Determining whether an electric car is practical for you is likely to depend heavily on its range. Can the car make it to your work and back home on a single charge? Would it be able to reach your favorite weekend destination? If it can, it may be worth further consideration.
One way to answer these questions and to see what else is within reach of your typical charging location is by mapping the driving range in arcgis.com. It’s simple to do—in fact, it’s not much different than generating driving directions—and this article shows you how to do it.
- First, log into your ArcGIS Online organizational account.
- Click Map.
Add charging location to the map
The point you will place on the map will represent where you would typically charge the vehicle, such as at home or work.
- Click the Add button and choose Add Map Notes.
- In the Add Map Notes dialog box, type an appropriate name, such as Home or Office, and click Create.
- Zoom into the location on the map where you would charge your vehicle.
To automatically zoom, type the address or place name into the search box.
- In the Add Features pane on the left, choose a point symbol, such as Stickpin.
- Click the location on the map where you will charge your vehicle.
- In the Points dialog box that appears, click Close.
Perform the Create Drive-Time Areas analysis
- Click Details.
- Click Content.
- Click the arrow next to new map notes layer—Office in this example—and choose Perform Analysis.
- Click Use Proximity > Create Drive-Time Areas.
- Under Measure, click Driving Distance and type half the range of the vehicle you want to consider. (By using half, you are planning to be able to return to your typical charging location.) The following list provides ranges of some popular electric vehicles; it was assembled from information on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website:
- Tesla Model S (2013, 60 kWh) – 208 miles/334 kilometers
- Nissan Leaf (2013) – 75 miles/120 kilometers
- Ford Focus (2013) – 76 miles/122 kilometers
- Honda Fit (2014) – 82 miles/131 kilometers
- Optionally, type a different name for your result layer and specify another folder.
- Click Show credits to see how many credits will be deducted from your account when you run the analysis, and then click Run Analysis.
The result layer name appears with an icon next to it to indicate the result is being generated.
- Zoom out to view the entire polygon and explore the area it covers. This is the approximate area you could reach in the electric car.
The only way to reach the perimeter of the polygon and return without running out of energy is by taking the shortest path from and back to the charging location. You can use the Directions tool to help figure out shortest routes.
You can rerun the analysis with multiple ranges to view the difference between cold- and hot-weather ranges. To do that, open the Create Drive-Time Areas tool again, but rather than typing a single range, type the cold-weather range, a space, and the warm-weather range.
The result is a two-part polygon, which you can symbolize with appropriate colors.
The following map uses the multiple-range capabilities to show a driving range that is categorized by ¼, ½, ¾, and full charges.
Multiple charging stations
Creating driving-range maps on multiple points at once is useful to see where you could travel using public charging stations.
The U.S. Department of Energy offers a data-download webpage that gives the location of alternative fueling stations. You can download a CSV and drag and drop it into a map to create points for each station. (If the CSV contains more than 1,000 points, you can go to My Content, click Add Item, and import the locations while being sure to choose Address as the location method and Address as a location field for the Street_Address field.)
Once the data is added as a feature service, you can add it to a map and perform an analysis on it.
Straight-line vs. road distance
When mapping automobile ranges, it’s important to make travel time or distance measurements along roads. If you use straight-line distance instead, the map will overstate the range. The following map compares the two measurement types. Click here to view the interactive map.
The circular areas were generated by measuring straight-line distances from charging stations (using the Create Buffers analysis tool). The other polygons were formed from measurements along roads and highways and provide a more accurate estimate of driving ranges.