To a consumer who is considering purchasing an EV, range anxiety is a real thing, even though the name may suggest it is psychological. Moreover, range anxiety has multiple dimensions.
People use cars for three types of trips: Commute, excursions (i.e., short errands), and long trips. Let’s take a close look at each.
For a daily commuter, she mainly cares about: “Every morning, do I have enough charge to go to work and back?”. To quell that type of range anxiety, the key is home/work charging infrastructure (HWCI). Whether it is through a home charger, or a workplace charger, or some other public charging network, as long as consumers can have reliable HWCI (we are talking about close to 100% reliable!) which can cover its daily usage, consumers will have no range anxiety in this aspect.
For those relatively short trips – grocery runs, shuttling kids, going on a date, etc.. – most EV users likely will not have range anxiety as long as they know there is enough charge to make the round trip. However, for the peace of mind, consumers need to have the assurance that they can get charged up when they want to. This is where public charging infrastructure (PCI) starts to matter.
Longer and out-of-town trips are driving most of the range anxiety in the EV world. The truth is the number 1 obstacle to overcome in consumers’ EV purchase decision processes is being stranded when taking one of those long trips. Of course, this is also where public charging infrastructure (PCI) matters most.
There are two types of range anxieties here:
(1) Not being able to reach a charger while on the road. This can be formulated the following
Remaining miles < Distance to the nearest charger
(2) Once reaching a charger, EV drivers resent the long waiting time to get a sufficient charge, which can be summarized as the following:
Waiting time + Charging time > Necessary sojourn time
Here I call “necessary sojourn time” because drivers most likely to utilize the time to take a bio-break as well as eat and drink. Such a time vary by location and by people, but it is important to point out that a reasonable benchmark is that people usually take at least a hour break for each long of driving. Therefore as long as EV charging time and waiting time is less than one hour, it should not cause too much resentment.
How to Solve EV Range Anxiety?
Having analyzed the two types of range anxiety and summarized them as mathematical inequalities, we can actually prescribe several key drivers that can alleviate and eventually eliminate such anxieties:
(a) A more comprehensive public charging network with denser coverage
(b) Longer range for EV (i.e., larger EV batteries and/or higher battery density)
(c) Faster charging technologies
Now let’s see how these factors will collective alleviate range anxiety. First, recall the first type:
Remaining miles (b↑) < Distance to the nearest charger (a↓)
As EV has longer ranges, and charger more ubiquitous, then this type of anxiety disappears.
Now the second type:
Waiting time (a↓) + Charging time (c↓) > Necessary sojourn time
As public charging infrastructure becomes more available and charging technologies advances, this type will be less of an issue.
In my next post, I will try to further develop this into an Excel model. Stay tuned.