Refueling Versus Charging For Short Trips: Bjørn Compares


How does the EV charging process compare to refueling when it comes to short trips?

Bjørn Nyland makes it very clear here that he’s talking about virtually any battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and only for daily short trips around the city (less than 35 km/22 miles). He says that people always talk about EVs in terms of charging for long distances. However, as we previously reported, most people actually travel shorter distances, albeit, perhaps, multiple times in a given day.

While these short-trip miles all add up, this is very different than getting on the road in an EV with the goal of driving 100-200 miles or more before stopping to charge. In the long-distance situation, no matter which EV you drive, it’s still going to take a bit of time to “top off” the battery for the next leg of your trip. With that being said, there are many people who are able to use their electric vehicle for road trips. A handful of today’s BEVs will allow you to drive for several hours before stopping. Simply make a bathroom stop, stretch out, grab a meal, and you’re back on the road.

Now, let’s take a look at Bjørn’s unique and somewhat silly, “short trip” analysis.

Diesel fueling:

Nyland’s first stop requires refueling a diesel “fossil” car. He adds 10.54 U.S. gallons, which costs the equivalent of $76 USD (fuel isn’t cheap in Europe). The entire process takes about two minutes, plus the time it took him to drive to and from the gas station. He goes out of his way to show the “negatives” of dealing with a gas pump, including dripping diesel and smelly hands. The car Nyland is driving even has a keyed gas cap and he makes sure to show his dealings with the credit card acceptor, etc. Keep in mind that he has to be with the car and in control during the entire process.

Electric vehicle charging:

Nyland’s obvious goal is to show how simple the process is (and he’s right). He pops open the charging port and plugs in. Sadly, he doesn’t reveal what he did while the car was charging or how long the actual charging took (he could have chosen to be highly productive during that time or he could have been sleeping). He’s trying to make it clear that electric car charging is clean, simple, convenient, and cheap. The point is that it takes about 10 seconds to plug the car in. Additionally, you don’t even have to drive to a gas station, many people can simply plug in at home and go to sleep. Their EV will be full in the morning and ready to handle several days of short trips.

How do you feel about the EV charging process compared to gassing up? Let us know in the comment section below.

Video Description via Bjørn Nyland on YouTube:

In this video I compare refueling time vs charging time for short trips around the city. Before you start complaining about it: I just happened to own a Tesla. But this could as well be a Leaf, Ioniq, i3 or e-Golf. Remember: I talk about short trips. Not long trips. Most people take daily short trips less than 35 km around their city.

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35 Comments on "Refueling Versus Charging For Short Trips: Bjørn Compares"

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Love my PHEV, it’s the best of both worlds.

PHEV with 100+ miles EV range and small range extender would be great in many ways. I wonder why nobody makes that kind of cars, except BMW. There are some serious design flaws in i3 Rex, but nothing wrong with the idea.

As an i3 owner myself just what do “you” consider to be the design flaws?

and worst of both as well.


Maintenance requirements; various inconveniences whenever exceeding all-electric range; and significant extra weight, space usage, and cost, without the increase in electric driving range that a bigger battery would bring instead…

I’m not saying PHEVs are all bad; but they aren’t strictly the best of both worlds either. They are a compromise, that might or might not be worthwhile, depending on circumstances and preferences.

One of the biggest benefits of EVs is home charging. This is clean and quiet and likely covers a very high percentage of miles traveled.
For those times when you do need to recharge on the go, your trip is likely pretty long (in time anyway) so the extra time spent in the charge station shouldn’t be a huge concern, especially once vehicles have a range over 300 miles. The current batch of shorter range vehicles might be a bit of a pain.
A couple nitpicky points:
there is no need to leave the petro pump, it’s only 2 mins.
most ICE vehicles can go very long distances on the highway, so stops during the trip are much more rare. It would be more accurate to compare whole trip stop times vs time during a single stop

300 miles range are not for highway speeds (100mph or more in Germany where I drive mostly). Model S 100 will barely get 200 miles of range with those speeds …

There is no way one can reach 100 mph for multiple hours in Getmany, except when you drive at three o’clock in the middle of the night. On many occasions the road surface is in a bad state and the number of road signs saying ‘Strassenschäden’ (road damage) is immense. Wonder if Tesla reads that automatically.

Actually my Subaru only gets 380 miles range on a gas tank. Versus 320 miles range for my Tesla model 3

Serious? Normal tank, or an after market one? I think most of my normal cars have had a range of 800-1200km.

I’ve also had 2 vans where the previous owner had installed a cruiser tank in (huge custom tanks that makes me cry inside when I pay for the fuel). My current van has one like that, and I can drive from Norway to Italy without the need to fill the tank. I don’t see the need for normal people, as I usually stop to eat several times and also sleep one night for a distance like that. It’s after all a passenger van, where slow and steady driving is much better then fast.
Maybe if you drive in remote areas, and need to run the diesel heaters for a few days it’s an advantage.

I think the extra large tanks exist almost exclusively for the benefit of people wanting to take advantage of fuel price differences between different countries.

I get the BEV for daily commute. My next car for commuting to work etc will be BEV. But I am doing around 15 drives per year that are 400miles+ (650km) two or three of them are even 650miles+ (over 1000km). Do you expect me to stop every 2 hours? 200miles or less (speeds are around 100mph – 160km/h) to recharge which takes what? 30 minutes? It just does not work (hopefully yet).

