Next steps: Get the word out, add charging stations
NRCM News Release
Today the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) released the results of its second comprehensive survey of Maine’s registered electric car owners. The survey was mailed to every electric car owner in Maine –1,300 of them – an impressive 33% of them responded.
There are more than twice as many electric cars on Maine roads now as in the fall of 2014, when the previous survey was conducted. Electric car owners in Maine live throughout the state and universally recommend their cars because they are saving money on gas, reducing pollution and, most of all they say, because the cars are fun to drive.
“More Mainers are choosing electric cars as an increasing number of them are available to meet the needs of Maine drivers,” said Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Clean Energy Director. “The survey shows that Mainers who drive electric are enthusiastic about their cars and their driving experience. Electric car drivers are pumped, and the more people hear about that, the more Mainers will want to drive electric. It’s great to see Maine drivers embracing the technology.”
Cars and trucks are the leading source of climate-disrupting carbon pollution in Maine and the region. When it comes to climate pollution, driving a car that uses electricity from the Maine grid is equivalent to driving a gasoline-powered car that gets nearly 110 miles per gallon, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Driving an electric car is a clear winner for our environment,” said Voorhees. “And as our electricity mix gets cleaner, as we increase wind and solar, electric cars are even better. We’ll need more electric cars in the coming decades to meet our carbon pollution goals and head off catastrophic climate disruption. That’s why the state needs to do more to support it.”
Mainers can test drive several models of electric cars at fun, free events across Maine in September. NRCM is co-sponsoring events in South Paris, Saturday, September 15, and South Portland, Sunday, September 16, and promoting a third at L.L. Bean in Freeport on Friday, September 14. Experienced electric car owners will be present to show off their cars and talk about their experience.
Key findings from the survey include:
- Top two reasons Mainers chose to buy electric cars: to reduce air pollution (76%) and save money on gasoline (50%).
- Top reason Mainers like their electric cars: Drivability (e.g. good handling, acceleration)
- Drivers would overwhelmingly recommend EVs to others (91%) and find them reliable (96%) and easy/affordable to maintain (89%).
- 52% of respondents save more than $50 per month on gasoline, and an additional 30% save at least $25 per month.
- Most respondents (62%) use their EV for commuting; a third of EV commuters travel more than 20 miles each way to and from work.
- Most initial concerns EV drivers had when they purchased the car went away after they began driving; however, concerns about battery range and the availability of charging stations remain important.Eighty-seven percent of electric car owners primarily charge their cars at home. Charging at home, typically overnight, is extremely convenient, and results in a full “tank” every morning. Another 9% charge primarily at work, which likely includes business- or municipal-owned vehicles.
Mainers also use public charging stations more than in 2014. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of drivers using a public charging station at least five times a year quadrupled, from around 5% to around 20 percent. Seventeen percent of drivers report using some kind of public (non-workplace) charging station as a “secondary” charging location, with just over 40% using public charging “occasionally.”
Although the number of publicly available charging stations has increased significantly, many more will be needed. Even though the bulk of charging hours will continue to be done at home, easy access to publicly available charging is important for many more Mainers to be comfortable going electric.
“Charging stations at stores, city buildings, recreational destinations, and other public spots, are important to meet the needs of many Maine EV drivers,” said Voorhees. “That’s why we are excited that Efficiency Maine and the Maine Department of Transportation are teaming up to invest $3.5 million toward an emerging charging station plan for Maine. Fast-charging stations along travel corridors, paired with hundreds of smaller charging stations at longer-stay destinations, will make Maine an attractive destination for tourists who drive electric cars and will benefit Mainers, too.”
As Phase One of that plan, Efficiency Maine is currently seeking bidders to install and operate seven fast-charging stations on the Maine Turnpike and other travel corridors.