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Range anxiety: realistic concern or modern myth? 

Consumer concern regarding availability of EV charging infrastructure may not be necessary, argues Mathew Desmond

The concept of range anxiety—the fear of running out of power while driving an electric vehicle (EV) and being unable to find a charging station—has been cited by the automotive industry as one of the key barriers to widespread EV adoption. Concern around availability of charging infrastructure has made many consumers hesitant to transition to a fully electric model.

Automotive World Magazine – March 2023

However, is range anxiety a realistic concern, or is it a modern myth? In recent years, the US government has provided a massive injection of funding into the development of new charging infrastructure throughout the country. Most recently, the US signed a bipartisan bill which included US$7.5bn to build a nationwide network of EV charging stations to increase charging accessibility and promote long-distance travel.

While this investment is promising, it will take some time before new charging infrastructure is widely available. With that in mind, the industry can pivot to three other key issues that are keeping customers reluctant to take the plunge into the world of EVs.

Learning to plan for EV travel

The concern over having enough battery life to travel from point A to point B can be daunting for drivers. However, those interested in purchasing an EV have a tremendous amount of information regarding charging options—and how to calculate range—at the tip of their fingers today.

Mercedes EV charging
Mercedes-Benz plans to launch a global network of high-power EV chargers

Consumers can research whether they have charging options where they reside, or if they will need to source external options for fuelling up. For consumers that do not have access to charging at home, drivers can map out their daily route and the infrastructure in the surrounding area—where they work, the grocery store, the gym, etc.—and compare that to the vehicle’s driving range at full charge. There are more options today than in the past, with EV charging apps connecting drivers to stations quickly and efficiently. By understanding their daily route and vehicle driving range, consumers can plan charging times in accordance with other weekly tasks, increasing the convenience of public charging away from home.

A caveat is that consumers planning a long trip should map out their route ahead of time to ensure that there are chargers available to accommodate the range requirements.

Affordability concerns and managing price points

 While American consumers’ willingness to adopt EVs is growing, there remains hesitation around EV pricing, which can be higher than similar internal combustion engine vehicles. As it stands, the most affordable EV models have the lowest mile ranges, while vehicles in the mid-range and luxury categories offer more miles on a single charge, due to higher battery capacity. For this reason, the conversation has shifted away from range anxiety and towards a singular question: what is the price point a consumer can afford to get the maximum amount of charge?

Charging app
Charging apps allow drivers to find the nearest charging station, search for availability across sites, and pay for their charge

The current economy has pushed EVs to the top of the list for purchase consideration due to the hike in gasoline prices. For prospective EV customers looking to save money, investing in an EV could be a smart choice to reduce variable costs that come from fluctuating fossil fuel prices. The public sector has also entered the conversation, with several EV automakers offering options for federal government tax rebates of as much as US$7,500 for a new EV purchase, which can help to reduce the purchase price.

The education gap between consumers and automakers

Key to the resistance to EV adoption is the lack of familiarity of consumers with all aspects of owning and driving an EV. Most drivers today have only experienced gas-powered vehicles and are not familiar with the basics of what it means to own an electric car. The average driver is typically unaware of how to find chargers, how to fuel an EV, what the real fuel cost savings are, and more.

One way to close this gap is for the public and private sectors to prioritise education. Informing consumers about available government incentives—such as federal and state rebates offered to EV owners—as well as educating them about the different types of charging options, states and highways with the most infrastructure to charge a vehicle, and the savings that are possible, can provide them with accurate information on a large scale. By providing this level of education, consumers’ knowledge will increase and more will be likely to approach an EV as a viable transportation option.

At this point in the EV journey, there’s enough information to help consumers focus on learning as much as possible about their local options for EV purchasing and charging, so range anxiety can indeed become a ‘myth’. With the proper research and planning—and a little education from those who know best—consumers will be fully capable of making an anxiety-free transition to the new wave of sustainable transportation.

About the author: Mathew Desmond is Industry Solutions Architect at Capgemini Americas 

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