Records tumble for plug-in car sales

Current EVs could tackle majority of personal journeys


Electric vehicles are able replace nearly 90 per cent of cars currently on the road according to research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT. Current models have are able to meet the vast majority of driver’s needs says the American report.

The study asked ‘Could existing electric vehicles (EVs), despite their limited driving range, bring about a meaningful reduction in the greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing global climate change?’ The conclusion by MIT researchers is ‘Yes; they can.’

The study has found that EVs could replace conventional cars in the majority of applications, even considering the relatively limited range and accounting for basic charging factors.

“Roughly 90 percent of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today, even if the cars can only charge overnight, which would more than meet near-term U.S. climate targets for personal vehicle travel,” says paper author Jessika Trancik, the Atlantic Richfield Career Development Associate Professor in Energy Studies at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS).

The study concludes that, even taking in the increased electricity requirements should around 90 per cent or car be replaced by EVs, a 30 per cent cut in emissions would be instantly possible. That figure will increase over coming years as increasing numbers of power stations are replaced or decarbonised.

The study was carried out over four years by a team of researchers and looked at both highly detailed second-by-second GPS driving behavior data, and broader though more comprehensive America-wide travel survey information.

Although many industry analysts cite examples of a lack of EV charging infrastructure available and longer time required to charge as reasons against wholesale EV uptake, the study has concluded that this isn’t an issue for much of the time.

The vast majority of cars consume less energy in a day than the battery capacity of a typical EV. The report therefore uses a single daily charge, completed overnight, as being possible for EVs to operate in the way required.

The report does include realistic issues against the wholesale uptake of EVs, such as those times when longer trips than average are required – holidays for example – or weather conditions limit range.

It states that to cover 100 per cent of drivers needs, a conventionally powered second car could be operated, vehicles could be rented occasionally, or a car sharing club could be joined. The report also considers that, despite increases in battery range coming along in future, there will still be a small number of ‘high-energy’ days in which a different power source will be required.

It must be said that the report is based on driving characteristics from US drivers – though considering the larger scale of the country, it is likely the same findings would be relevant in the UK and Europe.

You can read the report in greater depth from the MIT website.