EV range anxiety? Gas vehicles dwarf EVs on the average number of miles driven

Americans bought EVs in record numbers last year, with Cox Automotive reporting 1.2 million sales in 2023. They still only make up a single-digit percentage of the overall auto market here, and they are clearly being used in ways that are different from gasoline-powered cars. A recent study from iSeeCars found that gas vehicles saw the most mileage between November 2022 and April 2023, with EVs being driven the least.

Americans drove gas cars an average of 12,813 miles during that period, the most of any fuel type iSeeCars studied. In order, the average number of annual miles for three-year-old vehicles per fuel type:

  • EVs: 10,256 miles
  • Plug-In Hybrids: 12,199
  • Hybrids: 12,471
  • Gas: 12,813

Executive analyst Karl Brauer cited the limited charging infrastructure and range anxiety as contributing factors to the lower EV mileage number. Also, buyers are more likely to choose an EV specifically to be used for short-haul duties around town, where constant stop and go provides regeneration opportunities, and its more limited range is not a hindrance. Brauer noted that the gas engines in hybrids and plug-in hybrids add to their flexibility and appeal, landing them much closer to gas cars on miles driven.

That said, it’s worth noting that hybrids and PHEVs tend to deliver their best fuel economy in the city, where stop-and-go traffic lets them utilize their electric motors to a higher degree than at highway speeds. Hybrids don’t need to be charged, but PHEVs must be plugged in to deliver their most efficient performance. Plug-in hybrids can bridge the gap between gas and electric powertrain options for many buyers. They offer a short all-electric range backed by a gas engine and somewhat traditional hybrid operation once they exhaust battery power.

Lower average mileage and more expensive purchase prices for EVs mean a higher cost-per-mile, making them the most expensive to drive over a 1,000-mile cycle. The average cost for an EV to travel that distance was $5,108, dwarfing the costs to drive any other fuel type. With their costs spread over a much larger number of miles, gas cars were the cheapest at $3,123 per 1,000 miles. Hybrids cost $3,056 to operate, and PHEVs $4,351.

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