Posted on July 16, 2019 by Charles Morris
When it comes to the mysterious malady known as range anxiety, there’s still a lot that medical researchers don’t know. The ailment is rampant among prospective electric vehicle owners, but it tends to inexplicably disappear within a few weeks of an actual EV purchase. Strangely, the condition is almost unknown among Tesla drivers, with the exception of new owners who are planning long road trips.
Above: The vast majority of EV charging usually happens right at home (Image: Tesla)
Now some are saying that, contrary to conventional wisdom, range anxiety is actually more of a problem for drivers of legacy vehicles than for EV drivers. If true, this would be a major shift in thinking, akin to the recent revelation that breathing carbon monoxide and other air pollutants is in fact unhealthy - the opposite of what people once believed.
YouTuber Cameron, in a recent installment of his video series The Tech of Tech, points out that ICE drivers actually have range anxiety all the time - not on the highway, where filling up at scheduled pit stops is easy, but around town, where drivers often find it necessary to top up the tank at inconvenient times. “Think about all the times you left early to get gas, so you could get where you needed to go,” says Cameron.
Unlike charging an EV, which entails pausing for a few seconds to plug in or remove the cable on your way in or out of the house, pumping petrol means taking the time to pull into a gas station (which always seems to be on the other side of a busy street, requiring a series of maddening U-turns to get back into the direction you’re going), breathing fumes and getting stinky gas (or - horrors! - diesel fuel) on your hands or even on your clean suit.
Above: Life at the gas pump is not all it's cracked up to be (Youtube: The Tech of Tech)
With an EV, Cameron explains, you start every day with a full charge. Tesla owners seldom if ever need to use public charging around town, but some find it convenient to top up at work or at the shopping center - it often saves you a few pennies while giving you access to the best parking spaces in the lot (it’s cheaper for charging station owners to install the stations near a building, because it means a shorter cable run).
Cameron points out that many peoples’ perceptions of EVs are way behind the times. Perhaps they saw Ed Begley Jr. on Living with Ed, in which he played a greenie who drove a Toyota RAV4 EV with a range of 95 miles on a good day; or they may know someone with a first-generation LEAF (the range started at 73 miles, but that must not be such a hardship, because there are over 400,000 of them on the road today). Nowadays, even ordinary EVs offer ranges of over 200 miles, and Model 3 offers up to 310 miles. That’s enough that most drivers won’t even need to bother plugging in every day. As Cameron notes, the 370 miles available with a Model S is more than he gets with a full tank of gas in his SUV.
So, is range anxiety an imaginary illness? No. It’s not the life-threatening condition that so many uninformed voices in the press make it out to be, but it is real, and like the flu in wintertime, it can threaten as soon as you think about taking a long road trip. Cameron freely admits that charging an EV on the highway is less convenient than pumping dinosaur juice into an ICE. However, as regular readers of this column know, Tesla road trips are not only quite feasible, but lots of fun. And charging on the road is getting more convenient with every passing month. DC fast chargers are being installed across the US and Europe at an amazing pace, and Tesla continues to improve its batteries, bringing charging times down.
Above: Perhaps it's time to reject the gas pump (Flickr: Michelle Kinsey Bruns)
Like many of the maladies that menace modern man, range anxiety is completely avoidable. Take sensible precautions (and check this column often for healthy tips) and you need never succumb to the symptoms. With the money you save on therapy, you just might be able to afford a few vehicle upgrades for your Tesla.