We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
A JRC report analysed driving patterns of both conventional and electric vehicles in the EU. Findings show that most of them (more than 80%) drive less than 65 km per day. This means daily driving needs can be also satisfied with electric cars, therefore challenging the common concerns about the duration of a single charge. The results are an important building block for analysing infrastructure requirements for electric vehicles and assessing their potential contribution to EU’s energy, transport, and climate policy objectives.
Data from vehicles suggest three approximate daily driving patterns. These patterns differ by the number of trips per day, average trip duration, time a trip or parking starts. These patterns correspond to weekday, Saturday and Sunday driving, the latter two being rather similar. Travelling to and back from work was found to account for most of the journey made and of the time spent on the road. Comparison with data from the Green eMotion project, the largest EU-wide electric vehicle field test, shows that drivers using electric cars travel slightly shorter distances and make trips with a shorter duration. The median electricity consumption is around 186 Wh/km for the smaller battery electric car size segment. This is only half of the energy that a conventional car of similar size consumes. And for electric cars this energy can be supplied by low carbon electricity, as such cars can take full benefit of the CO₂ reductions triggered by the EU emissions trading system (ETS). The ETS foresees allowances that can be traded as needed.
However, the report reveals a gap between the electricity consumption measured in the test cycle and during real-life driving. This gap can be partially explained by the fact that the energy consumption of ancillary systems (for example heating or air-conditioning) is typically not measured in the test cycle. Further results show that the electricity consumption of battery electric vehicles is strongly dependent on the ambient temperature. The median winter energy consumption per kilometre was higher than the median summer consumption by approximately 40%.
The authors argue that harmonised data collection in field tests could increase the quality of the data and its usefulness for future projects. They recommend the creation of a permanent repository to store mobility data, recognising that there are personal data protection issues associated with such data that need to be treated appropriately.