Range anxiety was once a legitimate concern, but is becoming less of an issue as we head towards the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars
You’ve heard of FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, but what about the Fear of Running Out? Granted, FORO is unlikely to catch on, but ‘range anxiety’ is a real issue for the electric car industry.
To tackle the problem, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a study into whether the UK’s electric car charging network worked well in helping drivers deal with range anxiety.
“Being able to easily stop off at a petrol station is a standard part of a journey and consumers must trust that electric charge points will provide a similarly straightforward service,” concluded CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli.
All electric cars are advertised with an estimated range. This is the distance you can expect to travel on a single charge, based on the current WLTP test standards. It’s a fairly accurate estimate, but the actual figure will be affected by external factors such as the weather, speed of travel, topography and the use of power-sapping items, such as air conditioning, in the car.
According to a recent study in the US, how far a vehicle can travel on a single charge is the factor most cited by customers in deciding which EV to buy.
It’s kind of like the feeling you get when you see the low fuel light in a petrol or diesel car. You have a rough idea of how many miles are left in the tank, so your thoughts will turn to finding the nearest fuel station.
But here’s the thing: there are more than twice the number of electric car charging points in the UK than there are petrol stations. This is according to figures released by the Department of Transport in June 2020.
The charging infrastructure is growing on a weekly basis. There are now more than 15,000 locations with public charging points installed, with the number of connectors totalling 40,000. A quarter of these are rapid chargers, which can deliver an 80 percent charge in less than an hour – often significantly less.
Today, a driver is never more than 25 miles from a rapid charging point anywhere along England’s motorways and A-roads. The situation could be a little different in the remotest parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but the same could be said of finding a petrol station in a rural location.
Range anxiety was more prevalent when the modern electric car industry was in its infancy. A small and underfunded charging infrastructure, expensive vehicles with limited range and a lack of understanding meant EV ownership wasn’t a realistic proposition for the vast majority of drivers.
Much has changed. The government offers grants to support the purchase of new electric cars and home charging points, the infrastructure has grown and battery technology has progressed at a rapid rate.
Consider the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, two of the most popular EVs in the UK. Both offer up to 239 miles of electric range from a single charge, which could be more than enough for a week of driving.
Sure, you might be accustomed to driving 500+ miles before filling up with fuel, but RAC data shows that the average UK car trip is just 10 miles. Even if you assume a Leaf or Zoe will manage 200 miles from a single charge, that’s enough for 20 trips.
Even the most affordable electric cars could manage between 150 and 200 miles, while the most expensive EVs can travel up to 350 miles with a fully charged battery. Install a home charging point and range anxiety should become a thing of the past, even ahead of a long trip.
Range anxiety was a legitimate concern for potential and existing electric car owners, but will become less of an issue as we head towards the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
The infrastructure is such that it will become quicker to find a charging point than a petrol station, with smartphone apps and in-car technology available to find suitable locations along your route. It’s getting easier all the time.