Electric vehicle consumers better off with electric range under 100 miles, study says

Aug 18, 2014

Until battery cost is cut down to $100 per kilowatt hour, the majority of U.S. consumers for battery electric vehicles (BEV) will be better off by choosing an electric vehicle with a range below 100 miles, according to a new study in the Articles in Advance section of Transportation Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

The research suggests reconsideration of the R&D goal that battery should have a similar to that of conventional vehicles. It also implies that the focus of policy and R&D should be on continued reduction of battery costs to make short-range BEVs more price-competitive. The focus should remain on deployment of charging infrastructure to improve usability of short-range BEVs that attract more potential buyers, as well.

The study Optimizing and Diversifying Electric Vehicle Driving Range for U.S. Drivers is by Zhenhong Lin, a senior R&D staff member at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The electric driving range of a BEV is optimized separately for each of the 36,664 sample drivers who represent U.S. new car drivers. It is based on their individual driving pattern and household vehicle flexibility. Key results are the distribution of optimized BEV range among US consumers and the change of such a distribution in response to cost reduction and charging infrastructure improvement.

The results of the study explain the dominance in the BEV market of products with an electric range below 100 miles, the author says.

Before the introduction of the Nissan Leaf (certified with a 73 mile electric range) in December 2010, BEV ranges were often assumed to be between 150 and 200 miles. Now, eight out of the ten BEV products on the US market are equipped with an electric range below 100 miles.

The paper extensively discusses the policy and R&D implications of the found distributions of optimal BEV range, providing insights for BEV-related policies and market strategies. The paper also includes sensitivity analysis and quantifies the significance of the optimization approach.

Explore further: Alcoa and Phinergy show electric car with aluminum-air battery

More information: Transportation Science, pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs… .1287/trsc.2013.0516

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User comments : 12

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freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2014
Leaf real world range 27-28 miles.

When my I'm told by my car that I only have that far to go, I get worried.

So with a leaf I would be worried constantly I wont make it.
supamark23
5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2014
Leaf real world range 27-28 miles.

When my I'm told by my car that I only have that far to go, I get worried.

So with a leaf I would be worried constantly I wont make it.


[citation needed] or you're just spreading FUD/libel.
therylmccoy
5 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2014
Yes finally someone who can think outside the box. Refreshing!
Why do people insist on comparing EVs to gas cars? 100 miles per day is plenty for 99% of drivers. Who drives more than 100 miles in a day? Hardly anyone. Just because our gas cars can go 300-400 miles on a tank of gas doesn't mean our EVs need to go that distance on a single charge. Do not compare!
We don't need charge station infrastructure. We charge at home! We are so accustomed to going to a "filling station". I have an EV and I have not been to any kind of filling station in 5 months. I don't need to charge my car anywhere outside my own home.
This EV thing is a different paradigm and we all need to think outside the box.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2014
Why do people insist on comparing EVs to gas cars? 100 miles per day is plenty for 99% of drivers.

While I do love EVs the range issue is a very real issue. Because it means that instead of having one car you now have to own two. Most people have trouble paying for one car (and finding a parking space) - owning two is completely out of the question for them.
(Also note that most EVs are rather small - which isn't particularly suited for families). Charging at home only works if you own a home ... and a fixed parking spot, too. Neither is the norm in cities.

The range issue needs to be solved - preferrably with refuelable flow batteries. I'd love to buy an EV but currently I have a weekly to biweekly trip that is 300-600km. That one trip alone keeps me from buying one (as the alternative rail/bus trip would take at least twice as long and costs more. And I tend to drive home at night where rail/bus isn't available at all)
Rockinghorse
1 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2014
This is just yet again good point that so called "researchers" have zero understanding on the new technology.

These results are however quite trivial to falsify. First of all the existence of Tesla Motors falsifies the entire thesis of this "study".

Secondly, in Norway, where short ranged electric cars (e.g. LEAF) are about twice cheaper than their ICE counterparts (e.g. VW Golf), their market share is only about 5 %. This means that only about 5 % of population is ready to buy an electric car and even then it is most likely a second car in the family that is mostly used for commuting.

