Fuel Gauge

Fuel Gauge

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Range anxiety—that's the worry that people feel as they approach an electric car's driving range—has long been a bit unbecoming to discuss among fierce electric-vehicle advocates; but looking out at the general market, it's one of the most significant barriers against widespread electric-vehicle adoption.

As we get past the first early adopters—the Who Killed The Electric Car? types—who would buy a plug-in vehicle with the blink of an eye, EV manufacturers have to not only try to pack as much range as they can in their vehicles; they also have to be mindful of it in the way they'll market them.

Now General Motors has filed for a trademark on the term—assumedly to use it against vehicles that are purely battery-powered.

GM's filing says that the purpose is “promoting public awareness of electric vehicle capabilities.”

The 2011 Nissan Leaf, the Volt's most formidable plug-in rival, also to see its first deliveries by the end of the year, can go up to 100 miles per charge. While the more costly Volt, with its range-extending four-cylinder engine, can go up to 40 miles per charge on battery power alone, after that its gasoline engine starts to power the electric drivetrain and it can go another 300 miles or so.

What GM needs is an effective campaign to help justify why the Volt costs so much more than the Leaf.

It might be possible to trademark the term, but we have to question GM's motives. While electric-car early adopters will likely have a handle on how to manage range, it also seems entirely possible that using negative tactics like this, as well as exploiting fear of range anxiety, could very well backfire on GM—leading shoppers to bypass plug-in vehicles completely.

Or, cynical as we are, perhaps its very filing was intended as a sort of backhanded marketing move?

How do you see range anxiety being used in a marketing campaign: A Volt Dance that mentions range anxiety? One involving cowboys and Home on the Range? Let us know.