Range anxiety: what it is and how to defeat it

Valentina Neri Serneri Oct 29, 2020 · 5 min read

Range anxiety is considered as one of the thorniest barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). In this article, we will discuss what range anxiety is. We will explore why you should not have this fear and how to overcome it. Let’s delve into it, shall we?

What is range anxiety?

Range anxiety is the fear of an electric vehicle not having sufficient power to reach its destination, thus leaving the passengers stranded on the side of the road.

Curiously, range anxiety seems to affect more people who don’t own an EV than those who do. At the end of 2019 a survey held by AAA among EV owners in the United States showed that 91% of the respondents felt range anxiety before switching to an electric car. However, 77% of them stated that they no longer have such concerns once they started driving an EV. Driving an electric vehicle requires a mentality shift, and at the end it’s just a matter of practice and having the right tools to drive effortlessly. As you know, practice makes perfect.

3 ways to defeat range anxiety

We have outlined the following three reasons how to overcome your range anxiety, and how the market will help you with this.

The charge network is being extended

You usually notice petrol stations while driving. Most of them are signposted and are huge constructions that you simply cannot miss. According to FuelsEurope, there are more than 130.000 petrol stations in the European Union, Turkey, Norway, and Switzerland together. In the United States, their Census Bureau recorded about 114.000 of them.

On the contrary, you probably won’t notice all the charging stations that you pass by when you’re driving. In 2019 Statista registered 170.000 public charging stations in the EU. However, the Netherlands, Germany, and France alone account for more than half of it. In the United States, there are roughly 25.000 charging stations, 24% of which are located in California. That same source stated that China already had more than 500.000 charging stations at the beginning of 2020.

Comparing the number of available petrol stations and charging stations, the latter doesn’t seem too low. This isn’t an apples to apples comparison, but it helps to put things into perspective. Anyway, you may rightfully argue that your area is not yet covered by public chargers, which is often the case in most of the central states in the United States, and also in some European countries like Italy, Finland, and Greece. But guess what, we have two pieces of good news for you.

First of all, Wood Mackenzie expects Europe to install over 8 million additional public charges by 2030; the United States to install more than 10 million, and China more than 9 million. Thus, as the e-mobility market will surge in the coming years, the charging infrastructure will follow as well.

Second, if you are living in a detached house, you can already easily install a home charging point and recharge your EV every night in the comfort of your own house. ChargePoint found that 80% of the charging takes place at home. Plus, nowadays residential and office buildings have started to provide charging stations to their tenants. There is still a long way to go in this specific segment, but we are positive more and more buildings will be equipped with charging points as the demand keeps growing.

EV routing application will guide you to your destination

Using an EV for daily commuting isn’t perceived as problematic anymore because every commuter is familiar with charging stations on their route to work. However, the longer the trip lasts, the more anxious you might get. In such a case, you want to know in advance where and when exactly you can charge your electric car.

EV drivers know that regular navigation applications don’t show this kind of information and therefore are not so useful for them.

A specialized EV navigation and routing application is what you need to take an anxiety-free long trip. Usually, in these apps, you can set up your car model and input how much battery you have at the moment of departure. The routing engine will show you a few routes you can take, indicating the charging stations you need to stop at along the way. To be as precise as possible, these apps take several dynamic variables, such as elevation, temperature, and plug type, into account when calculating the journey. This way, you’ll be certain to arrive at your destination comfortably. Certainty puts an end to range anxiety, no doubt.

Battery range is increasing

Automotive manufacturers are investing in research and development to produce batteries with the most extended range possible to alleviate drivers’ range anxiety.

Below, we have compiled a list of the most popular EV models globally to have a clear overview of the driving ranges today. We have considered the top 10 best-selling electric cars in 2019 listed by CleanTechnica and got the range data from their manufacturers.

We need to add a disclaimer here. These range values resulted from laboratory tests in perfect conditions. In reality, battery range varies because there are many variables that influence it — for example, the battery age, the outside temperature, and your driving habits.

This table shows that you could drive your electric car for an average of 400km/248miles without having to recharge it. Considering that 98% of the cars’ trips are under 80km/50miles, we can assure you that there is no need to be anxious about your EV not having enough battery range.

Driving an electric vehicle is completely different than driving a regular gasoline one. There are more variables you need to consider, but that doesn’t mean you need to be good in math. A home charger or a public one close to your place, together with a good EV routing app will relieve you of your range anxiety. So why wait any longer? Take the plunge!