Here's How to do a Virtual Electric Car Test-Drive!

car trip computer photo

Photo: Flickr, CC
Find Out if Range Would be a Problem for You
The biggest concern that most people have about electric cars - apart maybe from their cost - is range; "will this car drive far enough between charges to meet my needs?". This is less of a problem for plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt, but there are benefits to going 100% electric and not having to lug around a gasoline engine. So how does the virtual test-drive work?It's very simple, really. You just have to use your car's trip computer. Every time your car is parked long enough in a spot where it could be recharged if it was electric, you note the number on a piece of paper along with the date and you reset the trip computer to zero.

After a while, it should give you a good idea of how often you would need a longer range than what current electric cars offer. So for example, if after a month you realize that on most days you drive less than 20 miles, and your longest trips between "charges" are 50 miles, a car like the Nissan LEAF might work perfectly for you (the LEAF has a range of 100 miles).

If your average is higher but still often below 40 miles, a 'range extended' plug-in hybrid might be better for you: You wouldn't burn gas on most days, but when you need it, the car can switch the gas engine on and take you on longer trips.

Or maybe this exercise will make you realize that every time you drive more than 100 miles between "charges" is during a trip on the weekend when the whole family gets in the car. This could mean that an electric car fits your needs as long as you have a second vehicle with a longer range.

Real-World Data
This exercise should give you better data than if you just sit down and try to think about your car usage. What matters is not just how much you drive in a week or month, but how many times you drive long distances without having an occasion to recharge.

For more electric car stuff, check out Planet Green's special EV feature, the Electric Car topic page on TreeHugger, and Planet Green's EV View & Vote!

More on Electric Cars
Jaguar Unveils the C-X75 PHEV Supercar (With 4 Electric Motors and 2 Gas Micro-turbines)
Lance Armstrong Tweets About His New Nissan LEAF
Peugeot to Lease iOn Electric Car for €499/Month in France
Life Cycle Analysis of Electric Car Shows Battery Has Only Minor Impact
Lithium-Ion Battery Oversupply to Drive Prices Down Around 20%
Better Place is Testing Battery-Swapping in Tokyo
Is the Electrification of Transportation a Good Thing? (Part 2)

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