Tuesday, October 03, 2023

A Couple of True Anecdotes About “Range Anxiety” – the Insurmountable Hurdle for EVs


From Ace of Spades:

I would like to share two true anecdotes about “range anxiety” today:

1) A co-worker (“Zeke”) returned to the office from an out of town trip and was greeted by co-workers who asked him how it went. He replied that it was great until the journey home, at which point he stated loudly, ”I will never, EVER, buy an electric vehicle.” This obviously got my attention, and I joined the group of employees listening as he related his odyssey.

On his flight home, Zeke and his wife were supposed to change planes in Atlanta, but weather caused the plane to put down in a smaller city in a neighboring state. This other city was just under 150 miles away from Zeke’s home, so he and his wife decided to just drive the rest of the way home. They went to the rental car desks in the hope of renting a car, only to find out that they had been cleaned out of all vehicles…except for a couple of EVs. Zeke said he’d love to rent an EV if it could get him home, so they rented him one, which showed a remaining range of almost 200 miles.

It was a hot, Southern, summer night, and with the AC blasting, Zeke soon noticed that the difference between remaining range and the miles to get home was steadily decreasing. When halfway home, he realized this was getting serious, so they turned off the A/C and started searching their phones for charging stations. It was late at night, and they didn’t really care to stop for an hour to get a sip of electricity, but they prefered that to losing all power. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even find any charging stations.

When they reached the outskirts of their hometown, they had less than 15 miles of range left, maybe enough to get home, but not enough to get back to a charging station the next morning. They parked the EV at a facility with a charger, then called an Uber to take them the rest of the way home. The next morning they had to return to the parked EV and spend an hour trying to get some juice in it before finally being able to turn it in at the local rental car office.


2) It was Spring of 2021, and my wife and I had just arrived in Hilton Head for a short getaway vacation when news broke of the ransomware attack on the Colonial gas pipeline. That attack pretty much put a halt to gasoline deliveries in much of the eastern seaboard, including the state of Georgia, through which my wife and I would have to drive to get back home when our stay ended.

I immediately topped off my tank. We were 425 miles away from home. With mostly highway driving, that tank of gas might take us about 400 miles, close enough to home that someone could come fetch us if necessary.

But while in the Low Country, we had also planned to visit Savannah. That round trip would consume about 65 miles of our "range." Plus, we wanted to just slowly drive around Savannah to look at the live oaks, moss, and architecture. That was going to burn more precious range.

We decided to gamble, figuring that even if we burned 100 miles of precious range, we could still make it back relatively close to home and have someone come rescue us if we ran out of gas.

We took back roads to Savannah so as to see the countryside, and as we neared the city, I saw a rural gas station that had gas! I stopped and topped off my tank. We were fully "charged" again. Whew.

Most of the gas stations I saw in the city were out of gas, but I did see one near downtown that had gas, and the cars were not backed up too far. After driving around the city and eating dinner, I drove by that gas station again. It still had gas! I got in line, and after a not terribly long wait, I was able to top off my tank again! We drove the 30-something miles back to Hilton Head and I was relieved at my range situation, but once we arrived, I started thinking about topping off my tank again. There was a station in Hilton Head with gas, but the line was very long, so I didn't.

I obsessed about getting back that final 35 miles of range, so when I woke up early the next morning, I drove over and the station still had gas! I topped it off again.

As it turned out, the pipeline situation resolved before we headed for home, so fueling up on the way back did not turn out to be too difficult after all.

Irrespective of every other reason I despise EVs, I could never drive one simply because of range anxiety. I would be obsessed with keeping it fully charged. That experience of mine in Hilton Head / Savannah was an anomaly, but it would be my daily life if I had an EV, always worried about maintaining range for whatever emergency or trip I must embark on.

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