Is range anxiety a thing of the past?
Range anxiety. A term recently added to the Oxford English dictionary and defined as ‘worry that an electric vehicle will not be capable of completing intended journeys (or of reaching a specific destination) before its battery loses power.’
Basically, the worry you will run out of juice before reaching your destination!
And it was a real concern. Early adopters of electric vehicles will have almost certainly experienced this. A lack of public charging infrastructure around the UK meant that a serious amount of planning was required, unless you were lucky enough to have a home charge point already installed. Plus, earlier models had significantly lower ranges to begin with.
But with the ban on new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 in the UK fast approaching, more and more of us will be looking to make the switch.
So, can we adopt EVs in 2023 and not have to worry about range? Or will new EV drivers still experience this?
Let’s find out!
What causes range anxiety?
Range anxiety is still one of the major concerns for new or prospective EV drivers. And it was certainly a concern for me.
The fear of breaking down on a busy motorway without power (or snacks!) was a real fear. Plus, living in a flat in London without access to a home charge point – it certainly was a barrier to adoption. But luckily for me, working for an electric car company I was fortunate enough to borrow a Fiat 500e for a few weeks for work. So, I thought, this is the perfect chance to test out if it would work for my lifestyle and my home situation.
So, what causes this fear? Well, a few things, I think.
A few photos from the time I borrowed the Fiat 500e – she’s a beauty!
1. A lack of understanding about range
We often get requests from customers looking for cars with real world ranges of over 300 miles. Whilst this would be great, it usually isn’t necessary (plus it costs more!).
According to latest figures, the average punter only drives about 20 miles each day(2). In a Fiat 500e for example, that’s just 5 minutes of charge at a rapid charger.
So, it’s important to work out how much you actually travel on average before deciding how much range you need – it may be much less than you think!
P.S it’s also worth bearing in mind, that it’s not all about range. Charging speed is also important – if you can charge up really quickly, then how much range you have left might not seem so scary after-all.
2. A seemingly low number of public chargers
I think that this was once true, but there has been huge amounts of growth and investment here in the UK. According to Zap Map, there are now (as of February 2023) nearly 39,000 charge points across the UK, at 23,000 charge locations. A 33% increase from February 2022(1). There are now more charge points than petrol stations!
When I drove the Fiat 500e for a few weeks I had no issues finding public charge points. I used Zap Map (this was pre-elmoCharge!) to locate nearby chargers. However, I am fortunate living in London with an abundance of choice.
But there’s no denying, we’ve still got a long way to go! Particularly if we are to meet demand when the ban on new petrol and diesel sales comes into play.
Read our blog for more information on the current state of the public charging network.
3. The Press
The press love to hate electric cars. The papers are often splashed with horror stories of electric car drivers stranded at charge points, with long queues. They have certainly added fuel to the fire when it comes to adopting EVs, but are they completely true?
An article in 2021 by CleanTechnica claims that the New York Times slam EVs becuse fossil fuels interests pay it to publish misinformation.
Our best advice? Try it for yourself! Perhaps on a subscription (hint hint!)
How to avoid or alleviate range anxiety?
1. Plan ahead
Plan, plan, plan. Yes, this was one of the biggest adjustments I experienced when driving electric. I had to think before travelling, and ensure I was fully charged before making a long journey. You also have to map out your journey, whether you’ll need to stop to re-charge and where on route you can stop. A lot of the newer electric cars have features built into the infotainment systems to help plan your journey, with re-charge stops on the way.
I had to drive all our event gear to Fully Charged Live in Farnborough last March – 44 miles from my home and I needed to get there on time for set up. With this in mind, I had to be ultra-organised, so charged up the evening before in preparation. I used Zap Map to find my nearest public charge point (there was one available just a road from mine), headed over and plugged in. Two hours later (it was a slow charger), I walked back and collected the car. Yes, it was a bit of extra hassle, and yes it took time but without a home charge point, this was my only option. Plus with the slow charger, I saved money (it only cost me £4.97)
2. Get a home charge point, if you can
Yes, we know this isn’t always possible or affordable, but if it is, it will really help! Home charging is convenient, efficient and can be cheaper depending on your tariff. Most modern chargers allow you to control it from an app on your phone – so you can charge when it’s cheapest.
