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What will it take to completely eliminate EV range anxiety?
Oliver Luft

Oliver Luft

400 miles? 100 kilometers? How far you expect an electric vehicle to travel could depend on how you typically use your car.

Electric vehicles have never been more popular, yet fears around being left stranded by an exhausted battery remain a key reason why some car buyers resist making a purchase. In your opinion, how far does an electric car need to be able to travel before range stops being an issue?

Range anxiety

Range anxiety is a common barrier for consumers across the globe. In the UK, three-quarters of people believe electric vehicles don’t go far enough on a single charge. Across the pond, the idea of running out of power is also a worry for most American drivers.

Even in Norway, otherwise known as the most electric-car-friendly nation on the planet, a sizable minority still considers range the biggest barrier to buying an electric vehicle.

But when we talk about ‘range’, how far do we actually mean?

Different uses

A recent study in the UK showed just how difficult it is to pin down an ‘ideal’ range. A third of motorists said they would accept up to 300 miles as the range that would entice them to buy an electric vehicle. The same number demanded up to 400 miles on a single charge, with the remaining third waiting for 400-1,000 miles.

To confuse the matter even more, a separate study in the US found the distance consumers were willing to accept could be as low as 75 miles.

Consumer outlook

Such wild variation is likely to be the result of how different people expect to use their cars in different ways.

If charging stations were distributed like our existing filling station network, a range of around 400 miles could potentially replicate the way traditional cars are used today. Yet, satisfaction with a much shorter range suggests possible change in the outlook of drivers.

Shorter distances

In the US, the average driver travels just 29 miles each day with almost all journeys being made for running errands, social meetups, and commuting to work. People regularly making these sorts of journeys might be willing to accept a car the delivers a much shorter range, as it would suit their needs.

Even in Norway electric vehicles are frequently just used for commuting to work. Often, owners also have a traditional fossil-fuel vehicle that’s big enough to fill with leisure equipment for trips into Norway’s great outdoors. They have both types, because each is suited to a different use.

It’s interesting that most of those responding to the Mini study felt the best use of an electric vehicle was either for commuting or driving in an urban area – in other words, lower distance journeys.

If the way to encourage adoption of electric vehicles is as a second car that’s just used for shorter, basic journeys, then it seems a good proportion of people are ready to get behind that idea.