German Psychologist Says Range Anxiety Becomes Less Real After 3 Months of Driving Electric

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 22

Charging by Lightning Strike Not Recommended

Charging by Lightning Strike Not Recommended

Once behind the wheel of a pure electric vehicle, who long does it take for any trace of range anxiety to vanish forever?

The Fear of Running Out of Range Plan

The Fear of Running Out of Range Plan

That’s the question that German psychologist Thomas Franke set out to answer in a recent trial.

The doctors full findings will be posted in an upcoming issue of Transport Policy, but for now we do have access to the summary and some additional details.

Franke conducted several surveys, which led to the findings that the average American drives approximately 40 miles per day.  However, the finding further show that the average American would prefer an EV with a range of an almost absurd 300 miles.  It’s this buffer that comforts us when we’re behind the wheel.

But what Franke found is that, over time, the average EV driver got more accepting of the vehicles limited range.

Unfortunately, Franke’s trial was conducted in Germany, so the results aren’t as US-specific as we’d like to see, but they still show that range anxiety quickly diminishes over time.

Franke recruited 79 people in the Berlin area to drive a MINI Cooper with a battery range of 100 or miles for a few months.

At first, those drivers (who average only 36 miles per day) stated that a minimum acceptable battery range was 84 miles.  It should be noted that before the trial began, the same drivers stated that nothing less than 90 miles of range would suffice.

By the end of the three-month trial the same drivers were fine with 77 miles of total range.

Or, to put it another way, as drivers got more comfortable with their vehicle and how it fit into their daily commute, the range requirement dropped quickly.

We conclude from the findings of the trial that getting drivers behind the wheels of EVs for extended periods of time will dispel any notion of range anxiety and that range anxiety only exists in the first place due to the lack of a sufficient public charging infrastructure.

Gas stations are everywhere…gas anxiety doesn’t exist.  Chargers are still few and far between…range anxiety for some is a real.

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22 responses to "German Psychologist Says Range Anxiety Becomes Less Real After 3 Months of Driving Electric"

  1. Brian says:

    From actually talking to real people, I have found that the vast majority of them don’t have have concerns about making their 40 miles/day in an EV. They complain that they DO occasionally travel hundreds of miles. In many cases as often as once per month. That’s just too often to consider renting every time.

    As for the “almost absurd” 300 miles, first I will point out that most gas cars travel about 300-400 miles per tank. So that is what most people are used to. But they are also used to going out of their way every 300 miles to refill said tank because they cannot do so at home. For me personally, the last time I have traveled more than 300 miles in one day was about 8 years ago when I moved from CA to NY, and drove cross country to do so. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip. BUT I do frequently (5-10x per year) travel about 250 miles. If I want to completely ditch gasoline (which I do), I need an EV with >250 mile range and/or a quick charger in multiple locations.

    1. MDEV says:

      You mean TESLA 🙂

      1. Brian says:

        That’s exactly what I mean 🙂

        Unfortunately, I don’t have a spare $70k, so I, like many readers on this site, and anxiously awaiting GenIII.

        1. Brian says:

          I *am* anxiously awaiting GenIII.

        2. Mark H says:

          I have to admit I am watching the gen III as well. Want it be interesting if the Gen III has a battery range extender as George S commented earlier. For now there are still great choices of BEVs and EREVs that fit your driving habits except for those who require the SUV and they are coming too. I never gave into the SUV but I have to believe that “most” families don’t have TWO SUVs. SO ditch the commute ICE for an EV, you are gonna love it!

          1. Brian says:

            “SO ditch the commute ICE for an EV, you are gonna love it!”

            If you’re referring to me, I will refer you to my picture. I did ditch the commuter/errands car for a Leaf, and I do love it. I cannot, however, trade in the hybrid for a long-distance BEV. An 85kWh Model S would do the trick, but I cannot afford one. And ironically if I traded it for a Volt, it would burn MORE gasoline, in addition to using electricity.

  2. David Murray says:

    We have a Leaf and a Volt. We’ve had the Leaf nearly 3 years. Range anxiety never goes away completely. A lot of it depends on where you are going. If you are making the same trips you always make every day, then sure.. no more range anxiety. But on the occasion when you need to take a longer trip across town that you don’t normally do, there can still be some anxiety. Especially when one doesn’t know if the Blink charger will be working or not.

