Amanda Drago
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EV Owners Drive Half as Many Miles as the Average Driver

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The 2022 GMC Hummer EV on a snowy mountain
The 2022 GMC Hummer EV
Photo: GMC

According to a new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, EV owners only drive about half as many miles as other drivers. Researchers arrived at this discovery by studying the energy usage of EV owners in California.

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What did the study entail?

In the study, researchers from UC Berkeley, the University of California Davis, and the University of Chicago worked to find out how many miles EV owners put on the odometer. They were not able to access charging information for EVs since automakers keep that information private.

To work around this issue, researchers looked at about 10 percent of the Pacific Gas & Electric residential electricity meters. Researchers then checked EV registration records and determined which households had a registered EV.

What were the results of the study?

After comparing all of this information, they found that a household needs an estimated 2.9 kilowatt-hours of additional household electricity per day once it purchases an EV. This number takes into account the California Air Resources Board’s estimate that more than 85 percent of EV charging takes place at home.  

Once researchers estimated the household energy usage of EV owners, they were finally able to estimate that EV owners drive about 5,300 miles each year. This is roughly half the average miles driven by other drivers in the U.S.

There are numerous reasons why the study could have such a low mileage estimate for EV owners. For instance, it could be due to the small sample size used in the study, the possibility that fewer drivers charged their EVs at home than expected, or simply that EV owners tend to have shorter commutes than other drivers.

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The NBER study has not yet had a peer review. Once it has, it will be interesting to see how accurate the results are and if any further conclusions can be drawn.