Getting over “Range Anxiety” and into Electric Cars


Source: Conservation Magazine

If you have ever considered buying an electric car but haven’t done so in fear of the car battery dying before getting to a charging station – which is known as “range anxiety” – fear no more. A new study shows that most American drivers do not go beyond the distance that today’s electric cars can go in a single battery charge in one day.

87 percent of the vehicles on the road could be replaced by low-cost EVs on the market today even if they were only charged overnight, say the MIT researchers who conducted the study published in Nature Energy.

If this large-scale swap were to happen, it would lead to roughly 30 percent less carbon emissions even—if the electricity were coming from carbon-emitting power plants.

The researchers analyzed daily vehicle travel patterns across the US by bringing together two large data sets. One, the National Household Travel Survey, gave them information on millions of trips made by all kinds of cars. The other included detailed GPS-based data collected by state agencies that measured second-by-second velocity of each kind of trip. The researchers also factored in ambient temperature and inefficient driving behavior to calculate the energy consumption of each trip: extensive heating or cooling and driving habits such as hard acceleration zap energy and can reduce driving range.

Taking the 2013 Nissan Leaf as an example of an affordable EV on the market, the researchers found that it could meet the driving needs of 87 percent of vehicles on a single day. That number could go up to 98 percent as batteries meet new capacity targets set by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

What about the remaining 13 percent of trips? The researchers admit that electric cars might not cut it for longer trips, such as vacation travel. For those times, they suggest that people in a two-car household could use their gasoline-powered vehicle, or they could rely on car-sharing or renting services.

Continue reading the full story at Conservation Magazine here.

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