Range Anxiety: Substance or Sasquatch?

anx·i·e·ty/aNGˈzīədē/  a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome

EV dashboardWe all feel anxious from time to time. The lexicon of anxiousness is ingrained in our culture. We worry, we fret, we kvell.

If you are considering getting an electric car, you may have been told that there will be a whole new thing for you to be anxious about: range. Will you end up “white-knuckling” down the road, hoping your beloved Leaf or Soul or e-Golf does not slip into the dreaded “turtle mode?” Or worse yet, should you fret about your EV dying completely, leaving you stranded by the side of the road, as internal combustion vehicles whiz by in a confident stream of gas-powered convenience?

It is curious that we don’t hear about “transmission anxiety,” “fuel leak anxiety,” or “radiator anxiety.” These are, after all, just a few of the ways a gas car can, and often does, break down and leave us stranded. An electric car is free of all these worries, as it has no transmission, fuel, or radiator.

So do drivers of electric cars experience range anxiety? Is it a legitimate part of the electric driving experience?

No, it is not. It turns out that “range anxiety” is no more real than “transmission anxiety.”

I have driven over 6000 miles on my all-electric Fiat 500e, and I have never suffered from range anxiety. This is for a very simple reason. I always know where I am going.

Think about this for a moment. How often do we leave home for our workplace 15 or 20 miles away, then suddenly turn onto the freeway shouting “I’m going to Seattle!” It doesn’t happen. We always know where we are going, and how far away it is.

If I decide on a particular day that I desperately need a cup of coffee from the “original Starbucks,” or otherwise need to drive beyond the range of my electric car, I either take the hardly-used gas car in our driveway, or I rent a car for about $20 a day.

Every other day I confidently zip around Sonoma County in my EV, as the road slips under me cleanly and silently. If anything, driving an EV has reduced my anxiety, not only because of the many hundreds of breakable parts my car does not have, but because I am relaxed knowing I am doing such a big thing to reduce the anxiety we should all have about climate change.

It turns out that avoiding range anxiety is insanely simple, and that the fears non-EV drivers have about the range limitations of EVs are completely overblown.

That’s why the myth of range anxiety is less substance than Sasquatch, it just doesn’t exist.

Doron Amiran

Doron Amiran is the Electric Vehicle Program Manager for the The Climate Center.
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.