIBLE that there are, say, a higher percentage of 10,000 mile annual distance cap Leafs and a higher percentage of 12,000 mile annual distance cap Volts, thus skewing the data to higher distances for Volts.

    What I’d like to see is the subset of this information for OWNERS, and exclude all leases.

    1. Nate says:

      I don’t know about that. Maybe so. I am a decent amount under my lease miles. Could have gotten by with 11k per year instead of 12k. It happened the other time I leased too a while back. On a new/newer puchased car I keep the miles off more so it gets less wear and holds better resale. On an old beater I keep the miles off to reduce maitenace/repairs. No matter what you pay per mile, but electric miles are still cheaper even with cheap gas:)

  5. jmac says:

    “Workplace charging stations bring significant benefits to electric cars, because recharging a battery at work effectively increases electric range, virtually doubling range in some cases.”

    So says the article…..

    But an even better way to end range anxiety is inductive charging. In the future EVs equipped with inductive chargers will be charged automatically, without cords, at many stores, work places and event destinations.

    Imagine driving 75 miles one way in your Leaf to see a Green Bay Packers game. While you are enjoying the game your car is being charged over an induction charge plate in the stadium parking lot, so that when the game is over, you just go to your car, climb in and it’s ready for the 75 mile trip home. Once home in the garage the car is parked again over an inductive charger in the garage. And so, the no cords cycle remains unbroken… electric fast charger kiosks, no gas station stops.

    Goodbye to range anxiety and goodbye to electric cords and 20 minute “emergency” stops at the fast charger. With inductive chargers all over the place, range anxiety melts away. Plugging in would then be reserved for long range trips.

    Inductive charging offers huge advantages over the old gas station model. We are only using plugs in these early days of EVs because that’s what was readily available from the electrical infra-structure.

    Once an inductive charging infra structure is built out there will be no need to be tied up somewhere getting a half hour emergency charge. I figured it out once and for someone who drives 15,000 miles per year it only costs about $30-50 dollars more per YEAR for the unbelievable convenience inductive charging. At $50 a year it only costs $500 dollars for ten years of inductive charging.

    This is a no-brainer. Cars will of course remain equipped with plugs so that stubborn, hard-headed people who insist on saving a measly $500 over a ten year period can still go through the plug-in ritual if they want to.

    1. Djoni says:

      Are you working for any wireless charging company?
      Sure it would be practical, but it’s not so common, ubiquitous or standardize.
      It took forever to create the J1772 standards and it’s still not worldwide similar.
      If by now we haven’t been able to spread as many cheap hardwire charging station I can imagine that it will take eternity to get some more expensive wireless everywhere.
      Unless there is a common big manufacturer push to implement such a standard with appropriate funding from their part, it’s far, far away.
      Right now, I can charge my car anyplace that is electrified because it’s possible to plug in.
      Wireless would put handcuff if car are made with only this possibility.

      1. jmac says:

        To Don C

        No, I don’t work for any company selling inductive chargers. I am in no way connected with EVs commercially and make zero dollars from the electric vehicle movement,selling aftermarket stuff, running a website, etc.

        I actually got interested in EVs mostly because I was interested first in solar energy. Also interested in RC hobby planes which are more and more going electric.

        You’re right about inductive charging being some ways off and likely to be more expensive than plug-in technology, plus the efficiency is appx. 90% of hard wired plugs. It will be a while before we see Inductive widely distributed but I think it’s eventually the way to go.

        When Rolls Royce was considering building an electric version 2 or 3 years ago, included in the cars specs was a built-in IC charger underneath the car (which was also equipped with a plug). It’s likely plugs will be around around for some time. But, if new EVs came with a wireless charger option along with the regular charge port, then the plug-in purists would not get upset and those who wanted the convenience of wireless charging could purchase it as an option.

  6. DonC says:

    Other than confirming that you don’t need much electric range to rack up the EV miles, the Volt numbers are the most interesting. Having work place charging did increase the number of EV miles driven, which makes sense, and increased the percentage of EV miles driven, which makes sense. However, it also correlates with driving more miles, which doesn’t really make sense. The Leaf you can understand because of range limitations. But the Volt doesn’t really have any.

    I wonder if having work place charging available made it more likely that people would buy an EV or if workplaces that support EVs have workers with longer commutes, or if it’s just noise.

  7. jmac says:

    I got you mixed up with Don C. Sorry. My remarks to Don C were actually for you.

    One Inside EVs reader said he uses an after-market wireless charging kit for his Volt and loves it.. And now Nissan is making noises that they might offer it as an option on the Leaf.

    I have no axe to grind here, and I’m not holding a gun to anybody’s head trying to force them to accept wireless charging. It just seems to me that this is a logical step for EVs in the not too distant future.

    1. DonC says:

      Especially since I love the idea of wireless charging. So simple. So convenient. So impervious to forgetting to plug in …. LOL

  8. ModernMarvelFan says:

    This shows the fact that with WPC, people drives more EV miles.

    It also shows that LEAF owners in general drives less than national average where Volt owners tend to drive more than national average. That is from self selection bias.

  9. Anthony says:

    I have a Volt and while workplace charging did allow me to increase my overall electric mileage, it didn’t pay in terms of time – the EV charging point was about 1/2 mile away (one way, 1 mi round trip) from my office on our campus (it wasn’t that far as the crow flies, but buildings and “approved walkways” made it a longer walk). So I quit doing it after a year. I still am about 250MPG lifetime on my 2012 Volt, and that’s good enough for me.

    1. ffbj says:

      …and you are probably 5 lbs lighter and feel better. I think a natural consequence of the adoption of the evs will contribute to more a more pleasant environment for walking.

  10. SJC says:

    Work place charging is a good benefit to employees, it says the company cares. We need some major players to do this then we might see more.

  11. John Hipchen says:

    I have over 76,000 miles on my 2012 Leaf. Low current workplace charging is what makes this car work for me. We need more.