Summary: 

  • Teslas are the most-driven electric cars, with all four models ranking at the top of the list
  • The average electric car is driven 9,059 miles a year, compared to 12,758 miles for gas-powered vehicles
  • Electric cars cost 47 percent more than internal combustion cars, but are driven 29 percent less
  • The strong relationship between an EV’s range and driving behavior confirms more range will increase use, but that’s not a realistic solution at today’s battery costs

 

The average 3-year-old electric car has been driven 9,059 miles per year, almost 29 percent less than the 12,758 miles per year 3-year-old gas-powered internal combustion vehicles drive. As a brand, Tesla tops the list for most-driven electric cars, with all four of its models beating the average for EVs. The Tesla Model X, a midsize family SUV with three rows of seating, is the most-driven electric car, averaging 10,378 miles a year.

iSeeCars analyzed the data of over 860,000 vehicles to determine which electric vehicles were driven the most and the least, and to compare the EV numbers with traditional 3-year-old cars powered by internal combustion engines.

“Tesla drivers come the closest to matching the driving behavior of traditional car owners,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “Without Tesla, the average miles per year for EV drivers would drop from 9,059 to 6,719. It’s also interesting to see the Porsche Taycan, a direct competitor to the Model S, being the least-driven electric car. At 4,846 miles a year, it’s driven about half as much as the Model S at 9,340 miles per year.”

The Most Driven 3-Year-Old Electric Vehicles – iSeeCars.com Study
Rank Model Avg. Miles Driven Per Year Avg. EPA Battery Range (miles) Avg. Price
1 Tesla Model X 10,378 341 $76,193
2 Tesla Model Y 10,199 316 $49,406
3 Tesla Model 3 9,960 279 $37,909
4 Tesla Model S 9,340 378 $66,105
3-year-old EV average 9,059 279 $45,147
5 Hyundai Kona Electric 8,260 258 $29,961
6 Chevrolet Bolt EV 7,753 259 $25,928
7 Audi e-tron Sportback 7,210 218 $53,602
8 Jaguar I-PACE 6,910 240 $51,090
9 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 6,803 170 $24,748
10 Kia Niro EV 6,630 239 $32,301
11 Nissan LEAF 6,395 190 $25,917
12 Porsche Taycan 4,846 226 $117,484

Electric Cars vs. Internal Combustion: Pay More, Drive Less

Three-year-old electric vehicles have an average price of $45,147, while 3-year-old internal combustion cars cost an average of $30,760. This means electric cars cost 47 percent more than conventional vehicles, but are driven 29 percent less (9,059 miles vs. 12,758 miles). 

“Several factors contribute to EVs being driven less, including their common role as a second or third vehicle in a household, and being used less often for road trips,” said Brauer. “But the most powerful factor may be an EV’s battery range and the associated range anxiety.”

Range Anxiety: EV Driving Behavior as a Function of Battery Range

Comparing an electric car’s range to how it’s driven shows a consistent and expected pattern: more range equals more use.
*Datapoint labels correspond to the model rankings in “The Most Driven 3-Year-Old Electric Vehicles” table.

“Range anxiety continues to impact how consumers utilize their EVs,” said Brauer. “Looking at 3-year-old electric cars, we see EV owners willing to drive an additional 23 miles per year for every additional mile of range their vehicle offers. That means EVs, on average, need an additional 161 miles of range to get them to the 12,578-mile annual driving distance we see from traditional, gasoline-powered vehicles.”

Adding 161 miles of range to the average 3-year-old electric car would increase its average range from 279 miles to 440 miles. This happens to be almost the exact range for 3-year-old gasoline cars, which average 24.7 miles per gallon and have an average fuel tank capacity of 18 gallons.

Excluding the Porsche Taycan because of its outlier pricing (at 2.6 times the average EV price), consumers are paying an additional $10,000 to get an additional 26.5 miles of battery range. This means to get those additional 161 miles, 3-year-old EVs would need to cost an additional $60,000, on average, to deliver 440 miles of range – assuming no changes in future used EV pricing. That would increase their average price to an unrealistic $105,147.

Range Anxiety vs. Real-World Use Cases

Based on data from the Department of Transportation’s 2017 National Household Travel Survey, the average car trip is only 9.5 miles and 95 percent of car trips are 30.9 miles or less. Only 1 percent of car trips are more than 89.4 miles long. Even doubling that distance (179 miles) for a round trip means almost all 3-year-old EVs have more than enough range to cover all of these use cases. 

