The 6 Best Ways to Beat Range Anxiety

February 10th, 2012

Nissan Leaf at a charger

Range anxiety is treatable.

While I’m not sold on the serious need for electric vehicles, I acknowledge that we’re likely to see more gas-less motor cars swishing through our cities in the coming years.

I see three big problems with EVs:

  1. They have an extremely limited range (which varies according to many factors, including temperature, traffic conditions and speed).
  2. There is no mass infrastructure to recharge them.
  3. The electricity they use still must be produced somehow. (Coal? Nuclear?)

Infrastructure can be built and more nuclear plants can go live to pump more electricity into our failing grid. But there’s not much that can be done to change the fact that batteries in electric cars will empty much faster than they recharge. So how can you deal with the anxiety of not making it home once you venture out in your new electric car? Keep reading, friends.

1. Live in a bubble

Bubble city

Make sure your work, home, friends and favorite hangouts are all within a 15-mile radius. Never leave your bubble.

2. Own an EV and a gas-powered car.

2011 Nissan Leaf in a garage

Even if you’re just one person and need only one car, owning an EV means you actually need two. Because everyone, sometimes, needs to leave their bubble.

3. Tow a generator.

Nissan Leaf towing a turbine

This guy does.

4. Have friends with gas-powered cars.

Electricity over

One of them can come save you when you get stranded.

5. Join AAA

AAA mobile charging truck

Why not let them use their giant gas-guzzling trucks to drive to your stranded car to recharge your dead battery?

6. Buy now and hope Stanford’s technology works later.

Chevrolet Volt on the highway

Imagine, coils in the road that power your EV using magnetic resonance as you drive. In theory, you could have more charge in your battery by the end of your trip than when you started.

As gas engines become more efficient, and 100-mpg cars become a reality, the need for EVs will drop drastically, and range anxiety will be a thing of the past. Right?

-tgriffith

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  1. Randy
    February 12th, 2012 at 07:24 | #1

    It will be interesting to watch as some of the better EV markets develop (California, NYC/Boston) to see how useful the infrastructure becomes. Ideal would be having most major destinations where people hover (shopping centers, work places, entertainment districts, theaters) giving the EV time to charge for a few hours. The only public charging station I’m familiar with was installed in a parking lot in downtown Bay City, Michigan, which at 85 miles away, is beyond the range of any EV I’m familiar with.

  2. jgoods
    February 10th, 2012 at 14:33 | #2

    Mark Vaughn of Autoweek makes an excellent point that you don’t have to spend big money for an expensive charging dock. All you need is a proper plug and charge cable and/or a 240-volt line (simple to install). EVs are mostly for defined commutes anyway, and the cost is going to come down, plus the range anxiety for those who want these cars.

    See: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120208/FREE/120209882?utm_source=DailyDrive20120208&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=article7&utm_content=20120208-Get_charged_up_without_zapping_your_wallet&utm_campaign=awdailydrive

  3. February 10th, 2012 at 13:22 | #3

    As for point no 3 why not follow the new london bus concept, whereby instead of towing the generator along, why not integrate it into the vehicle itself. Will look better, and when needed, the generator can charge up the batteries on the go.

  4. Randy
    February 10th, 2012 at 08:02 | #4

    Back when I worked at GM Research Labs, we had several EV-1′s that were assigned to employees for evaluation. At the time, I was living at the outer range of the vehicle, so I understand all about range anxiety. I had the car for a week and sometimes had to really watch my driving to make sure I could get home or to work. (And, that was during the summer when cold weather didn’t lower range.)
    Given the very high cost electrics, I don’t see any real market penetration so range anxiety won’t become a cultural phonomenon. I could use an EV since most of my driving is short range, but given that I own my current vehicles, I could buy gas for ten years for both cars for the cost of a Nissan Leaf.
    One feature that all EV’s need is a navigation system that is tailored to the car, and helps the driver make sure they can reach their destination, drive the most efficient routes, and even find a charging station if needed. (or help that AAA truck find them.) That’s the real advantage of hybrids, being able to charge themselves.

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