For Every Mile in a Gas-Guzzler, We’ve Driven Four in an Electric Car (Guest Post)

For years, we have been informed by all the studies that the current generation of electric cars are suitable up to 95 percent of all daily trips made by around 95 percent of the population. But we all know that while statistics are all well and good, the real-world can often be different.

Transport Evolved listener Dennis Pascual made the transition from gasoline to electric several years ago and now has what he calls a ‘hybrid garage’. A garage that contains both electric and non-electric cars. A year ago, Dennis started logging his family’s car use in order to find his ‘real-world’ usage. 

It has been over a year since I started tracking my garage’s electric versus non-electric use. A year ago I wrote about my hybrid garage: essentially a garage that contains some electric cars and some internal combustion engined (ICE) cars. You may be asking why, as a member of the rEVolution, do I still have ICE cars? Well, it’s because I’m not as good as those that have gone to an all-electric lifestyle. Hats off to them, but there are just times that I like to use my gasoline vehicles.

When it snows it is great to be able to use our thirteen year old BMW X5 to go up to the mountains around LA and play.  The X5 allows us do this even when there are restrictions in getting up the mountain when the snow is fresh. Additionally, when we need to buy or move large items, we’ll use this same workhorse.  Granted the Model S does have a lot of space, but I’m not one of those brave souls who carry cargo in their luxury car.

Dennis in his Tesla Roadster

Dennis in his Tesla Roadster

Prior to adding the Roadster to the garage, we kept the 328i convertible for those days where we wanted to drive around with the top down. We still have this car, we are just waiting for the start of summer to sell it. (Say, send me a note around May if you’re interested in buying a 2008 328i Convertible). Granted it is a lot easier to put the top up and down on the BMW than the Roadster, but this one fact won’t save it from probably being the next ICE sold from our garage.

Even though I own ICE cars, I understand the costs of my addiction to oil and gas and try to minimize it.

About a year ago I started tracking the number of miles my household drives in each type of car. I pitted ICE versus EV to see the real-world ratio of private transportation needs in terms of electric or ICE power. Since we travel a little bit, I decided to count the miles driven in rental cars to this spreadsheet too, as well as any miles added to the cars when we’ve lent them out to our friends and family.

Dennis also Added a Tesla Model S to his Hybrid Garage

Dennis also Added a Tesla Model S to his Hybrid Garage

The results were stupefying:  After 365 days of meticulously tracking the mileage consumed by my household for EV versus ICE use, the old 80:20 rule asserted itself within an accuracy of one hundredth of a percent.

We drove an electrically powered car 80.05% of the time and ICE powered car 19.95% of the time.

Notes on the data:

  • We had three EVs from November 2013 to March 2014. All other times we only had one EV (BMW ActiveE) which limited us to an 80 – 100 mile range.
  • The two new cars added were a Model S and a Roadster. These increased our EV usage as their range is at least double that of the ActiveE and we have ample access to really fast recharge rates with the Model S.
  • We had several week-long or greater visits from family and friends who we lent our vehicles to (Both ICE and EV).

It is interesting to note the increase of EV miles for the months in the latter part of the year when we had taken delivery of our two Teslas. This allowed my wife and me to drive electrically for our daily drive, whereas in the earlier part of the year we only had the Active E and one of the ICE vehicles ended up being the other car driven.  As a whole the household drove about 42,000 total miles.

Since I’m an EV Geek I’m wondering what the next year will bring since we’ve given up our Active E and are both driving Teslas that give us at least 170 miles of range on a full charge. I would hasten to guess that the percentage of EV use verse ICE use should dramatically increase, but another year will let us know.  In the meantime, bask in the mediocrity of the past year.

Dennis Pascual works as a strategic information systems executive who lives in the greater LA area and spends a large amount of his free time advocating for the use of electric vehicles. One of BMW’s many ActiveE Electronauts, he currently owns both a Tesla Model S and Tesla Roadster, and is contemplating which car will make a good electric replacement for the ActiveE he has recently had to give back to BMW. 


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