The Part-Time Electric Car

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Electric cars can’t go very far – which is probably why they aren’t being driven very far. Only about 5,300 miles per year, on average, according to a study just released by the University of California, Davis, Berkeley and University of Chicago.

That’s less than half as far as most people drive their not-electric cars – which is about 13,500 miles per year.

Probably because they can.

It’s easy to drive across the country – on the spur of the moment – in a non-electric car because you don’t have to stop every couple of hours for a couple of hours. Or more.

Or plan your trip around your range.

A non-electric car can cover 500 miles at 70 MPH in about eight hours, including a 15 minute stop to refuel and take a bathroom break. If you left in the morning, you’d be there before supper.

The same trip in a Tesla 3 requires at least two stops – because the car’s range on a full charge is only 263 miles – and each stop to recharge will cost you at least 30-45 minutes of waiting, assuming you don’t have to wait for someone else to finish waiting 30-45 minutes to recharge their EV before it’s your turn at the plug.

This assumes you can find the plug.

“Fast” chargers, as they are styled – in finger quotes to highlight the etymological silliness of referring to a 30-45 minute wait as “fast” when you can refuel in less then 5 minutes – are not everywhere and won’t be as common as gas stations are for years to come, if ever. The cost – and technical challenges – are both enormous.

Most of the “fast” charging stations that do exist are located along major highways or in a few urban areas where EVs are (relatively) popular, such as Los Angeles.

If one isn’t where you are – or are headed – you’ll have to settle for an overnight charge, which is what it takes to instill current in an EV battery without a “fast” charger.

Even if you do find the “fast” charger, it’ll be awhile before you can get going again. And you won’t get as far once you do get going again, because you can’t fully recharge at a “fast” charger without risking a fire or damage to the very expensive battery. This is why a “fast” charge is actually a partial charge – to about half or so the full potential and so half or so the fully-charged (and advertised) range – but this diminution of range isn’t mentioned much for the obvious reason that’s akin to owning a car with an air conditioner or heater that only works for half the trip.

No wonder EVs don’t get driven very far – or very much.

Probably because they don’t have to be.

The typical EV owner also owns a not-electric car – precisely because of the electric car’s functional gimps. One that can make a 500 mile trip in eight hours or less and which doesn’t require planning one’s trip around its limitations.

The electric car is thus a part-time car – and also a duplicative car. Two are needed to handle the job that one non-electric car could, doubling the physical and possibly also the carbon footprint – which has to include all the “carbon” generated during the entire manufacturing process of both cars, the EV included  . . . if the discussion about “lowering carbon emissions” isn’t just disingenuous virtue-signaling claptrap.

Owning two cars is not a financial problem for the typical EV owner – who is affluent by default. Who else can afford to spend the $40,000 to start it takes to buy an EV like the Tesla 3? And who can afford to pay for two insurance policies as well as all the various taxes and fees all car owners have to pay, twice.

This is something many not-affluent people cannot afford.

For them, a $40,000 electric car is an impossible car – leaving aside the functional gimps.

But let’s set aside the affordability issue for a moment and consider the fundamental issue with electric cars: The mobility issue. They assure less of it, even if you are among the few who can afford it.

This study confirms it.

Spur-of-the-moment road trips become two-day trips and so aren’t taken – in the EV, at least. This is a reversion of mobility akin to replacing a modern commercial jet that can fly from JFK to LAX in a few hours, nonstop, with a prop job that has to stop every 500 miles for gas. Having to stop for hours each way also puts the kibosh on three-day weekend sorties to Disneyland – unless you can afford to take a week off.

Most people can’t.

The vagaries of commuting entails more than concern over how long it takes to get home when you might not make it home. Most EV owners are city or suburban people and so for them the EV’s limitations, like its cost, aren’t a concern. They don’t generally live very far from the office, so getting to the office – and back again – is easy.

But it is very much a concern for people who do not live in the city – and prefer to live as far as they can from the suburbs.

Which they have been able to do up to now because of the gasoline (and diesel) powered car, which has enabled them to affordably and comfortably get there – and back.

Not anymore.

Not if they can’t afford a second car in addition to the EV, as the affluent can. And since they can’t afford the one EV, they’ll just have to reorient their lives around driving less – which is what this study is really saying, without saying so openly.

Study co-author Fiona Burlig, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, says: “The takeaway here is not that EVs should never or will never be our future . . . It’s rather that policymakers may be underestimating the costs of going fully electric.”

What if “policymakers” have estimated them exactly?

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos. 

We depend on you to keep the wheels turning! 

Our donate button is here.

 If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:

721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)

My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.  If that fails, email me at and I will send you a copy directly!


