Electric Vehicle Explorer: The Right Car for the Right Driver

More than 100,000 plug-in vehicles have been sold in the Unites States since 2010, about third in California. Over this time period many models entered the market with different battery sizes and electric ranges.  About half of the cars sold were battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and the other half were plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) with a smaller battery and an internal combustion engine that allows longer travel range.

This potentially large shift is important for planning agencies as well.  The benefits include local air quality, but also broader global and national goals such as energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  To help in this transition and as part of our CCSC project, UC Davis is building the “Electric Vehicle Explorer” that planning agencies will be free to use.

This tool will help inform citizens how a plug-in electric vehicle might fit into their life.  It answers two questions:  first, which vehicle is right for my travel needs? For example: Can I use a pure electric battery vehicle or do I need a plug in hybrid with longer range?  Second, how much I will save switching from gas to electric given my regular vehicle gas consumption, my driving needs and cost of charging the battery?

The tool allows the driver to simulate yearly driving by having them describe the frequency and type of travel in Google map based interface. Multiple destinations for a single tour can be defined as well as existing or potential charging options at stops.  In this way, a very tailored representation of travel and costs is possible.  This travel can include infrequent long trips which can often be a large part of travel affecting travel costs between vehicle models.  This tool promises to be an important resource for consumers to understand how they might use an electric vehicle and see if it is the right vehicle for them

This blog post was written by CCSC research partners Dr. Gil Tal and Dr. Michael Nicholas, post-doctoral scholars at the Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center at UC Davis