Lucas Davis “How Much Are Electric Vehicles Driven?” (November 2018) (Revised version published in Applied Economics Letters, 26(18), February 2019) | WP-296R | Blog Post


The prospect for electric vehicles as a climate change solution hinges on their ability to reduce gasoline consumption. But this depends on how many miles electric vehicles are driven and on how many miles would have otherwise been driven in gasoline-powered vehicles. Using newly-available U.S. nationally representative data, this paper finds that electric vehicles are driven considerably fewer miles per year on average than gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. The difference is highly statistically significant and holds for both all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, for both single- and multiple-vehicle households, and both inside and outside California. The paper discusses potential explanations and policy implications. Overall, the evidence suggests that electric vehicles imply smaller environmental benefits than previously believed.