Understanding Range Anxiety

Electric vehicles (EVs) are zipping into the mainstream, making the world a cleaner, greener place. By 2035, the UK will say "ta-ta" to new petrol and diesel cars, while the US wants 50% of new car sales to be electric by 2030. So, chances are, you'll be cruising in an EV before you know it.

However, whilst they may be helping to fight climate change, there are still plenty of unknowns and misconceptions about electric vehicles that need to be addressed. Two biggies are the notorious 'range anxiety' and 'charge anxiety'. 

Electric car range anxiety is no joke, and it’s currently putting a lot of people off making the switch. To help ease your mind, in this blog we’ll be answering some of the top questions you might have such as “what is range anxiety?”, “What causes range anxiety?”, and “how many drivers have range anxiety?”. Plus, don’t forget to check out our 9 facts about electric cars that might just shock you!

What is range anxiety?

Range anxiety is that little voice in your head whispering, "Hey, what if your electric car runs out of juice before you reach your destination? You'll be stuck in the middle of nowhere!" 

This fear tends to kick into high gear when you're planning a long road trip, or cruising through areas where EV charging stations aren’t easy to find. It’s the fear of being stuck with no way of charging the vehicle. 

Many drivers also have charge anxiety, where they fear the charge in their vehicle won’t last as long as it should. This in turn leads to range anxiety as they worry about whether they will be able to charge the car if it does run out of battery power.

How does range anxiety affect electric vehicle owners?

Range anxiety affects electric vehicles owners in a few ways. They may put off taking longer trips or live in a constant state on anxiety worrying about where the next charging station is. One of the most significant challenges hindering the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is the fear of running out of power. 

The ease of charging an electric vehicle largely depends on your location. However, most current EV drivers report no issues with charging their vehicles. In fact, when asked whether they would buy an electric car again in the future, 82% say they would.

So, what is causing range anxiety if current EV owners aren’t experiencing issues with charging their vehicles or running out of range?

What causes range anxiety?

The main factors driving range anxiety are a lack of charging stations, insufficient range, and the fact electric vehicles are new to drivers. Like anything new, it can take time to understand and accept EVs. Let’s explore these main causes of range anxiety...    

A Lack of Charging Stations

Range anxiety tends to occur in areas where there currently aren’t many charging stations. While they are often found in big cities or along highways, they can be few and far between in rural areas. As of mid-2022, there were about 460,000 battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) cruising UK roads, with around 31,000 public charging points to charge them. So, for those EV enthusiasts living in the countryside, range anxiety is viable concern.

But hey, let's put things into perspective: Nearly 99% of trips clock in at under 100 miles, and every EV on the market can handle that distance without breaking a sweat. So, chances are it’s something most of us don’t need to worry about.

Insufficient Charge

Another cause of range anxiety is that EVs have insufficient charge. However, even in the early days of electric cars, when the maximum range was much less impressive and batteries were significantly more expensive than today, range anxiety was mostly unfounded.

For instance, in 2010, the Nissan LEAF, the world's first mass-market electric car, had a maximum range of about 109 miles. Since then, the range of electric cars has increased substantially, with the median range currently at 195 miles, and many models boasting a range of over 300 miles.

You can learn more about the range of electric vehicles, alongside the EVs with the best range in our blog. 

The Battery Won’t Last

Some drivers worry about the battery dying quickly in electric vehicles and the cost of replacing them. The good news is that electric car batteries are quite different from traditional car batteries. They have a longer lifespan, with an average replacement timeframe of 10-20 years. 

So, unlike traditional batteries, EV batteries are designed to last and won't stop working after a few years. Although batteries lose some charging capacity over time, the decline is gradual, averaging around 2.3% per year.

Therefore, if you buy an electric car with a range of 150 miles today, you'll only lose approximately 17 miles of battery range after five years of driving. Most manufacturers also offer a standard warranty of between five to ten years, or up to 62,000 miles, providing extra reassurance and eliminating the worry of battery replacement costs.

What are the solutions to range anxiety in electric vehicles?

While some range anxiety concerns can be erased through education and knowledge, there are things the government needs to do to ease people’s fears. Let’s explore some of the solutions to solving range anxiety before the 2030 rule change kicks in.

More Charging Stations Needed

With a growing number of people making the switch to electric mobility to reduce harmful emissions, governments across the world are implementing legislation and incentives to support this much-needed transition. One of the key priorities is expanding and improving charging infrastructure.

Currently (at the time of writing), there are over 10 million electric cars on the roads globally. However, with projections indicating that the number of EVs will increase to over 130 million in the next decade, there will be a corresponding increase in the number of charging points.

While the majority of EV charging is expected to occur at home, easily accessible public charging infrastructure will be critical in supporting the continued growth of electric vehicles. Readily available public charging will be essential in supporting EV growth.

Using EV apps

Electric vehicle (EV) apps like Zap-Map or ABetterRoutePlanner, can significantly boost your confidence and provide peace of mind when driving an EV. These apps offer a variety of functions, such as searching for nearby charging points, estimating the percentage of battery usage for a return journey, and even making payments for your charge. They can also consider specific EV models, driving preferences, and battery state of charge.

For those not using an app, it's essential to be aware of as many charge points as possible along your journey or within your local area. This will allow you to plan your route effectively, ensuring that you won't run out of power and get stranded. 

Keeping a list of charging points or using a map to locate them, can be helpful in case an unexpected need for charging arises. Ultimately, having a clear understanding of your vehicle's range, coupled with the ability to locate charging points, will give you the confidence to drive your EV with ease.

Being Well Prepared 

While some tips for EV drivers may seem obvious, they can often be overlooked. Two crucial steps to keep in mind include ensuring that your EV is fully charged overnight before a long journey and verifying that your destination has a charging point.

Take advantage of any charging opportunities during your trip, such as coffee or bathroom breaks, to plug in and charge. This can help extend your vehicle's range and ensure that you reach your destination without running out of power. By being efficient with your charging and taking advantage of available charging points, you can enjoy a worry-free EV driving experience.

What do experts predict for the future of range anxiety?

Experts predict range anxiety will become a thing of the past as more charging points are introduced and people become more knowledgeable of their capabilities. Also, the battery power and speed of charging is continually being improved year upon year. 

While it is totally understandable that many drivers still have their doubts about electric vehicles, their range and battery power is a lot better than they may realise. 

Ready to make the switch to an electric vehicle? Use our car finance calculator to see how much you could borrow towards the cost of an EV. 🍃👍