To help our subscribers, we’ve teamed up with Easee and AES to provide a home charge point offering at a reduced rate. You could get yourself a stylish home charge point from £949* with standard installation. A high upfront cost, yes, but a longer-term gain and financial savings. It’s definitely worth considering if you can.
I live in a ground floor flat in London – without access to a home charge point. But friends and family who are lucky enough to have a home charger have told me just how convenient they are. Every time you’re parked up outside and need a little juice before your next trip – simply put it in and off you charge. No need to find a charger, and you can even set it charging from your phone whilst sat in bed!
3. Use an App
There are loads of great Apps out there to help you plan your trip with confidence. Why not check out our 12 best EV Apps blog which goes into a little bit more detail about some of the Apps available. Most of them allow you to see if the charge point is in use, watch your charge status remotely, or report if a charger is broken or damaged – sharing is caring guys!
If you’re an elmo subscriber, you’ll get access to elmoCharge – our public charge offering in partnership with Paua. The Paua App lets you see all available charge points in the UK (and helpfully takes you there using Google Maps), tells you how quickly your car is charging and lets you track your total spend. It makes charging on the go a joy!
4. Be efficient
Use opportunities where you can to charge up. Take coffee and toilet breaks as chances to top up, or if you’re stopping over at a friend’s house – plug in if there’s a charger available. It’s all about changing your mind-set and I can speak from experience – you do get used to it quickly!
When using my Fiat 500e, I learnt that I could charge for free at the office. So, when I needed to drop off some larger items and therefore drive, I made sure to make the most of free charging. We’ve spoken to a few of our customers who are lucky enough to have this option too. It’s a great way to charge for free (or very cheap!) whilst making sure you have enough charge for future journeys whilst you’re simply parked up and not using the car.
5. Drive better
Electric cars are fitted with regenerative braking to conserve energy and increase range. It transforms energy lost during braking and transforms it back into electricity. Most EVs will do this automatically to some degree.
Some cars feature ‘one-pedal’ driving or ‘eco’ modes. When applied, you only need use the acceleration pedal to control the car, as soon as you release the pedal, the car will start to slow and eventually come to a full stop. In this way, you can charge up the battery, albeit small amounts – but every little helps!
I was rushing to visit a friend with 30% juice. I knew that I could easily make the journey without running out, but I never like to let it get too low. Switched on ‘Sherpa’ mode in the Fiat and drove watching the charge level stay roughly the same throughout the 7 mile journey. Every time I went downhill or released the acceleration, the blue bar to signal ‘charge’ would go up. I knew the car was charging itself. A fun little experiment to see how ‘little’ charge you can use for a trip.
So, is range anxiety a thing of the past?
Well, the jury is still out! And I guess it does depend, person-to-person. But there are certainly a few factors that will help abolish range anxiety:
- Electric cars have better range. The first commercial electric car, the Nissan Leaf, had a range of just 109 real world miles (enough to make anyone anxious!). Nowadays, its not uncommon for modern EVs to have ranges exceeding 250 real world miles between charges, some even over 400 (check out our long range article to see some of the top contenders)! And these figures will only keep on getting better…
- The Government is heavily investing in charging infrastructure. The UK Government has committed to £1.6 billion to invest in the EV charging infrastructure, with around 300,000 public chargers expected to be available by 2030.
For me on a personal level, it is a thing of the past. In the short time I spent with my little Fiat 500e, I learnt how to adapt to living with an EV. At the start, yes I did feel a sense of worry about charging up next. And yes I did have to spend a little more time, taking the car to be charged up. But after a few weeks of smart driving (using eco-modes) and pre-planning – I was able to comfortably travel around without any range anxiety.
For others, in different circumstances it may be a different picture. Perhaps in more remote areas of the country, EV drivers still struggle to find a convenient charger if a home charger isn’t an option. But this is getting better every year with new technologies being developed to make charging more accessible.
I believe range anxiety for the most will be a thing of the past in the very near future.
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