Jean-Baptiste Labelle
There is only in Germany that you can get at that speed and even then, this is impossible to go for 1000km at 160km/h in Germany, even during the night because of all the portion at 120km/h or Baustelle or others. This is simply not a practical example. First, let’s make things straight, a FULL charge does not require 2 hours but close to 1 hour. On top of that, the goal is NOT to make a full charge while waiting but making small pause at low SOC where you charge the quicker (10mn per 50 miles) so that you can reach the lunch/dinner/hotel where you will charge fully. Real life is that the S100D can do 450-480km at highway speed 120-130km/h. If you stop 12mn, you recover 100km of range (20kWh). So basically, you can make 550km minimum with a 12mn stop which usually required 5-6 hours minimum and sometimes longer so at that point, you would anyway have to stop after 6-7 hours of driving for lunch or dinner. I have a S75D, which has only a highway range of ~330-350km and with this 12mn stop, I get 430 km of range which is ~5 hours of driving… Read more »

He never claimed a full charge would take two hours; he claimed he’d had to stop *every* two hours for charging…

(Agree with the rest of you argument, though.)

We got the Leaf (used) for the kids to drive to school etc. Now, in most houses with teenagers, there’s always going to be a question about how the kids’ car gets refueled: is it their responsibility to keep the tank full? Who pays for the gas? What happens if no one filled the tank and it’s a school morning and everyone is busy ? Etc.

With the Leaf, we sidestep all that. I generally just check to make sure the charge cord is plugged in before I go to bed, and that’s that.

Very good comment! I’m getting my girls a used Volt or a Spark EV. They will be driving soon and not ever very far. We won’t have to worry about paying for any gas and they don’t have to deal with going to the gas station etc. It’s a win-win! This is something people with growing teens should surely consider.

If the kid’s daily driver is an EV, they’ll get spoiled by the smooth, quiet ride, and won’t want to drive the family gasser. Word to the wise. 🙂

Best possible outcome! 😉

I have a Subaru and a Model 3. I find myself using the Model 3 more and more because it is so much easier to just plug it in when I get home and then have 280 miles of range again. As for taking long trips,have they heard of aircraft?

It is cheaper to drive…

If your time is worth nothing then it is.

It’s cheaper to drive electric.

Your point regarding the Simplicity and ease of recharging every night supports the EV being a perfect commuter car solution. In order for EV’s to become accepted by the masses they have to clear some obstacles …range and charge time are two of those obstacles I have seen many on on e v forums bemoan seeing a single person in a large truck or SUV . I’ll agree advertising and ego is perhaps a factor in choosing those vehicles, but in the end it is because it can do all things that a person would need throughout a year. So to me, the solution is to keep advancing the technology to bring the range of bev’s equal to ice cars and ease/time close to equal with ice… It is not right now but I suspect it will get there.

As far as long distance goes, certainly you can agree that there probably are many situations where air travel is not the most convenient solution

Fully agree with @Richard.

Range and charge times. Nobody wants to have to stop frequently for long charges.

Add charger availability. Nobody wants to have to go out of their way (off the freeway) to find that pesky station at the local Raleys/Whole Foods only to find the 1-2 available bays are full.

Add charging costs. If it’s going to cost more than fueling gas, nobody would bother taking their BEV on trips that require costly charging. Why pay more only to have to wait?

Until the above are met, BEVs are great for city commutes only – as shown in this video. Plug in at home everyday.

I drive about 600 km (daily) for work purposes to/from customers. I charge at destination and at home. Takes less than a minute for plugging in/out.
When I do 2000+ km holiday trips, I use the SuC network. The other mentioned use-cases aren’t for the masses. The model 3 is. Finding a solution for your 0.1% needs the car isn’t suited for, is not a big deal.

The only reason 80% of people don’t drive an EV is price, and lack of models to choose from.
Infrastructure may be a small reason too.

Prices will come down, and more models will be for sale. Infrastructure is getting there as well. EV volume will rise, day by day.

For some, range may be an issue. You can buy a cheap POS ICE car, and it can cover a huge distance. You can not buy a cheap EV that can cover a long distance. Now it’s like 3-4 models and they’re all more expensive then an ICE car.

This video makes zero sense. I cannot make out what it is supposed to show.

It’s all about the clicks baby!

Kona, niro, leaf eplus, model 3 350000 USD. Make them available and most people will be fine. I could take that occasional trip to Alentejo, stop for 10 minutes and go. Just like that. No speed penalty, no excessive waiting. Granted, if I want to go to Paris, the situation will be a bit different but, I don’t go to Paris by car. This can however be different for other people. I think we should respect those who say EVs are not there yet (for them).

Sure, there are some people for whom EVs would indeed be an inconvenience today. The real problem however is the large number of people who only *think* EVs are not good enough for them yet, while in truth they are just misinformed…

Perhaps a not often thought of advantage is that you can smoke and use your mobile phone while charging.

Something that people seem to forget is that if you keep quick charging your EV with with short burst’s you’re going to massively reduce your batteries life. Tesla’s will stop you from doing this too often, so the idea of living off of quick charges doesn’t quite work in the real world.

Yet Tesla has begun installing dedicated “Urban Superchargers” for this use case… Can’t be that bad.

The math, displayed in the subtitles from 1:03, is a little non-orthodox: if one liter sells for 15.87 Kroner, this is roughly 60.00 Kr for 1 US gallon. The exchange rate being 1 NOK = 0.12 USD, this equals $7.20/gallon, not the “4.4 USD/gallon” he quotes.