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Electric cars have a big range fear problem – and that could be the solution

As I was driving the streets of Austin, Texas in a Mustang Mach-E, I turned to my husband and told him I was uncomfortable. As much as I enjoyed depressing the accelerator, the battery gauge on my right kept crawling down, which gave me this nervousness.

I knew exactly what that was: it’s what experts in the EV business are afraid of outreach. It’s a feeling that the battery might run out before we reach our destination. He asked me to think about whether it was more stressful than worrying about an almost empty gas tank.

I thought about it but contradicted his claim. There is already a nationwide filling station infrastructure in case I run out of gas. Also, a call to AAA could get my tank some fuel. Going out of power in the middle of the freeway would essentially require expensive hauling. But even then, is my hesitation really based on any evidence?

“While the picture of your electric vehicle simply dying when the battery runs down to 0% is frightening, it practically never happens in real life,” said John Voelcker, an independent analyst and author of several publications, in an interview with Tom’s Guide. “I mean, honestly, when was the last time you ran out of steam and your car just died on the side of the road?”

I can’t remember ever running out of gas, even though I sometimes shaved the edge thinly. But I rarely worried as I always knew that a gas station was within walking distance. E-charging stations, less.

“Range anxiety is a real thing because even though studies show that most people drive less than 50 miles a day, we want to know that we can go anywhere we want,” says Chad Kirchner, editor of EV Pulse, in an interview with Tom’s Guide. “In a way, it’s like owning a watch that is water resistant up to 1,000 meters, even though the person who owns it may not be able to swim.”

Or like people who buy trucks that can pull up to 10,000 pounds when the chances of pulling a trailer full of thoroughbred horses aren’t there. It’s nice to have the opportunity.

A few weeks ago, the automotive website The Drive asked its readers what it takes to buy just electric vehicles. The vast majority of the more than 300 comments said that infrastructure and fast charging were their most important criteria. And while most people drive less than 80 miles a day, some were hoping for a range of over 1,000 miles. The industry is now expanding to meet these demands.

Ford just announced its new all-electric F-150 Lightning, and the automaker announced that it will be available with either an estimated range of 230 miles or an extended battery with a range of 300 miles. These range estimates are based on the driver having 1,000 pounds of material in the pickup bed. For fleet managers with short-haul needs, that’s more than enough per day.

“We did a lot of research to determine the best range for this vehicle and found that people didn’t want to buy more batteries than they needed,” says Linda Zhang, chief nameplate engineer at Ford Oriented towards the needs of the customer who knows his range every day. “

That may be, but electrification will only grow in popularity from here; Companies like GM, Hyundai and Audi are among those who want to convert their fleets to electric by 2035. And as more drivers switch to electric vehicles, there will inevitably be situations where people are stranded on the side of the road.

Companies like Blink Charging are developing creative ways to alleviate the fear that electric cars will run out of juice in uncomfortable places. As an example, Blink recently announced a partnership with EV Transportation Services (evTS) of Boston to sell mobile charging stations. In principle, Blink will provide the charging equipment with the FireFly service vehicle from evTS; Imagine a pickup truck with a huge battery in the rear. Together, these two elements provide the electrically equivalent service of an AAA driver, saving you from the curb with a can of gasoline.

It seems that this could be the future of roadside assistance for companies like AAA to market EV driver services. Fleet vehicles could be equipped with blink batteries that scurry from vehicle to vehicle within a prescribed distance and allow recharging.

Blink Senior VP Sales and Business Development Mike Battaglia believes trust in public EV infrastructure is growing every day. Blink, which has been in the market since 2009, is well positioned for introducing electric vehicles as a mainstream choice, and not just for environmentally conscious fringe groups.

“I’ve spent 15 years in the auto market and as time went on it became increasingly clear that every automaker had a plan to bring electric vehicles to market,” says Battaglia. “They don’t just bang on the political market basis every four to eight years; It’s a long-term strategy. “

Flashing charging

(Image credit: Kevin McCauley)

Consumer confidence is critical to the overall success of EV adoption. According to a study by researchers at the University of California-Davis of more than 4,000 plug-in electric vehicle owners, about 20% have given up ownership and chosen a gas-powered model. What UC Davis found was that the owners found it inconvenient to recharge; This was especially true if the owner did not have access to level 2 (240 volts) charging at home.

Battaglia envisages the proliferation of charging stations that will make charging networks much more visible across the country.

“The strategy is to put these bases wherever people stop and park for a while, like a mall, gym or restaurant,” says Battaglia. “Mentally, the customer will feel more comfortable knowing that their car is charging while they are doing other activities, which is very different from looking for a gas station and having to stop and pump.”

Flashing charging

(Image credit: Kevin McCauley)

As with any tech product, loading is improving on both sides, and it seems it won’t be long before we can juicing much faster than today.

But the range fear that I felt in Mach-E should not be dismissed out of hand. Even if it’s irrational, this feeling I’ve had is going to make EV adoption difficult for a mass market audience. But it’s all a matter of perspective. President Biden’s infrastructure spending plan, if passed, would invest $ 15 billion in charging stations with hopes of reaching 500,000 by 2030.

Of course, Kirchner is of the opinion that customers are still evaluating the charging network for electric vehicles as it is now and not what it could be.

“The charging network for electric vehicles is the worst than ever today,” he says. “As it grows and the charging speeds increase, the fear of range becomes less and less.”

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