Electric vehicle statistics mess

I try not to get involved in arguments about electric vehicles, mainly because I’m open-minded on the subject but also because there’s also plenty written for and against EVs elsewhere.Electric car statistics
However, I do want to get into the discussion about one particular measurement that keeps being trotted out to validate the future of electric cars. It comes in various forms, and it often reads something like this:

‘80% of journeys could be made using a electric car’


‘80% (or higher) of trips in a car are of less than 25 miles’

And I’m sure that’s the case, however (and this is where my grumble really starts)… what about those other 20% of journeys? How far are they?
In my case about 80% of my journeys are less than 5 miles, but the other 20% are well over 100 miles. So if you look at the distance I drive, the stats reverse.
So an electric car is only suitable for 20% of the distance I drive.
Now, I may not be typical in my car use, but at least now I feel better having pointed this out.

PS And I know I’ve failed on my opening remark.

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4 comments on “Electric vehicle statistics mess
  1. Ben Rose says:

    Absolutely spot on and it’s where my head has been for a long time.

    I could probably use a scooter for 80% of journeys, but do I want to?

    I could probably use a car without a roof for a majority of journeys but again, would I want to?

    I could possibly use public transport for many of those journeys, but would I want to?

    Ultimately, public transport is no use as I can’t live with the scheduled, fixed routes and limited hours. I need a roof for when it pours with rain and you can’t drive down the road holding an umbrella. The scooter doesn’t work as I have a family and they come in the car too – as do groceries and trips to Majestic for some wine.

    So why would I want an EV that also has similar compromises and even costs me MORE money.

    Usually one compromises to save money. We’d all like Sky+ HD with all the channels, but I can’t really afford it so we use Freeview+ HD. It saves us money and still covers us for 80% of the TV we’d like to watch.

    I’d like to drink Veuve Clicquot every time I drink Champagne but, again, the budget forces a compromise.

    I compromise, I save money.

    EVs are a compromise but also an increased cost. It makes no sense to me. I buy a car for a price that is considerably more an ICE or hybrid model and it doesn’t even meet my requirement – forcing me to have a hire car or second vehicles for those longer journeys.

    How does anybody come to the conclusion that buying one is a good idea? I’m quite sure for 80% of people, it simply doesn’t add up at all.

  2. Well said. Not many people can afford to spend £25k on a car to do little more than commute to work in. They (quite reasonably) expect that investment to allow them to visit friends & relatives, take them on weekends away, day trips to sports events or the seaside and much more besides.

    Some 2 car families, where the 2nd car does almost exclusively short journeys, may benefit from buying an EV. However, most people in that position tend to run something like a £6k secondhand Ford Fiesta as the 2nd car – the market for £25k 2nd cars may exist but is very small, as EV manufacturers are about to find out.

  3. I too get increasingly annoyed about frankly stupid, quick, PR statements that are simply lies and extrapolated “positive” comments about EVs. Some culprits, like AutomotivePR are simply breathtaking in their nonsense that gets Tweeted and printed. Many journalists regurgitate this stuff without applying a brain cell of critical analysis and common sense.

    The statements about the Mini “survey” today (of people who had been using an Electric Mini, so hardly a typical sample) were outrageously biased.

    On the “80% of journeys” claim, after the event, on analysis, that actually may be accurate. But as pointed out, that certainly does not mean 80% of distance driven, and it relies on the use of a crystal ball. It also presumes that before every journey you undertake a meticulous “flight plan” as you can’t modify your journey in the same way as a conventionally fuelled car.

    First of all, to be confident your journey is “do-able” in your EV, you need to ensure you start with a full charge (or do the maths and figure out how many miles remain) and also that you end up at a destinantion with charging infrastructure. Then, you need to be fairly certain you won’t be diverted (“oh, can you pick Lucy from school on the way home, nip to the supermarket for milk, and then drop Lucy off at your mum’s 25 miles away?”). And what happens in winter when your wife and kids are stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway with lights, heater, wipers and radio on? Or in summer with the aircon on? When do you start driving with no headlights and a window open to demist, in silence, to save electricity?

    What happens when someone forgets to flip the switch and you wake up to see that your car hasn’t been charged overnight? Do you write off the whole day? Do you wake up in the middle of the night worrying it’s on charge? What happens if you get an emergency call and have to nip to the hospital? Do you risk the car with just 20 miles left on the meter?


    Answers to all the arguments about electric car development actually lie in far higher fuel prices (or fuel shortages – the same thing in practice). That will be the main catalyst for any advance in EV and other alternative technology.

    So, why do most people (including the foolish AA President, and many, many voices, etc) constantly clamour for cheaper petrol and diesel prices? Pandering to populist stupidity.

    In my view, we would do well to see £5 a litre of fuel. That will really enable an advance in alternative vehicle power. It’s a (popular) mistake to demand cheap fuel, in my opinion. It’s far cheaper than it should be.

    Most people waste a lot of driven miles, driving a car is still extremely discretionary (ie, “let’s go for a drive”). You see people leaving engines running, just wasting fuel, and living far from their work (creating a commute). This should not happen, really. You don’t switch on your oven for fun, or run a water tap just for the hell of it, or leave the door open on your fridge, or leave lights on all day “for fun/enjoyment” . In the same way, driving should be frowned upon if it’s not a necessary journey.

    What is necessary? Well, that’s up to you, but as I say… people run a bath without guilt, but often prefer a shower and would certainly not just run the hot water away for the hell of it. Yet a lot of energy goes into providing hot (and cold) water, just like into making petrol and diesel.

    High fuel prices are GOOD, people will vote with their wallets and frankly learn to adapt to a new style of car use. So increase that fuel tax!

    The answer is not Hydrogen, by the way, terrible stuff: TopGear got that bit VERY wrong the other night.

    But, TG were right about the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot i-Skip or whatever it’s called. They are VERY niche and pointless at the moment. Range anxiety is a right killer. The voices relentlessly plugging EVs need to start tackling the truth and real issues, not just vomiting relentless PR and lies (like the 2p/mile cost claim made about the Minis).


  4. Fleetdrive says:

    It’s true EV’s are restricted in there usage but it’s just a different way of using a vehicle. I do really find the speculation about EV’s fantastic – that’s why we bought 2 to find out how it really goes down. I am a petrol head of 40 years now, I love racing cars and from the age of 6 spent most of my time alongside my dad at his bodyshop. Believe me – until you have lived with these you cannot really have an opinion. Sure it’s restrictive and you have to respect the range and at present the cars are so expensive the fuel savings evaporate BUT this is going to happen and sooner rather than later – the LEAF is such a great car to drive and we have had people use one at rate of of 30k miles a year ( 600 miles a week for a month) . Once the manufacturers get to a decent price they will sell like hotcakes.

    Mike Potter

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