Range Anxiety is Real, and a Severe Lack of Familiarity is Holding Back EV Adoption

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
range anxiety is real and a severe lack of familiarity is holding back ev adoption

Even though they’ve been around since the late 1800s, 60 percent of Americans surveyed this year said that they were “unaware” of electric cars. While one is forced to wonder exactly how the question was worded, no possible answer inspires confidence in the public’s knowledge on the subject of EVs.

It would seem, at least in this instance, that modern-day America is largely unfamiliar with the electric car. There is also an underlying range anxiety afflicting prospective buyers. That doesn’t bode well for the rapid normalization that many automakers are anticipating in the years to come. However, there is a silver lining for an electric future.

While 80 percent of the 2,500 people surveyed by Altman Vilandrie & Company had never been inside an EV, most of those who had said they enjoyed the experience. Still, even those peoplehad complaints about the higher than average cost associated with battery-powered cars.

“While the EV adoption rate is low, there are signs of strong latent demand in the marketplace,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Moe Kelley. “The auto industry still needs to make more low-priced models available to consumers, as well as finding a way for more drivers to try out an EV. If those things happen we should see the EV adoption rate accelerate.”

Some companies are doing that already. The Chevrolet Spark EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf are all prime examples of more affordable electric options, though none have yet addressed the issue of range anxiety — which really harms EV adoption rates.

Of the surveyed group, 74 percent expressed fears that the battery might not provide an adequate range, while 85 percent worried that there wouldn’t be enough charging stations to make EV ownership worthwhile. While there are electrics on the market now with range limits exceeding 200 miles, they start at $68,000 and are only available from one manufacturer. Chevrolet’s $30,000 (after tax credit) Bolt, which is just rolling out in select regions before a full release in 2017, claims 238 miles.

“Price matters, and our analysis shows that more affordable models would go a long way to changing the perception that EVs are luxury items for the urban elite,” said Altman Vilandrie & Co’s Soumen Ganguly, who co-directed the survey with Kelley. “Both electric and self-driving vehicles are the future of personal transportation but carmakers need to make sure consumers are excited about going electric now, and that goes beyond the obvious environmental benefits.”

[Image: Nissan]

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jan 02, 2017

    After reading most of the comments related to this article I see the dreamers and the realists. The dreamers are totally ignoring the negative aspects of EVs. EVs will be available only for the better heeled in our society. EV vehicle life will need to be decades, not years. Because of this the auto industry will take a hit. Because there will be less vehicles on the road and all driverless the whole of the transport industry will take a massive hit in employment. EVs will need to be small. Weight is a big factor. In Australia the major cities are rapidly developing major population nodes along existing transport corridors, rail being the main form of chosen transport. I don't see a bright future in the automotive/transport world. Automotive consumerism will decline. Buying a vehicle will become as exciting as choosing a fridge. The problem with electricity is our ability to store this energy. Because of this electric power transport is most efficient when the enerhy is deliver on demand via conduits (powerlines). To those that deny climate change is not occurring. Just take in a local example like Atlanta. Atlanta's urban sprawl has a significant impact on its climate, this is without pollutants. Sydney is the same. I believe how we are tackling climate change is half assed. EVs are not the answer.

    • See 16 previous
    • VoGo VoGo on Jan 03, 2017

      @Big Al from Oz Big Al, Just in case you are willing to consider an alternative perspective: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-03/for-cheapest-power-on-earth-look-skyward-as-coal-falls-to-solar

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Jan 03, 2017

    I'd like to have an electric car for commuting, but my round trip is 60 miles. Something tells me the heat in Houston will hurt the battery a little, meaning something like a $6,000 used Leaf or 500e with an 80-90 mile range would just barely make it each day. I simply don't want to deal with that calculation. I'd love a Volt but they're still twice that price and it won't make financial sense until the price of gas goes up another dollar or so.

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    • IBx1 IBx1 on Jan 03, 2017

      @JPWhite I'm more worried about what the remaining battery capacity is when these examples have 40k-60k miles. I'm not worried about the car itself with that mileage, or the motor, but if the battery can barely squeak by on the commute I'd be more comfortable with a range extender. The newer EV's have higher capacity batteries, but they're still too costly for a dedicated commuter car.

  • ToolGuy 404 error on the product link. Which probably isn't terrific marketing on TTAC's part. https://thinkwarestore.com/product/f200-pro-ca
  • ToolGuy Second picture: Do you like pegboard storage? (I don't.)
  • ToolGuy "WHAT???"(old 'I was in the artillery' joke)
  • ToolGuy Oh and this.
  • ToolGuy "The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Harrow have likewise announced plans to take legal action to force a possible judicial review..."But: "In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire... Hurricanes hardly happen."