When is it Enough? Owning an Electric Car and Dealing with Range Anxiety

By Trevor Dorchies | August 01, 2012
Upon its introduction into the American market, the electric car was supposed to curb foreign oil dependency. Yet electric vehicles still only account for a fraction of cars on U.S. roads today, despite the advantage EV owners have of passing by gas stations. The problem: EV owners still worry about their vehicle's battery pack having enough juice to go from point A to point B without it getting fully depleted. This is known as range anxiety, the fear that an EV will drain its battery before you reach your desired destination.  Research conducted by industry experts has concluded that an electric vehicle is capable of making 95 percent of all daily trips driven in the United States. Even so, many perspective EV buyers get cold feet because they believe this range isn't enough to satisfy their daily driving requirements. So when will EVs have a big enough range to make more people comfortable getting behind the wheel on a daily basis? After the Plug-In 2012 conference in San Antonio last week, we have our answer: 120 miles. That 120-mile figure is enough for two hours of driving at freeway speeds, more than enough to get through even the most extreme commute without needing a charge during the day. Charging stations are sparse if you don't live in a mega-metropolis like Los Angeles or Boston and that also contributes to a driver's range anxiety. Current fast charging technology can recharge a larger battery in about an hour which, with the new 120 range, could make a 240 mile trip possible, theoretically of course.
So how can current EVs like the 2012 Nissan Leaf, which gets an EPA-rated 73 miles per charge, increase its range to 120 miles? While it's been a slow and arduous process, battery technology is getting better, and the price of EVs have dropped faster than anticipated. Both factors play a significant role in the further development of an EV's battery. Experts now believe reaching a 120 mile range is much more likely than it was even two years ago. For the time being, automakers like Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Coda—and for those with deep pockets, Tesla—will have to do. Only Tesla and its Model S can offer an EV with a range equivalent to what a gasoline-powered engine gets, but you're going to have to shell out some extra money for one of those. For the rest of us, we're at the mercy of range anxiety until batteries can go longer. Even if we don't have to be. Source: Christian Science Monitor

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Its not the range that is the issue. No one checks the size of the fuel tank, or asks about the range, before buying an i.c. engine powered car because they know they can refuel it quickly and easily. Until the charging time approaches the time required to re-fuel a conventional car, and the charging points are as readily accessible as fuel stations are now, electric vehicles will remain a niche choice. My car has a range of 500 to 600 miles, but I know that if I want to go further in 2-3 days I can, because I can refuel it. E.V makers need to stop wasting time developing cars with greater range, and put the investment into making charging faster and more convenient. That's what will change consumers' attitudes.