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)