Eliminating Range Anxiety

November 7, 2022

Be Pre­pared.

The Scouts mot­to can be applied in so many areas of life, maybe most impor­tant­ly with trav­el­ing or the unex­pect­ed in emer­gency. Fac­ing emer­gen­cies with an elec­tric car is often an adjust­ment com­pared to a gas car. True, there are not real­ly any alter­na­tives for an EV such as a jer­ry can of gas, but there are strate­gies that can come to your aid in a low charge expe­ri­ence with an EV.

First of all, a dri­ver can make changes to max­i­mize a low state of charge in an EV. Speed is the num­ber one thing to mon­i­tor. Hav­ing a lead foot is the fastest way to drain a bat­tery! Strain­ing the elec­trons to move that heavy vehi­cle faster than high­way lim­its eats more pow­er than any­thing else you could do. Sim­ply going 5 miles under the high­way lim­it can extend your range by 10% or more in most cas­es. And the real­i­ty is, speed­ing only shaves 5 to 10 min­utes of dri­ve time at best. If you know your trip has a long dis­tance between charg­ers, start­ing your trip going 10 mph under the lim­it for the first 20 min­utes will pro­vide you with a very com­fort­able buffer.

A prac­ti­cal way to tack­le range anx­i­ety is to exper­i­ment. Find an after­noon that you can go for a short road trip. Dri­ve in an area that you know has access to charg­ing and dri­ve until your car reach­es zero. Know­ing how your car han­dles 0%, what the alerts will be, and what the pow­er dynam­ics feel like can give you the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence for when you do come close to an emp­ty bat­tery on a trip. Most automak­ers pro­vide 3–5kwh of buffer past 0%. Get­ting to know that lim­it will help you tack­le anx­i­ety on a real trip. I’m always com­fort­able now arriv­ing at a charg­ing sta­tion with 5% or less because I know from expe­ri­ence how far it real­ly takes to get to 0%.

That said, even the best strate­gies only go so far. If you do run out of bat­tery, pull over. Use apps such as Plugshare or Charge­point to locate charg­ers suit­able for your car near­by and call for a tow. Often, if with­in war­ran­ty, you can call the man­u­fac­tur­er of your EV and they will assist in find­ing you a tow to the near­est charg­er. AAA also now offers plans for EV dri­vers for low charge emergencies.

Ulti­mate­ly, EV’s have more options than gas alter­na­tives. A sim­ple out­let can give the aver­age EV 4–6 miles of range in an hour of charg­ing. Camp­sites, KOA’s, hotel park­ing lots, and shop­ping cen­ters often have out­door out­lets for hol­i­day lights and dec­o­ra­tions. Ask the store own­er per­mis­sion and use your mobile charg­er to plug in. An hour and half of charg­ing on a reg­u­lar out­let could get you enough charge to make the near­est charg­ing sta­tion in a real pinch.

No one pur­chas­ing an EV intends to also car­ry around a gas gen­er­a­tor to make sure you nev­er run out of charge. You won’t be walk­ing the side of the high­way with an emp­ty gas can to get a 0% EV up and going, but with pre­pared­ness and plan­ning, most own­ers may nev­er even see a 5% state of charge in their car. How­ev­er, if you do, know that there are many strate­gies to use those last elec­trons to get you to safety.

Writ­ten by Vol­un­teer EV Coach Ben Westby

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