Last Updated on February 21, 2023 by Matt
Electric vehicle owners derive several benefits from driving their vehicles, such as zero gas emissions and low running costs, to name a few. However, their driving experience and behavior are often adversely impacted by the psychological phenomenon known as range anxiety.
Range anxiety refers to a person’s fear of running out of power before making it to a charge point, thereby being prevented from reaching their final destination and ending up stranded. Range anxiety is a common issue that affects both electric vehicle owners and those considering buying this type of vehicle.
Is electric vehicle range anxiety real?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Range anxiety continues to be a major concern for both potential electric drivers and those who already own one. It still troubles many electric vehicle enthusiasts despite the improved range of electric vehicles and the continual increase in the number of physical charge points.
That said, range anxiety has more to do with people’s misconceptions about electric vehicles than the actual range electric vehicles have.
Having researched this topic a lot, I can conclude the following:
People often don’t have electric vehicle range anxiety, they just simply prefer vehicles with internal combustion engines (such as regular gasoline cars) because they are more familiar.
However, the more often electric vehicle drivers, especially new ones, drive their vehicles, the easier it gets for them to get rid of this psychological barrier, provided that they always plan their routes ahead and charge their vehicles when they have the chance.
What causes range anxiety?
One of the main factors that can trigger range anxiety in someone is the concern or fear that they might run out of power and not reach their destination during a trip.
These are some of the other main factors that contribute to range anxiety.
An electric vehicle’s range
What mileage an electric vehicle will cover between charges mainly depends on the battery it runs on.
One thing is for sure – electric vehicles have a way greater range than they did several years ago. Their ranges are often so big that having range anxiety is oftentimes unreasonable.
Also, some modern and expensive vehicles have excellent range. This keeps you from worrying that you might run out of juice and not come across a charging point to charge your vehicle before reaching your destination. This is so no matter if you’re going on a short or long trip.
Additionally, a lot of electric vehicles available on the market are currently in the phase of improving their range to beat the competition, which increases the general range of electric vehicles even further.
Access to charging points
Compared to ICE drivers, electric vehicle drivers are more likely to struggle with range anxiety since public charging points aren’t as prevalent as gas stations.
However, in many countries in the US and Europe, the charging infrastructure has started to improve very quickly in recent years. Many new charging points are being set up on roads to ensure electric vehicle drivers have unlimited access to electricity.
Additionally, electric vehicle drivers can charge their vehicles at home overnight and at work, too (provided that they have level 2 charging there, which will allow them to travel larger distances during the day or the next one).
Lack of electric vehicle roaming services
Electric vehicle roaming can greatly improve electric vehicle drivers’ experience as it allows them to charge their vehicles at charging stations from E-Mobility service providers across locations, regions, and borders when they need to do this while on the road.
Basically, these charging points are found in locations not covered by an electric vehicle driver’s home charging service provider’s network.
However, the problem is that not many providers offer electric vehicle drivers this flexibility. This means that when charging stations are closed or not prevalent, electric vehicle drivers will have trouble finding a charging point where they could charge their vehicles, which, in turn, can contribute to or even increase their range anxiety.
Is electric vehicle range anxiety warranted?
It’s not surprising that some electric vehicle drivers experience range anxiety, especially when they’re newbies. Moreover, according to one survey carried out by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 2022, range anxiety was considered one of the main reasons why people were unlikely to purchase an electric vehicle.
However, range anxiety is oftentimes groundless.
For example, many electric vehicles can travel over 200 miles, which means that an electric vehicle’s range isn’t an issue on short journeys. So, even if you charge your electric vehicle only once a week, this will be enough for making everyday short journeys, like commuting to and back from work.
As for long journeys, considering the fact that the number of charging points is growing, electric vehicle drivers are becoming less concerned about their vehicles’ range. Why? Because they’re aware they’re less likely to find themselves in areas where they wouldn’t have access to a charging station.
Additionally, one study has found that experienced electric vehicle drivers feel range anxiety less than inexperienced ones. The more practical experience you have with electric vehicles, the less you’ll worry that you might run out of power and end up stranded somewhere. This will, in turn, decrease your range anxiety, or even prevent it altogether.
Why should range anxiety not be a problem?
Maybe you’re a new electric vehicle driver and your vehicle’s range concerns you.
Or maybe you’re considering buying an electric vehicle, but range anxiety keeps preventing you from that.
Let’s go over a few reasons why range anxiety shouldn’t really concern you.
Electric vehicles have a sufficient range
Most electric vehicle owners or those considering buying an electric vehicle struggle with range anxiety as they don’t believe the range of electric vehicles is enough for them to arrive at a certain destination. But is this really so?
Electric vehicles had a much shorter range 10 to 15 years ago compared to those produced today.
However, considering the stats presented in one study, which shows that the average American citizen travels 39 miles per day and that electric vehicles have an average range of 200 to 300 miles, we can clearly see that range anxiety shouldn’t really be an issue anymore.
Moreover, even the range of the Nissan LEAF introduced in 2010 would be enough for most to satisfy their everyday commuting needs, such as going to and back from work, seeing friends, or making a trip to the shops.
The number of charging stations is growing globally
Electric vehicle charging stations weren’t that common several years ago, but today they can be found in many locations. Public charging stations, workplaces, roadways, highways, and some parking lots are all places where these charging points exist.
Moreover, to keep up with the increased demand for electric vehicles, governments from all over the world continue to increase the charging network.
You can charge your electric vehicle while it’s parked
Charging an electric vehicle definitely can’t be compared to filling up an ICE vehicle. For example, to fill up a combustion car, you need to go to a gas station, but this isn’t something you need to do when you own an electric vehicle.
