Plug-in vehicles—those that run entirely on battery power or that combine electric and gasoline drives—represent less than 1% of total U.S. vehicle sales, but in the past three years their numbers have grown rapidly. Sales nearly tripled in 2012 and are on track to nearly double this year, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, a trade group.
Since 2009, the EV Project—financed with grants from the U.S. Energy Department and operated by Ecotality Inc., ECTY-10.22% a maker of electric charging stations—has been collecting and analyzing data from more than 8,000 drivers of electric vehicles.
Among the findings: Owners of electric cars drive less, possibly because they are using electric vehicles primarily for short trips, to work or the grocery. Or it may be that they fear running out of juice. A separate survey found that limited range caused many EV owners to avoid longer or discretionary trips—to the movie theater or to visit friends, for instance.
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