Automotive

Forget range anxiety: Study suggests non-EV drivers underestimate capabilities


Between longer-range EVs and increased charging infrastructure, the reasons for range anxiety are decreasing. But not everyone believes that, according to a new University of Geneva study.

Published in the journal Nature Energy, the study of 2,000 drivers in the United States and Germany found that many drivers chronically underestimate EVs’ ability to meet their daily needs.

About 30% of respondents mistakenly believed an EV battery pack lacked the capacity to cover their daily-driving habits, according to the study.

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Researchers found that 90% of trips could be completed in vehicles with 200 kilometers (124 miles) of range—well within the capabilities of most current EVs. Even a base Nissan Leaf with the smaller 40-kwh battery pack boasts an EPA-rated 149-mile range, while the Chevrolet Bolt EV has 259 miles of range. And these aren’t exactly high-end models.

Granted, many drivers are likely concerned about the other 10% of trips, particularly long road trips that introduce the variable of public charging infrastructure. While things have vastly improved in recent years, the number of stations and level of reliability still leaves a lot to be desired.

Range anxiety was once seen as one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption, but improvements like bigger battery packs and more-efficient EVs have emerged to address it. MIT researchers even declared range anxiety overblown in 2016. Yet it seems a different kind of psychological barrier may be emerging.

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Redline Edition

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Redline Edition

Providing more concrete information about the capabilities of EVs to reassure drivers could help, Mario Herberz, first author of the study, said in a statement. Experience could help, too. Recent studies, like one from the AAA, found that just owning an EV will cure range anxiety.

It’s worth considering that the charging infrastructure should keep getting better, though. And while we’re not inviting you to test the limits of EV range, know that tests have shown many vehicles can keep going after their range estimates drop to zero.



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