Range Anxiety – driving distance, charging time and frequency
Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Range Anxiety. A new term evolved from the EV revolutions 20+ years ago <1>.
Every day, Australians drive an average of just 34km daily only <2> for passenger vehicles. Most people around the globe go an average of 25km – 45km daily for all kinds of cars. Nowadays, EV's driving range is between 250km - 500km. Is this still not enough?
Well, how did "Range Anxiety" come about?
We were expecting technological advancement would bring improvements in every aspect, no fallback. Fortunately, EVs brought us not only a better driving experience but also emission reduction. Otherwise, the EV industry may have been killed again, like 20 years ago.
It is a massive pivot on the transportation and energy sectors. Many people are not comfortable and trying to avoid the changes to protect their investments.
Who Gave This Name?
I don't blame their actions. I think it sped up the EV revolutions.
The term came from the General Motors EV1 electric cars project between 1997 to 2001 and was abandoned, where the EV's driving range was only about 60-80km. In 2010, General Motors even filed to trademark this phrase, stating it was for "promoting public awareness of electric vehicle capabilities".
“Range Anxiety” – is the combination of the battery size, the efficiency of the EV, and the outdoor charging infrastructure available.
Most People Don't Feel The Anxiety Already
As the table above shows, EVs from 10 years ago had a short driving range, resulting in "Range Anxiety". Nowadays, EVs, except for the charging time, are getting equivalent to a modern ICE vehicle. The "Range Anxiety" effects are not significant anymore. With the speed of development of charging infrastructure, battery technology, and increase in EVs efficiency, the phrase "Range Anxiety" impacts should be going away in the next few years.
If an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car driving range was only 250km and took 30mins to refuel each time at the petrol station. Would you still have "Range Anxiety"? While many people can do recharging at home, "Range Anxiety" is only a tiny step back. With batteries and charging technology improving and much better than ICEs performance, why can't we take a small sacrifice to compensate for emission reduction, the CO2?
When You Need A Recharge
Although the effects are leaving soon, their psychological effects will stay for a bit longer. In particular, the groups of people that,
i. who lived in apartments
ii. who do not have direct access to home charging, that is, street parking
iii. who do frequent long-haul driving of over 100km per day
The first two groups, i and ii, should not be difficult to change. Once they have tasted the latest improvements and adapted the new driving habits, this psychological barrier should disappear.
To understand it further, I created a spreadsheet to evaluate its relationship with solar in the equation. Adding solar-assisted on your EV will likely reduce your charging frequency while increasing your driving range, and the results are inspiring.
For example, a Tesla Model 3 with a 460km driving range equipped with a 900W removable solar system (assume a daily average of 5 peak sun hours), with average daily driving mileage of 35km, would result in 4 recharges only compared to, 28 recharges per year without solar system. Each recharge can last roughly 2.8 months and close to 3000km of range.
Another example, a Nissan Leaf with only 220km of driving range with similar daily mileage. After installing the same 900W solar system results in only 13 recharges pre-year from 58 recharges per year. Each recharge can last roughly one month and over 1000km of range. It's worth noting that with less average daily driving mileage, your EV may become "Off-grid".
Model Daily Driving Mileage Recharge Frequency Driving Range
Tesla Model 3 25km NO RECHARGE Required UNLIMITED
Tesla Model 3 35km Only 4 per year from 28 3000km
Tesla Model 3 45km Only 12 per year from 36 1345km
Nissan Leaf 25km NO RECHARGE Required UNLIMITED
Nissan Leaf 35km Only 13 per year from 58 1000km
Nissan Leaf 45km Only 29 per year from 75 564km
Smaller Battery, Reduce Price for Electric Car
One of the exciting facts brought in by the solar-assisted EV is that it may also reduce EV's price by reducing its battery size. It means that based on your daily commuting habit, your average daily driving range, you can choose different sizes of batteries, depending on the frequency you are willing to recharge your EV. Hence, a smaller battery results in more affordable EVs, or to become "Off-Grid" by increasing battery size.
What if you can pick a cheap, brand new Tesla Model 3 with just less driving range than a Nissan Leaf with the solar option? Well, Tesla had been selling a software-restricted, "low driving range" Model 3 of only 150km in Canada so that they can lower the price to qualify for the Canadian Government EV subsidies <3>. This Model 3 only costs CAN$44,999.00 from CAN$55,000.00.
For Frequent Long Distance Driving
For group iii, which does frequent long-haul driving of over 100km per day, the only group would still have the "Range Anxiety" effects in the future. PHEV would be a better choice for them. However, with better travel planning and charging infrastructure, a BEV is still a good option. In fact, a PHEV requires daily recharging to its tiny battery to be beneficial.
Wait a sec. Isn't that similar to the "Range Anxiety" that we know?
What's more, don't they have a battery that needs to be plug-in recharged daily, which can be recharged by solar.