    1. Josh says:

      +1

      It is the unknowns of the route/conditions that can introduce anxiety, not the car.

      1. MDEV says:

        You mean is not a TESLA

    2. Dave R says:

      Also a LEAF owner now for about 2.5 years. On a daily basis, there is no range anxiety – only typically drive 20-30 miles/day. But on trips near or beyond a single charge there is plenty of “charging station” anxiety where I hope that a charging station is available and functional (not fully used by other plug-ins, blocked by non-plug-ins, or non-functional).

      But on weekends, it still exists when driving 50+ miles. If going to be driving more than ~40 miles, I will charge to 100% (instead of the regular 80%) before leaving which is good for an extra 12 miles range or so.

      If driving more than ~55 miles, I will look for charging stations near a destination which can be used to pick up a bit of a buffer.

      If driving more than ~65 miles, I can pretty much count on having to charge – so I need to be able to count on a charging station at the destination or a quick charger somewhere around the 50-65 mile mark.

      Which leads to the problem is that even if I know where charging stations exist and they are convenient – I have had enough problems with public charging when I didn’t absolutely need the charge that I am reluctant to rely on them when venturing out beyond single charge range, especially if there are no suitable backup locations within a few miles.

      1. David Murray says:

        Exactly. I rarely make a trip where I know I’ll need to use a public charger. That’s because my experience shows that 1 out of 3 times I try to use a public charger for an opportunity charge, the station is either broken or blocked by a gas car. So it is really hard to plan to use an L2 station on the other side of town.

  3. Nelson says:

    “By the end of the three-month trial the same drivers were fine with 77 miles of total range.”

    I’m not sure a three-month trial is long enough to make an informed decision on what range is enough for an EV. If they live in a location that experiences four seasonal weather changes (Sprint, Summer, Fall, Winter), they need at least a one year trial.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

    1. David Murray says:

      Depends.. If the 3 months were during the Winter, which are arguably the most difficult months for an EV, then you could automatically assume Summer, Spring, and Fall would probably be fine.

  4. Aaron says:

    Gas anxiety DOES exist. Try driving in central Louisiana at night on a holiday on I-49. I did, and on one particular stretch, NO gas stations were open. I ran my car on fumes until I finally found one that was open.

    I ended up putting 14.9 gallons into my 15 gallon tank. Now tell me again that gas anxiety doesn’t exist!

    1. kdawg says:

      My gas anxiety is when I only have one EV mile left and my Volt is on the verge of switching to RE mode. 🙂

      (I do have a story similar to yours though, when I was in Canada once. Impossible to find an open gas station)

      1. Aaron says:

        LOL! I love it!

      2. MrEnergyCzar says:

        That’s a gas phobia….

    2. Brian says:

      I had a similar experience in NYS. I was driving through the Adirondacks at night, and drove OVER 100 miles with my gas light on, looking for an open gas station. Thank heavens my Honda had 4 (yes 4!) gallons of reserve in the tank.

  5. James says:

    An in the interim a PHEV must be an acceptable solution… It’s why I got one and with her limited 21 mile range, I’ve still managed 90% EV driving. Since I have family and the odd trip outside that, I’m fine going 2 months between gas fillups. I could likely do with 120 mile range to insure I get somewhere 50 miles away and back AND consider battery degradation over the years.

    1. Puzzlegal says:

      That’s my solution. I also have a short regualr commute, but frequently make road trips. The C-max has enough range that most of my “regular” driving is purely electric, but once or twice a week I burn gas, and once or twice a month I travel more than 100 miles in a day. No range anxiety at all. I know that I can refuel the car in 10 minutes at gazillions of conveniently locatedas stations if I am on a long trip.

  6. James says:

    After 1 1/2 years with our Leaf, we never quite got over the range anxiety. Now that we have an EV with a real 100-mile range, no problem, no range anxiety, no worrying about where public charging stations are located. I never look at Recargo or the Blink map now. Range anxiety is a function of short-range EV’s in a large urban environment.

  7. MrEnergyCzar says:

    Gas phobia for Volt owners is worse….

    MrEnergyCzar