Yet EV owners drive their cars less than traditional vehicles are driven, with range anxiety likely the key factor in this difference. The charging infrastructure continues to improve, reducing the likelihood of running out of energy. However, fully recharging an electric vehicle takes up to 30 minutes in a best-case scenario, and multiple hours in most instances. 

“Range anxiety is less about being stranded in the middle of nowhere and more about the ‘refueling’ process for electric vehicles,” said Brauer. “In a gasoline car, regardless of how far you’re going, there are always plenty of refueling options and the process takes 5 to 10 minutes. Until EVs can offer that level of convenience at a comparable cost, they will be at a distinct disadvantage in terms of use and market demand.”

The Most Driven 3-year-old Electric Vehicles by Metro Area

The most driven EVs in the top 50 metro areas include all four Tesla models, as well as the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the Hyundai Kona Electric, and the Chevrolet Bolt EV.  The Tesla Model X is the most driven EV in 16 metro areas, the most of any model, followed closely by the Tesla Model 3 as the most driven EV in 12.
Most Driven 3-year-old Electric Vehicle in Top 50 Metro Areas
Metro Area Model Avg. Miles Driven Per Year
Detroit, MI Tesla Model X 14,618
Cincinnati, OH Tesla Model X 14,175
Nashville, TN Tesla Model Y 13,442
Columbus, OH Tesla Model X 13,130
Salt Lake City, UT Hyundai Ioniq Electric 12,967
St. Louis, MO Tesla Model X 12,837
Baltimore, MD Tesla Model X 12,823
Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC Tesla Model 3 12,805
Denver, CO Hyundai Ioniq Electric 12,782
Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News,VA Tesla Model S 12,637
Louisville, KY Tesla Model 3 12,628
San Antonio, TX Tesla Model S 12,455
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX Tesla Model Y 12,378
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL Chevrolet Bolt EV 12,203
Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL Tesla Model Y 12,198
Greensboro-Winston Salem, NC Tesla Model S 12,152
Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM Tesla Model 3 12,084
Greenville-Spartanburg, SC Tesla Model 3 11,972
Philadelphia, PA Tesla Model Y 11,958
Charlotte, NC Tesla Model X 11,873
Pittsburgh, PA Tesla Model X 11,798
Kansas City, MO Tesla Model 3 11,763
Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL Tesla Model X 11,678
Las Vegas, NV Tesla Model X 11,656
Phoenix, AZ Hyundai Ioniq Electric 11,638
Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA Tesla Model Y 11,631
Los Angeles, CA Hyundai Ioniq Electric 11,431
Indianapolis, IN Tesla Model X 11,426
Chicago, IL Tesla Model S 11,399
Atlanta, GA Tesla Model X 11,389
San Diego, CA Hyundai Ioniq Electric 11,371
Portland, OR Tesla Model X 11,307
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL Tesla Model Y 11,267
Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH Chevrolet Bolt EV 11,246
New York, NY Tesla Model S 11,018
Birmingham, AL Tesla Model 3 11,004
Houston, TX Hyundai Ioniq Electric 10,998
Jacksonville, FL Tesla Model Y 10,988
Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) Tesla Model X 10,947
Boston, MA-Manchester, NH Tesla Model 3 10,914
Fresno-Visalia, CA Tesla Model X 10,761
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Tesla Model Y 10,646
Hartford & New Haven, CT Tesla Model X 10,628
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN Tesla Model X 10,576
Oklahoma City, OK Tesla Model 3 10,518
Seattle-Tacoma, WA Hyundai Kona Electric 10,447
Austin, TX Tesla Model 3 10,429
Harrisburg-Lancaster-York, PA Tesla Model 3 10,413
Milwaukee, WI Tesla Model 3 10,226
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, MI Tesla Model 3 10,184

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 860,000 model year 2020 used cars from January to mid-May 2023. Battery-powered fully electric vehicles (EVs) were analyzed separately from gas-powered vehicles. The average mileage per year was calculated for each model and used to rank models by their driving behavior; the average price was also calculated. Low-volume models were excluded from further analysis. For EVs, the average EPA-rated battery range was also aggregated, and a simple mathematical model predicting miles driven as a function of battery range was fit to the data. For the top 50 metro areas, a larger time window from 2018 to mid-May 2023 was used.

 

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a data-driven car search and research company that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, including the iSeeCars VIN Check report and Best Cars Rankings. iSeeCars has saved users over $390 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.