Why It’s Time To Overcome Your EV Range Anxiety – Ars Technica

Electric vehicle charging

Electric vehicle batteries are getting bigger and the typical range between charges is getting bigger.

The change is partly a response to ‘range anxiety’ – the fear of being stranded because EV batteries don’t have enough power to get to the next charging station – an idea so familiar in electric vehicle discussions that it was spoofed in a Ram Super Bowl ad last month.

But that worry is unwarranted for a large portion of EV customers, according to research from the University of Delaware, published Feb. 21 in the journal Energies.

Willett Kempton, a professor at the University of Delaware, and his team looked at driving data from 333 gas-powered vehicles over a year in the Atlanta area, then created a model to see how well various EV options would been able to meet the needs of these drivers.

They found that 37.9% of drivers could have made all of their trips for the year using a small electric vehicle like a Nissan Leaf as their primary vehicle and charging at places like home, work, or wherever the vehicle was parked and charging. was available. The hypothetical vehicle had a 40 kilowatt-hour battery and a range of 143 miles.

In other words, more than a third of drivers were able to meet 100% of their needs with an electric vehicle with a relatively small battery and did not need to make additional trips for the sole purpose of recharge.

Keep in mind that drivers who cannot meet their needs in this scenario are not stuck on the side of the road indefinitely. They just need to find charging options outside of their usual routines, which usually means stopping at fast-charging stations on long journeys.

I asked Kempton what he considered to be the main takeaways from this research. One, he said, is that small batteries can meet the needs of a large portion of drivers.

“Smaller batteries have all sorts of advantages,” he said, including cost and weight, not to mention a lower carbon footprint because they require less electricity and fewer metals like lithium. And Kempton added another benefit — “you reduce pedestrian injuries” — because the cars weigh much less than models with large batteries, which decreases the severity of collisions with people and other vehicles.

An example of the price gap: The 2023 Leaf has a projected range of 143 miles for the entry-level model and a base price of $28,040; and the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E has a projected range of 224 miles for the entry-level model and a base price of $45,995. Prices do not include tax credits.

About the only time the longer range is essential is for cross-country trips, when a vehicle with a larger battery will need fewer stops. But car trips across the country are rare for most drivers.

“It’s cheaper to rent a car for two days (per year) than to spend 10,000,000 on a much bigger battery,” Kempton said.

The co-authors, which also included researchers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and Georgia Tech, examined scenarios involving electric vehicles with different battery sizes and charging systems. They found that longer range vehicles would rarely, and for some drivers never, need to use the upper limits of their range.

The document helps confirm some things we knew or at least strongly suspected. Just as drivers don’t need gigantic pickup trucks to do their shopping, drivers don’t need a 300-mile range when the vast majority of their trips are 20 miles or less. (Cars and light trucks in the United States are used for one hour a day and travel 35 miles, according to averages compiled by the Federal Highway Administration.)

I reached out to Stephanie Searle of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a world leader in electric vehicle research, to get her thoughts on the paper.

She said the study’s analysis is simple but effective and brings out some important points.

“A lot of news lately has been around the ever-widening EV range, but the fact is that if a lower range car will do, it will be better for the customer’s wallet and for the environment” , she said in an email. “The lower range means smaller batteries, which reduces the upstream environmental impact of mining and battery production. Smaller batteries also mean more efficient electric vehicles that cause fewer emissions (from greenhouse gases) from electricity production.

The log’s driving data comes from a wealth of information collected from 269 Atlanta-area households beginning in 2004. Drivers agreed to have GPS devices in all vehicles in their household. The results were terabytes of information that have since been used by several transportation researchers.

He said the results show the potential demand for low-cost electric vehicles with small batteries, a part of the market that has few options in the United States.

“That kind of data allows (automakers) to say, ‘OK, there’s actually a market segment here,'” he said.

But having low-cost electric vehicles is only part of the equation. Another big issue is having access to adequate charging, which is a challenge for many people in urban areas who rely on on-street parking near their homes. Kempton said policymakers need to think about how to place chargers where people park at night or it won’t be practical for someone to own a vehicle with a small battery.

The most important point, he said, is that drivers need to start understanding the practical differences between electric vehicles and gasoline-powered vehicles.

While range anxiety is something a future EV owner might think about, a real EV owner almost never thinks about charging because it’s just plugging in at home, says Willett – and he knows from experience as a Mach-E owner.

“Three hundred and sixty days a year you don’t even think about (range issues) because you wake up and the tank is full, you know? Every morning you have a full tank,” he said. declared.

This story originally appeared on Inside Climate News.

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