This more or less nails it that it is just utterly impossible for short ranged EVs to ever achieve larger market share than few percent — even if batteries were free. They are just too unpractical and you could as well commute by bus.

Today, long range EVs are great in price category above $50 000. And this category consist about 2 % of all cars sold. This is potentially 1–2 million EVs globally.
shavera
not rated yet Aug 19, 2014
I own and drive a Leaf every day. Range is 75 miles in winter (colder battery, less efficient) and closer to 100 miles in Summer. "freethinker" is full of it.

It does work for us because we have two cars. So on the maybe once every couple months need to travel outside the city by car, we use my wife's prius. So yeah it kind of requires a second car... but in theory, you could probably rent a gas car too if you needed to get out of the city.
shavera
not rated yet Aug 19, 2014
Antialias: I'd say that actually the leaf is a pretty prime example of a really reasonably roomy car (crossover/hatchback type car). Certainly family friendly.

Rockinghorse: I cannot imagine that the leaf is "twice cheaper than their ICE counterparts." It's about as expensive as hybrid cars of similar size/styling which in turn are a bit more expensive than pure ICE cars. Second, they've only been on market a short time, and people don't instantly rush out and buy brand new cars the moment they're out. What was the market penetration of a prius after it's initial launch?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 19, 2014
Quoting here from an article in a german newspaper who did a test last month: Real range (cold weather) vs. range given by manufacturer
Tesla: 207km vs. 502km
Leaf: 69km vs. 199km.
BMW i3: 61km vs. 130-160km
Mitsubishi i-MIEV: 61km vs. 150km
Renault Zoe: 59km vs. 100-150km

...and these are with new batteries. With old batteries that drops another 10-20 percent.

With the exception of the Tesla none of these would suffice for my daily commute to work (let alone daily commute plus shopping trip or similar). The Tesla is way too expensive - and wouldn't fit the parking space I have in any case.

Unfortunately they're not practical for me at current levels of performance (and it does get quite cold here for appreciable fractions of the year).
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2014
61KM if I did my math right is 41.4 miles on new batteries.... give it a year or two..... 27-28 miles.

Don't anyone get me wrong, I want to get rid of ICE as they are now over 100 year old technology. I just want a practical alternative.

Currently (and I hope it changes) battery powered cars are less environmentally friendly than ICE vehicles. Wish it wasn't true, hope it will change, but it doesn't get rid of that fact.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 20, 2014
Currently (and I hope it changes) battery powered cars are less environmentally friendly than ICE vehicles.

Erm..how exactly are you going to argue that?
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 24, 2014
Even if 100 miles or less was technically sufficient, it simply doesn't offer a sufficient safety margin for drivers. Simply forgetting to plug your car in for the night, or having a breaker out, or a blackout during the night will give you a nasty surprise in the morning when you car won't take you to work and recharging it will take another 8 hours. It's simply unacceptable - unless you like living one mistake away from failure.

The 100 miles limitation is an economic one, because lithium ion batteries age over time as well as with use. More range means more cost, but the miles you drive will remain largely the same because 90% of the time you're still doing the same work-shop-home routine. The large battery will go old in roughly the same time as the small battery, which means you spend more $$ per mile, which makes driving the long-range EV too costly in comparison.

I've been pointing this out multiple times in the past, but everyone was just too caught up in the hype, I guess.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 24, 2014
Before the introduction of the Nissan Leaf (certified with a 73 mile electric range) in December 2010, BEV ranges were often assumed to be between 150 and 200 miles. Now, eight out of the ten BEV products on the US market are equipped with an electric range below 100 miles.


That's largely because they never had ranges between 150-200 miles. Those ranges quoted were based on nearly fraudulent testing regimes that assume average speeds as low as 24 mph, and still the EV producers are trying to cheat their way around the system by quoting range figures at say 55 mph instead of 65 or 70 mph. They do this with regular cars as well.

The ranges dropped because the EPA and other agencies, and the media, started doing real world tests on these vehicles and determined that their actual range is often less than 50% of what was claimed.

If you check on the vehicles themselves, the battery capacities before and after are largely identical. Just the range testing methods changed.

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