Electric cars are great for everyone—in theory. In reality, the EVs of today are beholden to the limits of lithium-ion batteries and charge station availability. It's difficult to gauge whether your driving habits will work with an EV's limitations without buying one. But that's an expensive test, which is why Virtual Vehicle Company has developed Virtual Test Drive, an app that runs in the background of your smartphone, logging data about the way you drive every time you get in the car.
After 24 hours, drivers can log onto Virtual Test Drive's website, view routes that they have recently driven—and see the cost savings and range issues that they might run into driving a Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, or hybrid electric Prius on those same routes. It is, in other words, a way for people to determine whether they should buy an EV without ever actually driving one.
Once the service is used by more people, Virtual Test Drive's aggregated data could even be leveraged by planners to figure out where EV infrastructure is needed most.
So far, Virtual Test Drive is only available to beta testers. Laura Schewel, chief scientist at Virtual Vehicle Company, tells Fast Company that many testers have been surprised by their daily and weekly gasoline expenditures, as well as by the large number of EV charge stations located along their most well-traveled routes. Want to check out Virtual Test Drive for yourself? Beta testers can sign up here.