Not too many years ago, the term range anxiety might pertain to a golfer who’s nervous on a driving range or rancher uncertain about spending time on an open range.
But with an increasing number of auto manufacturers offering electric options, range anxiety is a major reason why car buyers have been wary of switching from gas powered vehicles. It’s the fear of running out of power and stuck miles from the nearest charging station.
According to a survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association, the industry trade organization in Arlington, Va., 71 percent of respondents said range anxiety is a concern when considering purchasing an electric vehicle.
And it’s warranted. With more than a dozen mainstream manufacturers offering the electric-only vehicles, mileage range varies from 11 to 265. The average daily mileage per car in the United States is 36.5 miles for urban-based vehicles and 48.6 miles for rural-based vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Transport.
But range anxiety concerns shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If you’re considering an electric vehicle, consider the opinion of John Kalb.
“Range anxiety is only a pre-purchase condition, once you drive for a few weeks any range anxiety is replaced by range confidence,” said Kalb, founder of EVChargingPros, an independent electric vehicle charging consulting service in Novato, Ca.
“Once you drive an EV for any length of time you know the boundaries. The other reality is people are now buying the EV that matches their driving patterns.”
For current EV owners, improving the driving experience is not too dissimilar from gas-powered driver consumers seeking improvement. Common sense, preparation and more conservative driving are key. Consider:
1. Planning and familiarizing trips with charging stations locations via a smartphone application (PlugShare and CarStation, as examples) is an ideal way to start an EV drive. In addition to charging station locations, many EV apps feature images and customer reviews.
2. Speed kills in many ways, including draining electric batteries faster than advertised rage. Maintaining a steady speed and abiding by speed limits (or going a little slower than the limit) will help charge range.
3. Know your route. Gas-powered cars are more likely run out of gas when the driver gets lost. Ditto for EV drivers and electricity. A map, smartphone or navigation system can help prevent wrong turns and thus alleviate battery drain and range anxiety.
4. Electric vehicles generally require less maintenance the gas vehicles. But properly inflating and rotating tires as well as following the vehicle’s manual recommendations in other in areas is paramount to a safe, anxiety-free drive.
Article Last Updated: April 23, 2014.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.