How far would you drive on average?

So I recently did a poll on the Zip Ties. Community Facebook Group, a group of over 170,000 Car enthusiasts to try and get a feel for how far people would drive in a single hit without stopping, be that for a pee, fuel, food, stretch legs, etc. While I’m here I highly recommend that you join that group, heaps of car people, heaps of car photos, car talk, car discussion, and loads of shit talking and shitposting.

Why Zip Ties? Well, these people are at their very core, car guys. They love to get in the car and hoof it down the highway, nothing more than man, machine, and open road. The exact people you would think would love to spend good time in their cars, and so if anyone is going to drive a long way, it’s probably going to be people that love spending time in their cars.

So I thought that if you want a representation of people that are going to be in their cars, going for a long drive, these people will be outliers in the community, and it made me think “Could an electric car do the distance that people that love to drive, that drive for the sake of driving?”, and the results of the “How far will you drive between stops” gave us some very interesting data, data that could show that an electric car could be suitable for non-car people. People that do drive to work and back and don’t go out and drive for the sake of it.

The Data

So I called it at 1,000 responses to the poll, a nice round number and easy to do some maths with:

So this gives us a good bunch of data, and immediately you can see 3 distinct groups:

  1. The biggest single chunk/spike- clearly these are the people that will drive for 4 hours or less, this makes up a significant portion of what I would call the “Everyday drivers”
  2. The Interim distance people, these people will drive up to 8 hours between stops, which is impressive
  3. The long haulers, these are your people that will drive absolutely massive stints between stops. Likely, well, almost certainly these people have custom modified their cars to do this type of trip, as I cannot find a car that would last the 12 or more hours off the showroom floor, and I will explain why in a moment.

So from the poll above, you can see that there is a red line going down, this is your mean line, and it means that under that line there are less and less people wanting to drive for that amount of time.

Edit: Turns out when you turn off commenting on a poll on Facebook, it continues running the poll, please head to the end of the article to see the updated numbers.

I’ll just get this out now….

If you drive more than 4 hours in a single stint, there is is no off-the shelf Electric Vehicle that would suit your driving style if you want to drive that kind of distance. I do not see you being converted, you have are a Blues Brothers Driver, you are on a Mission from God, and that’s totally up to you. I respect that and electric cars are not for you. We cool?

However, if you sit at the 4 Hours and under mark, then an electric car may suit you. Please, read on.

The Distance

Anyway, according to the Australian Automobile Association, the average speed driven in Australia is 59.6kmh, you can read about it in this oh so fascinating document they did on Road Congestion in Australia.

However, we are talking long drives, and you don’t do those in cities, so we also factor in the average freeway speed in Australia that is in most states, 110kmh, and we’ll be using these numbers for our trips, which gives us:

TimeAverage Distance Travelled in Kilometres
1 Hour84.8
2 Hours169.6
3 Hours254.4
4 Hours339.2
5 Hours424
6 Hours508.8
7 Hours593.6
8 Hours678.4
9 Hours763.2
10 Hours848
11 Hours932.8
12 Hours1017.6

So that gives us your average distances that people will travel, which works out to be around the 84.8 kmh speed for mixed Freeway and Average Australian Speed Driving, which when you factor in traffic, Roadworks, etc seems like a pretty good average.

Looking at our largest group, those that will drive for 4 hours, we find that the average person in Australia is willing to drive a distance around the 300-350km range before stopping, be this for a pee, food, stretch the legs, or refuel.

Keeping in mind that this kind of fits in with what a car guy would do, and is a bit beyond what most motoring authorities say is the distance that you should drive on a long journey, which is said to be around the 8 hours a day mark total, with a rest break every 2 hours. You can read more at https://rac.com.au/car-motoring/info/long-distance-driving-safety-tips

The cars

So anyway, what off the shelf cars could you buy, right now (or very very shortly), that have an electric range of 300-350km? I’m also allowing for a little bit of leeway on the lower side, so if a car scrapes in just under the 300km, I’ll put it in the list, as the 2 hour safe recommendation from motoring associations would allow some of these cars.

CarRange in kilometres
Audi eTron400
Audi eTron Sportback347-446
BMW i3285-310
Hyundai Ioniq311
Hyundai Kona449
Jaguar iPace470
Mercedes-Benz EQC414
Polestar 2500
Porsche Taycan388-412
Tesla Model 3409-560
Tesla Model S593-610
Tesla Model X487-507

So from the data above, and the data from the poll, which albeit was a smaller poll, we can roughly assume that from what the majority of car guys say they will drive, those that will just go out and hit the road for fun, not hitting the road with intent to go a long way and make the Australian Cannonball Indian to Pacific run, we do have options in Australia at the moment that would drive an average kind of distance between stops.

The chargers though?

Well from the dataset gleaned above, and from taking information from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, who do a lot of data on fatigue management, the average is around 15-30 minutes for a decent rest stop. So, doing some extrapolation, the average car uses around 240Wh/kilometre (Data calculated using the information from ev-propulsion.com)

So this would mean that on your average trip of 339.2km you would such through around 81,408Wh or 81.41kWh (Simply put, a kWh is just 1,000Wh, the k stands for 1,000, kind of like you don’t measure your car in Watts, or w, you measure it in kW, which stands for Killer Wasps…I mean, kiloWatts or kW) of charge, so to charge in 30 minutes, you would need a charger rated to around 162.82kW, these don’t exist, so the closest you would find is a 150kW DC Fast Charger, which would have you refilled and ready to go in around the 32.4 minute mark so close enough really, that’s assuming the car you have picked does not ramp off your charging and has appropriate thermal management.