    • Hi Roland,

      Isn’t it amazing? That anyone – outside of a lunatic asylum – buys into this? Imagine being told you’d need to wait eight hours to get gasoline. How would that fly?

  1. Or buy a Volt, Prius or other hybrid. Heck, if I were shopping I’d be taking a serious look at that new Ford pickup with the 30A power plugs in the back. Sure, it’s more complex but so is owning two vehicles, one of which includes range anxiety as standard equipment.

    Oh but you won’t get the credits, since they still emit “pollution.” GM won’t get the credits either, so the Volt has to go.

    Seems to me a hybrid gets you closer than all or nothing. The Fabian Socialists used a turtle for their mascot because they knew that full-on violent revolution communism was going to have a lot of collateral decapitations, so why not take it slow and steady instead? A lesson lost on today’s climate communist.

      • A hybrid powertrain is going to be a whole lot more reliable than a turbo-charged low-displacement engine coupled to a CVT, the latter being essentially disposable.

        Toyota’s hybrid option for the RAV4 costs all of $800 more (MSRP) versus gasoline-only at all trim levels where the hybrid is available…plus the smoother ride with the hybrid (reviewers prefer) & ~50% better mpg.

  2. Well. I’m not worried about that!

    [h]Uman Stupidity will find an Intelligent way to figure out that small problem.

    We’ll do whatever it takes (in reality it is whatever the Owners want and desire) to make the ECar the “Future” we all desire. Green and with an annoying buzz!

    This includes destroying entire Ecosystems if we find out that in those Ecosystems there are the minerals (rare and non-rare) we need to manufacture bigger and better batteries, and also build bigger and lighter cars (that will cost more, but we will gladly pay more for a GREENER FUTURE!) because we can’t downsize batteries after a certain point… All of this just to offset the local road emissions of CO2 to some distant place far away from our eyes!

    And we also need to be lucky in terms of Weather… To COLD (like in Texas right now) and bye bye battery efficiency…

    So don’t worry too much… The most intelligent modern slaves are working really hard to make our future non-proprietary* cars awesome!

    *In the Future “You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy” WEF message to us, modern slaves!

  3. Consider this comment under a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune. It is in response to another comment that was critical of climate-change hysteria. The original commenter had questioned the “science” of CC and demanded specific data and sources:

    “Umm. . . . I don’t know, I also don’t care. The physical evidence, melting ice caps, mean global temp rise, on and on say we have a serious problem. Those who actually know what they are talking about say we have a serious problem and have recommended solutions. They will be painful, you won’t like them, but you will be ignored.”

    Believe the experts. Parrot their vague predictions. Trust the state. Don’t think too much. Shut up and obey. This is how most people in the USSA think now. You will know them by their masks.

    • Yes, yes. Two weeks to “flatten the curve”. Well, here we are 47–give or take–weeks later.

      It’s no coincidence that it’s Center for Disease CONTROL. Indeed, they control everything about it. Masks are only a symbol of their dominion and priesthood power.

      • Indeed, the CDC, while deep in the pocket of Pharma, seeks control at all costs. Pharma has long ago discarded any reference to the Hippocratic Oath. If they discover a cure for anything, they will bury it. No money in a cure, unlike perpetual illness.

  4. There was a Ford Transit that the Tesla service tech from Salt Lake City, Utah had at a gas station in Rexburg Idaho today. It’s a 220 mile trip.

    Why don’t Tesla Tech’s drive……a Tesla?

  5. It’s -1 degrees here today. I don’t know anyone with a Tesla, but I’d love to ask a Tesla owner how well it’s working out for them. As for me, my 2011 4WD Honda Pilot is doing fine.

      • Not exactly. But the colder it gets outside, the less range you get. And the dropoff is substantial. Turning on the (electric) heater sucks even more range.

        How Norway figures it’s going to get by with this is beyond me.

        • Hi Publius,

          Regarding: “How Norway figures it’s going to get by with this is beyond me.”

          The whole point of this is precisely to reduce/control mobility. There is no other rational explanation to account for the aggressive push in the face of the well-known problems. These people aren’t stupid.

          They’re evil.

          • Eric,

            They may be evil, but they are also stupid. When the elites are surrounded by a ravenous mob, no one will be coming to their rescue. And they are busy accelerating the pace at which people are made so desperate this will happen.

            It’s only a matter of time, and they are running themselves out of it.

    • Actually, as I was headed southbound on I29 between Grand Forks and Fargo ND with an ambient temp of -22, I was passed by a Tesla doing about 80. I have to say I was impressed- but I assume he was going no further than the 75 miles to Fargo.

      EV’s could actually be a good thing- get rid of the smog checks and BS like that, and they would work out OK for city dwellers, especially in mild climates. This should free up gas and diesel and make it cheaper for those of us way outside that. But the commie zealots think their reality is the only reality and want to force their square peg up our round hole.

