Consumer Education v. Range Anxiety

Potential EV drivers no longer need to fear being stranded on the open road, far away from the nearest charging station.  A new study published in Nature Energy, by researchers at MIT and the Santa Fe Institute, shows that “range anxiety” is an irrational fear. 

Nissan Leaf

The range anxiety boogeyman has been a huge problem for attracting new customers to the EV market because it’s widely known that EV batteries won’t send a car as far as a full tank of gasoline will. However, this seems to be a case of consumers thinking they need something that they actually don’t.

The elaborate study, as reported by The Washington Post, shows that 87% of drivers could get through their normal daily commute in an electric powered car without needing to charge. The study was based on the 2013 Nissan Leaf, so as batteries improve in range with newer models, that number will creep towards 100%.

The researchers took into account regional temperature variations, vehicle speeds, and driver habits. They found that all types of cities would be able to transition to at least 84% EVs, and if the entire country were to make this transition, emissions from gasoline would drop 30%. Now there’s an incentive.

The biggest problem, then, appears to be consumer education. In order to make the EV case to the greater market, potential buyers need to know how much range they actually need, as well as the environmental benefits of electric vehicles. It also helps to tell consumers that these cars are a lot of fun to drive, and getting more affordable every year.