New study reveals charging habits of electric car owners

A division of Recargo, Inc, called PlugInsights, has issued its very first study on the attitudes and opinions of EV owners in the US.

That survey, called the “2013 U.S. PEV Charging Study,” drew on interviews with 3,700 electric car owners to better understand their habits, needs and desires when it comes to electric vehicle charging. (Read our guide on electric car charging).

Those 3,700 American drivers represent more than 2 percent of the EV owners on the road today, making this the “most comprehensive look at the topic,” according to PlugInsight.

“We’re strong believers in the future of electric vehicles,” said Brian Kariger, CEO of Recargo. “PlugInsights is all about growing the industry by identifying the barriers to broad EV adoption. It’s a way to help automakers, utilities, charging networks, government agencies and the broader EV community make better decisions. That’s our mission, and that’s exactly what our first study does.”

There are five primary discoveries gleaned from the study, all of which point back to the fact there aren’t enough public charging options, and the options that exist are too expensive.

1. There aren’t enough fast chargers

For drivers who need to run several errands or traverse long distances, Level 2 chargers just don’t cut it. They’re too slow and most drivers don’t have enough time to wait several hours for their cars to replenish their charges. Cars with mid-range capacity, like the Nissan LEAF, become commuter cars that are left in a garage for several hours at a time. That also limits the market interest in those mid-range cars.

2. No one wants to use pay stations

Mostly as an addendum to the last theme, drivers don’t feel that Level 2 chargers merit a fee. That’s primarily due to the fact that they’re considered slow and inefficient, which makes the driver feel as if they’re paying for an inconvenience, rather than a service.

3. There’s a line at public stations

This is something our team here at has encountered. When we’ve arrived at a coffee shop with a charging station, there have been multiple cars waiting for a single charging station. That’s a problem facing many drivers, according to PlugInsight, any in some cases those locations don’t even have fully-functional equipment.

4. It costs too much to install a charger at home

Many state and local governments offer incentives for homeowners who install home charging units, but that doesn’t cover every driver across the country. Many EV owners have complained that the expense of installing home chargers is “much higher” than anticipated, diminishing some of their perceived perks of owning an electric vehicle.

5. Low-cost electricity is a factor

In several states, power companies offer decreased electricity costs for EV owners who are willing to charge their cars during “off-peak hours.” Those hours are frequently late at night, which work well for folks with home chargers, but against those who try to catch a charge at work.

If you’re an EV owner let us know what annoys you when it comes to charging up.