      • EVs won’t be a “good thing” as long as their entire market is completely created and supported by holding a gun to people’s heads and stealing their stuff, AKA taxes, and other gubmint agencies holding a gun to our heads and keeping us from participating in a real market, for ICVs. Without the subsidies and “regulations”, AKA opinions of bureaucrats disguised as law, there would not be a market for EVs big enough to justify mass production. They would still be custom cars, possibly built by hand, for the tiny market consisting of wealthy virtue signalers. A “good” thing is rare, if it exists at all, if it’s the product of our Psychopaths In Charge.

      • Hi Ernie,

        Teslas are very quick, no question. Last year, I raced a Tesla S while driving a Mustang GT Bullitt and just barely edged out the Tesla. But who gets back on the road quicker? In this race, the Tesla is slower than a Yugo with one dead cylinder. I could run the Mustang all out all day and still only spend 5 minutes refueling.

  6. Eric,

    I’ve gone back and forth with a couple of Tesla owners on Twitter, and they say that the battery degradation isn’t that bad; Tesla Taxis of America, which has some of the highest mileage Teslas around, says that the most range they’ve lost is 20 miles after 150K on the clock. Also, Teslas have a heat pump for the battery, so you don’t lose range on cold days anymore.

    • Hi Mark,

      My almost 20 year-old truck hasn’t lost any range at all! Also, use of heat – for the passengers/cabin – will draw power, which will reduce range…

    • MM “Also, Teslas have a heat pump for the battery, so you don’t lose range on cold days anymore.”

      I would be interested in a more derailed explanation of how that could be true as stated.

      Free heat? From where? The batteries?

    • Would you be eager to denigrate a product you spent $10K extra to acquire with fewer convenience attributes, and more problems? Most wouldn’t, since it sort of makes them look stupid. The one and only unquestioned attribute of EVs is they don’t pollute in their immediate vicinity, unless they catch fire. Whether they do or not in general is up in the air.

  7. Most electric cars are someones third or fourth car most likely. The study shows that even the true believers don’t drive them much due to the impracticality of them. Also those first and second cars are BMW, Mercedes, Lexus even Caddy etc which are still way nicer cars than a Tesla.

  8. Best way to solve this problem is to put a trailer hitch on the back and pull a gas or diesel powered generator that you keep wired to your “green” electonic virtue signal mobile and just charge as you drive. They hypocrisy would be lost on the ptb and the rest of the green virtue signaling leftists but it would make for a great image for us that understand this stuff.

    • I have been saying for years that the simple fix for range anxiety is a bumper hitch load tray with a generator on it.

      Or, crazy idea, could just have a car that runs on easily obtainable, high energy liquids.

      • I go with choice 2. But resident biden and his cabal of virtue signalling green energy wack jobs want to take that choice away from us and the business end of multiple firearms that incidentally they want to take away from us as well.

      • Perhaps they can sell an “emergency recharger” with each new unit. With a convenient bolt-on kit.

        The bolt holes on the recharge unit might be in a pattern suspiciously similar to the pattern on the electric motor. You know, to save on tooling costs.

        I’d like to upgrade my recharge unit to the V8 model, please.

    • I would assume EVs are exempt from emissions testing so there might be a market for simple ICE conversions. The low value of an EV with a dead battery and the engine swap would surely be less than a new electric car. Maybe less than battery replacement. No doubt this will be illegalized by the human farmers though.

  9. Warmunist brain damage:

    A Glimpse of the Future in Texas: Climate Change Means Trouble for Power Grids

    Systems are designed to handle spikes in demand, but the wild and unpredictable weather linked to global warming will very likely push grids beyond their limits.

    — NYT headlines, 16 Feb 2021

    War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Global Warming is Freezing in the Dark.

    Have you hugged your EV today?

      • I didn’t go to your link, since I don’t need to. Weather has always been “unpredictable” because a LOT of things influence it a LOT. Snow and ice amounts, for example, can radically increase with a somewhat minor increase in actual moister precipitated. I’ve been around for 67 years, and the temperatures currently being called “extremely unusual” aren’t. It’s common here in Missouri for winter temperatures to go below zero. Not every winter, but often. I think it was Christmas Eve 1980 when the thermometer outside my house, which was admittedly in a low lying area, showed -30 degrees. Up the hill to my neighbors, theirs read -20 degrees. THAT was unusual.

        • I remember that. I was living in South Carolina at the time and had driven my Rabbit diesel home for Christmas. It was windy and so cold that even with the block heater plugged in all day, it wouldn’t start.

    • Report from SE Texas.