The only thing you’re required to do is to get an electric vehicle charger installed in your yard, e.g., your driveway or garage, and you can charge your electric vehicle at home. Charging a vehicle couldn’t get more convenient than this, could it?
An electric vehicle battery lasts longer than you may think
Not only are electric vehicle batteries bigger than they used to be, but they also last around 10 to 20 years. If you purchase an electric vehicle with a 150-mile range, after 5 years of driving, just 17 miles of the entire battery range will be lost.
Moreover, many electric vehicle battery manufacturers provide a 5-to-10-year warranty on their batteries.
Can you avoid experiencing electric vehicle range anxiety?
You might find this surprising, but most electric vehicle drivers agree on the following:
You’re more likely to experience range anxiety in an electric vehicle than in a petrol one. However, you’ll only experience anxiety when driving an electric vehicle if you put yourself in that situation!
It simply means that if you haven’t carefully planned your trip and taken all the necessary measures to prevent yourself from running out of power, you run the risk of experiencing range anxiety. For example, maybe you haven’t considered the following things:
- how many miles you’ll need to travel to get to a certain location and get back
- whether your vehicle’s range is sufficient for you to do that
- where are the available charging stations
Moreover, experiencing range anxiety while driving your electric vehicle may also be your fault if you see a charging station on the road and you don’t stop to charge your vehicle. Skipping charging points increases your risk of experiencing range anxiety, especially when you’re away on a long trip.
Electric vehicles and their range
Let’s briefly talk about the range of electric vehicles. This will help people understand why range anxiety is often unfounded.
What is the average range for electric vehicles?
The considerable improvement in lithium-ion batteries has led to a rise in the range of electric vehicles. For example, today there are a lot of electric vehicles available that can travel between 200 and 300 miles on a single charge. Some of these models include:
- Tesla Model Y
- Tesla Model 3
- Audi e-tron
- Ford F-150 Lightning
- Ford Mustang Mach-E
- Volkswagen ID.4
Of course, the range of the vehicles mentioned above will be affected by driving conditions. However, they’ll be able to complete a higher range than older electric vehicle models.
In most cases, their range will be sufficient for you to satisfy your commuting needs for a week between charges.
What factors impact an electric vehicle’s range?
The range of electric vehicles is impacted by different factors:
- Temperatures (cold temperatures decrease the range of electric vehicles)
- Speed (the quicker you drive, the quicker your electric vehicle’s range reduces)
- Aggressive acceleration
- Harsh braking
- Terrain (driving in steep areas decreases electric vehicles’ range more compared to driving on flat terrain, as it puts more strain on the batteries)
How can you improve your electric vehicle range?
Here are some useful tips on how to get the most range out of your electric vehicle:
- precool or preheat your electric vehicle while you’re still charging it to prevent losing additional energy when driving it later
- drive at sensible speeds
- avoid harsh braking or aggressive acceleration
- maintain correct tire pressure appropriate to each season
How to reduce range anxiety
Here are a few helpful tips on how to reduce your range anxiety.
Buy an electric vehicle with a higher range than you believe you need
Let’s say you often visit your friends that live 200 miles away from you. In this case, getting yourself an electric vehicle that goes 250 miles between charges will do the trick. If you have some extra money to spend, get one that can go 300 miles.
Such a vehicle will help keep your mind at peace as it will give you flexibility in many different situations, such as:
- if there’s road construction or an accident and you need to take a detour
- when the weather is freezing
- if there’s extra weight put on your vehicle
Plan your drive
Planning things out and checking where there are available charging stations can make your trip stress-free when you’re far from home.
Although a lot of electric vehicles provide automatic route planning, I still recommend that you check where you need to stop and charge your electric vehicle prior to taking a trip as well as during it.
Using apps such as A Better Routeplanner, EV Connect Driver app, and Zap-Map is a great way to drive your electric vehicle without worrying and keep your mind at ease. These apps will help you find the charge points you need easily.
Additionally, you can also use apps such as Plug Share to check if a charging point is working or not.
Always be prepared
Before making a long trip, make sure your electric vehicle is fully charged. Additionally, see if there are available charging stations or home charging at your final destination to charge your electric vehicle before you hit the road to get back home.
Charge your electric vehicle whenever you have the chance during your trip
Be it a toilet or coffee break, use any opportunity to charge your electric vehicle during your trip.
Install a charging station at home
If you can afford to install a home charging station, don’t hesitate to do that as soon as possible. Charging your electric vehicle every night before going to bed will keep you from experiencing range anxiety. Moreover, it means you won’t need to hunt for charge points the next day.
Keep in mind that lower temperatures equal a lower range
Cold weather greatly affects batteries in electric vehicles. So, always keep in mind that you won’t be able to drive your electric vehicle as far as you’d want when it’s cold.
But there’s a solution to this problem and that is getting yourself an electric vehicle that comes with heat pumps. Driving this type of electric vehicle in cold temperatures is a good way to combat range anxiety, as it prevents the vehicle’s range from decreasing between charges.
Get an electric vehicle that provides scheduled departure times
Not only can getting such an electric vehicle help you avoid range anxiety, but it can also make your entire trip more enjoyable, especially during cold weather.
All you need to do is keep your electric vehicle in a garage and use the schedule departure time feature. For example, if you typically leave for work at 7 a.m. every day, you can use this feature and have the battery warmed up and the climate system or seat heater set to your desire.
The good thing is that your electric vehicle won’t drain its battery since it will do all of the things mentioned above by using electricity from your house. And this definitely leads to an improved range efficiency.
Be a considerate electric vehicle owner
When you notice that a charging point is not functioning, call a person of authority in to come and fix the problem. Oftentimes, resolving such issues takes several minutes and the charging point will work again soon.