Interesting Study Shows Range Anxiety Does Not Involve Rational Thinking


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The range indicator on your dashboard display of your new electric vehicle displays a remaining range of 93 miles.  You can feasibily cover 93 miles before requiring a recharge.  How far are you willing to drive before calling it quits in fear of running out of juice?

Surprisinly, many drivers in a study conducted by Aerovironment were not willing to travel more than half that distance.  The drivers, stating they were confident in the range listed by the vehicle, always wanted a considerable amount of reserve energy left in their vehicle.  Like the driver of a conventional car that never lets the gas tank drop below half, the EV drivers were unwillingly to push their car to the limits.

Aerovironment conducted this study years ago, but the results are beoming increasingly important now as EVs begin to enter production.  The study, conducted with Tokyo Electric Power Co. followed and supported a small fleet of EVs in Japan.

Initially, Aerovironment installed a single fast charging station well within the range of the owners of the EVs.  The EV in use had a 93 mile range, but drivers rarely left the area closest to the charging station, some staying within a 10 mile radius of the charger.

When a second charging station was introduced in the project, drivers venture much further out.  The second charger was placed within the comfort zone of the drivers at a distance of about half the range of the vehicle from the first charging unit.  Though the second charging station increased the comfort zone of the drivers allowing them to driver further, an unexpected situation arose.

The second charging station made the drivers comfortable to drive further, but it was rarely used for charging, most drivers still used the first charging station.  Aerovironment had predicted that the addition of a second charging station would give drivers twice the range allowing them to venture up to 180 miles from home, but few drove further than the location of the second charging unit, approximately 40 miles from most of the EV owners homes.

The data from the research suggests what most people already believe about electric vehicles.  There must be a highly developed charging infrastructure for people to buy and drive EVs and this infrastructure is the only way to alleviate range anxiety. 

Aerovironment actually suggests that due to the findings of this conclusive study, for buyers to purchase and drive EV without a though of range anxiety, there must be 1 charging station for every EV on the road.  They suggest that in the next few years we will have 1 million EVs on the roads and a desperate need for at least 1 million charging stations.  Initially, EV drivers will be on a constant lookout for a charging station even if there range is still high on the vehicle.

Similar to a family trip where dad announces rest stop ahead, next one 37 miles, should we stop?  EV drivers may see signs stating how far the next charging station is away from them, and immediately stop and charge just for reassurance.

Source:  Wards Auto (Login required)

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