      We were out 2 1/2 days, no juice with temps ~12 deg F to 32 deg F, here southeast of downtown Houston. Water went out this morning, slowly coming back up to pressure today. Internet went down both AT&T cell and Comcast cable all day today.

      ERCOT has proven the folly of absentee and envirofascist leadership (the board is mostly from out of state, and “green”), and of decoupling generation from transmission, distribution, and retail/wholesale sales. Abbot has no future in this state, same with any Texas policitican idiot who had any hand in this debacle. They turned the world’s most stable power grid into Rwanda in 10 years, in the energy capital of the world. There will be hell to pay. Texans will not forget. This is the new Alamo.

      • Hi Crusty,

        I was talking with Bill Meyer over at KMED about this yesterday; about the “teaching moment” this provides Woke people who may not enjoy being cold people.

        • Morning Eric.

          The woke types will not learn. They will blame evil capitalists, and evil ERCOT, never questioning the wisdom of either “green” subsidies or the Texas state gubmint who run the PUCT and ERCOT. KHOU, KTRK, KPRC, KRIV will bay for the hides of Texas Genco, Tenaska Gateway, etc. executives, and ERCOT executives. They will bay for Gov Abbott’s hide only because he is not a D, but they should be baying for his removal due to woke greeness in his PUCT, not because he’s got an R behind his name.

          You get what you subsidize.

          Reliability has not been subsidized in the ERCOT area for at least the last 10 years. Oil and coal plants being decommissioned (two plants in the last 10 years within 10 miles of me, for one!), no new units being added to South Texas Nuclear or Comanche Peak, lignite mines closing…and ~50 GW of windmills in West Texas. No incentives to winterize existing thermal plants. BIG incentives to build “green”. This is part of what got us here. Lack of generating plants and lack of fuel diversity.

          This was not a transmission or distribution line outage event, by and large. You’d expect to lose lines in an ice storm. It’s very hard to economically ice-proof long lines, especially distribution lines going through the forest. But not this time.

          It was generation going offline, mostly due to bad protection of the big iron plants from the weather. The ~40 GW of wind that froze and went offline did not help, of course.

          The eletes in Austin and Davos shot Texas in the foot via the proxy of ERCOT and the generating plant owning LLC’s. Hurricanes Alicia, Ike, and Harvey did not cause my area to lose power, over the last 38 years. ERCOT and the PUCT did. They’d better remember Texas has both the Alamo and San Jacinto, and Texans never forget.

          • Oh, and electric cars in all this? HAH! Funny one, that! Imagine adding another maybe 50 GW (pulling a figure out of my rear end) of load on the grid mainly around Austin, Houston, SA, DFW in this recent unpleasantness. Everyone was using the liquid energy stored in the gaas or Diesel tank to run the engine, to warm up a bit, and to CHARGE CELLPHONES and other devices. How’s that for “green”!

            One more observation. I read that the generating plants had to get “permission” from the EPA to exceed “pollution” limits to ramp up to max output for this event…AFTER the event started. Your EPA looking out for your best interest!

  10. Overnight charge IF there is power.

    Interesting that the downtown seems to have all the power it needs but the little people get none.

    People who have no power to heat their homes are living in their cars to stay warm. Well, the people with ICE cars are. The EV people? How long does a Tesla make heat on a full charge?

    At least with gas you can store a bunch for when the masters decide ‘no electricity for you’.

    And Americans point at Venezuala as a failed state…… Just wait.

    • Anonymous,

      Last week removing snow and ice from my cars i wondered how this would work with ev’s. I mean normally i turn the cars on and let the heat from the engine do some of rhe work before i clear them off. How exactly would an ev with no engine to heat up the car to remove snow and ice? I thought the batteries that ev’s use, the one thing that actuall gets warm on an electric car were under the passenger compartment. If that is the case there would be nothing in the hood of the car to warm up and make the snow and ice melt.

      Also, i saw the video of people in their gas powered cars in dallas staying warm by sleeping in their cars overnight. Exactly how would that work in an ev when the power is out? You drain your batteries with no way to recharge them and you are a sitting duck during an emergency. At least with my cars i can have spare gas cans laying around with spare fuel. Noone can have spare ev batteries sitting around so what do you do?. Hell during hurricane sandy when my power was out for 12 days i turned one of my cars into a driving gas can. Drove all the way to Allentown pa to fuel up the cans and my car then drove back to my town 30 miles from the pa border in nj. I lived 12 days on generator power that ran the cable, wifi lights, fridge and heat pump for my gas furnace and i have a wood burning fireplace to help keep the heat up. Most people in my area that weren’t prepared were miserable over that 12 day period. My family was comfortable. I also keep enough gas on hand to keep the generator operating for at least a week.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here