So let’s visit that 2 hour mark, if you were to be a good little boy or girl, and you stopped around the 2-3 hour mark, that means that you will have travelled around 169.6-254.4km, which would put your usage around the 40.7-61.1kWh mark

Now we always see it that a lot of people say “But we never see the chargers!”, well, the average small mid-range charger, a 22kW charger that would would use if you stopped for a couple of hours of sightseeing would generally look like this:

EO Universal 22kW Charger Image from EVolution Australia

And your big 150kW DC Fast Chargers can be just as innocuous looking like:

Ok yeah, I get it, that looks like a fuel bowser, however, you may not actually be LOOKING for one, as these can be stuck damn near anywhere, if there’s electricity, there’s a place you can shove an electric vehicle charger.

So your 4 most common sized chargers are 7kW Home, 22kW Residential/Commercial, 50kW Fast, and 150kW Fast. So let’s look at our Charge Times:

Driving TimeCharging Time 7kWCharging Time 22kWCharging Time 50kWCharging Time 150kW
2 Hours5.81 Hours1.85 Hours48.6 Minutes16.2 Minutes
3 Hours8.72 Hours2.78 Hours1.22 Hours24.6 Minutes
4 Hours11.63 Hours3.7 Hours1.63 Hours32.4 Minutes

So really, when you think about it, if you take the average 15 minute break every 2 hours, or a 30 minute break every 4 hours, an electric car may actually work for you. Especially if you are one of these people that isn’t just driving the 4 hours, your journey may be from Canberra to Brisbane, so a 30 minute stop every 4 hours is a good rest break over such a long drive.

But performance?

Ok, so I hear a lot of people talk about performance of electric cars, and I think they have either driven a pretty piss poor example of an electric car (Like a Prius, which if you really hoof the boot in, it’s probably running off it’s petrol motor, the pathetic little asthmatic 90kW petrol engine, and it isn’t an electric, it’s a Hybrid) or something like the Nissan Leaf which has a whopping 80kW at the wheels! Yeah! Paul Walker would be rolling in his grave if you called a Leaf a performance car. Seriously, don’t.

Actual decent electric cars, like the Tesla Model 3 put out 211kW in the Base model, which is pretty respectable when you consider that a staple of Zip Ties is Commodores and Falcons, where the Barra motor puts out at best stock 198kW (Oh yes, I went there, I compared it to the Holy Barra) and the 3.6l LFX Motor in the Commodore puts out 210kW which is about on par.

Oh, but did I mention the power and torque curves of an electric motor? Here is the power band of a Tesla Model 3 SR+ at variuous states of charge:

Credit: Mountain Pass Performance

You’ll notice that although the power ramps up a over time like you would traditionally expect, the torque comes on instantly, you get over 270Nm of torque from the get go, as opposed to a Barra which looks more like this, where the green lines are a stock Barra Motor:

Credit: Independent Motorsports

So you can see, an electric car has all of that torque from the get go, and as my mate Dan says:

Oversteer is where the back of your car hits the wall;
Understeer is where the front of the car hits the wall;
Horsepower is how fast you are going when you hit the wall;
Torque is how far you take the wall after you hit it

Dan

Or in reality, you can do cool shit like this:

On demand torque means that you can rip the tyres to shreds easily, which is what we all know the car guys out there want to do. In fact, we all know that Australians love to do ripper burnouts….as evidenced here:

Wait, you missed the bit where I can charge

Oh, yeah, I missed that bit. My bad.

For checking what chargers are around you now, we suggest PlugShare, for planning a trip, we suggest A Better Route Planner:

You said the poll kept running?

Yes, yes it did. 24 hours later, the poll numbers look like this. A few more 6 hour drivers, however still a massive amount of people falling off at 4 hours.

Final thoughts

The other thing we know a lot of people do is not drive long distances ALL the time, so how great would it be to never have to worry about range again? We know that would be pretty sweet. So for times such as that, you can always plug in at home.

I know I personally do 60km a day, and that would use around the 14.4kWh a day, so a home charger would get me charged in around the 2.5 hour mark, and considering I sleep around 8 hours a night, I can plug my car in when I get home like my phone when I go to bed, and I’ll always wake up with a full battery.

At 14.4kW this means that on my current bill I’m averaging around the $0.15/kWh which means my daily cost is $2.16 for a weekly bill of around $10.80 or fortnightly $21.60 which means yearly if I don’t do any long trips I will spend $561.60, and then there is always the option of me heading down to the shops every couple of days and using their free chargers there for a couple of hours while I do my shop, see a movie, etc.

Something like a Tesla model 3 would only need to be charged with my driving every 4 days, so if I do a shop once a week, I have to charge once a week. So really, if I was smart about it, I can reduce my average weekly cost down to $0 in fuel. Plus with acceleration of 0-100 in 4.4 seconds, I’ll beat most cars off at the lights.

Just some food for thought.

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