Led by Volt, LEAF and Tesla Model S, EV Drivers in the U.S. have Racked up Well Over 10 Billion e-Miles Driven

By Mia Yamauchi

March & April 2017 Update:

We thought we’d do a quick check-in on the data. Adding in March and April EV sales to our estimated e-miles driven, the cumulative total now stands at 11.5 billion e-miles driven by modern production EVs. It took seven years to get to 10 billion – in the first four months of 2017, we’ve added another 1.5 billion e-miles. (All the data below has not been updated – we will do so later in the year.)

Sometime around the New Year an EV driver silently drove the 10 billionth U.S. e-mile (since 2010). Just three months later, if it hasn’t already happened, the 11 billionth e-mile will be driven.

cumulative us e-miles cross 11 billion miles graph

The modern era of electric vehicles was kicked off in earnest with the roll out of the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF in December of 2010. At the time, a silicon valley start-up called Tesla (née Motors) was rapidly building up to the release of its industry-changing Model S. Since then, members of that trio, the “Big 3” of EVs, have led the way in the EV market in the U.S. and dominate the total e-miles driven accounting with a full 76% of all electric miles.

Here’s how our estimated numbers shake out.

As of February 2016 the total number of e-miles driven is about 10.7 billion.

And since more than 300 Million of those e-miles were driven in February alone it’s likely that the 11th billionth is happening right about now (late March 2017).


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The Big 3 of EVs Account for 3/4 of All E-Miles

It’s not the Tesla Model S or even the LEAF that have the most e-miles.

e-miles by ev type us 2017 big 3

The Chevy Volt has accumulated about 3 Billion of those miles (Gen 1 ~2.8 Bn and Gen 2 the remaining 200+ million e-miles). Nissan LEAF has an estimated 2.92 Billion e-miles and Tesla Model S drivers are at about 2.2 Billion e-miles.

We did account for the Volt and other PHEVs hybrid fuel nature. Below is a table of e-miles per month by EV model. Estimates are based on data from studies out of the Idaho National Laboratory and the California Air Resources Board as well as some OEM data. Check our methodology here and we welcome corrections and improvements to our estimates.

PHEV Battery-Only Range Gas Tank Size E-Miles / Month
Tesla Model X 237 to 289 1029
Tesla Model S 210 – 315 1028
RAV4 103 960
LEAF 30 107 828
KIA Soul EV 93 820
Mercedes B-Class EV 85 809
VW eGolf 125 808
LEAF 24 84 808
Honda Fit 82 807
Ford Focus Electric 100 796
Volt II 53 8.9 789
Volt 38 9.3 759
FIAT 500E 87 659
BMW i3 iREX 80 – 114 1.9 – 2.4 641
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid 33 16.5 614

While the Volt and LEAF total cumulative miles are essentially a dead heat, why is the Tesla Model S, with its longer range (which seems to account for a larger monthly e-miles driven) lagging? It’s just a matter of time. Volt and LEAF sales began a few years ahead of the Model S and this chart shows the Model S tracking at roughly the same curve just two years later. More details here.

electric e-miles by ev electric vehicle model cumulative annual line graph

Tesla the Only EV Maker in the Big Three to Gain E-Miles Share 2016 to 2017

Taking a look at the EV fleets by manufacturer GM and Nissan have racked up e-miles at about the same rate since 2012. With the combination of Tesla Model S and Model X (and peppering in the Roadster miles), Tesla is poised to rapidly overtake the lead. It gained 3% in share of total US e-miles between January of 2016 and 2017, while Nissan and GM’s share each shrank by 3%.

electric e-miles by ev electric vehicle model 2015 2016 bar chart

Tesla’s continued charge forward in e-miles share is likely due to two factors:

  1. Each Tesla owner simply gets more e-miles because Teslas have the electric range to be “everything cars.”
  2. The addition of Model X e-miles is rapidly adding e-miles to the Tesla fleet (and likely to keep accelerating that growth)

share of e-miles by oem cumulative miles driven on electricity pie chart graph

Out of every hundred miles driven on electricity in the US, 22 have been in a Tesla of some kind — either Model S, Model X, or Roadster. Not bad considering the 178 year combined lead that Nissan and and GM have on Tesla in automaking experience.

Tesla Could Take the Lead as Soon as 2018

Elon Musk should learn the MC Hammer dance because no one will be able to touch Tesla on e-miles driven by 2018. Chevrolet’s Bolt is projected to sell 30k over the course of 2017. Tesla is projecting a 50% increase in Model S and Model X sales. If Tesla sales come anywhere near those numbers, as they have in past years, it will keep the electric car company well ahead of Chevy. And that’s not counting the 50k+ Model 3 US deliveries predicted by Musk in 2017.

We believe transparency is good! See more on our data, sources and methodology here.