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As more and more electric vehicles (EVs) hit the roads, we’re forced to come to terms with the reality of this electric boom. And unfortunately, it’s not all good.
One of the most frequently cited concerns around EV adoption is what’s known as range anxiety. This is the fear that an EV will run out of charge while driving. And given that there are about 46,000 EV charging stations in the US compared to 150,000 gas stations, it’s clear there may be something to range anxiety. Range anxiety is all about the mismatch between EV charging infrastructure and the power capacity available for charging.
EV range anxiety is the fear experienced by EV owners regarding the limited distance their vehicles can travel on a single charge. It stems from a concern that the car won’t have enough power to get to the next charging station, leaving the driver stranded. For many drivers, this is a very real fear compounded by a range of factors, including the perceived lack of charging stations and how inaccessible they are.
Several factors contribute to this anxiety, including infrastructure limitations and technological aspects. It’s important to confront these fears as they’re often one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption. So much so that a recent EY study found that range anxiety has now replaced upfront cost as the second most important reason not to purchase an EV.
One of the fundamental reasons for range anxiety is the inaccessibility of charging stations. Unlike traditional gasoline stations that are ubiquitously scattered across urban and rural landscapes, EV charging infrastructure is still developing. This lack of a comprehensive charging network can leave EV drivers uncertain about finding a charging point when needed, especially during long journeys or in areas with limited charging infrastructure. This issue is further exacerbated in regions where charging stations are concentrated in urban centers, leaving suburban and remote areas underserved.
EV charging time is another critical factor contributing to range anxiety. While home charging solutions have made it convenient for EV owners to charge their vehicles overnight, public charging stations often require more time to replenish a significant portion of the battery’s capacity. Fast charging stations have been introduced to address this concern, allowing for quicker charging sessions. However, even with fast charging, charging an EV is still considerably longer than refueling a gasoline vehicle. This aspect becomes particularly problematic for drivers accustomed to the rapid refueling process of conventional vehicles, leading to apprehension about the time commitment associated with recharging an EV.
How much electricity does an EV use? This can be affected by battery size as well as the longevity of an EV battery. Over time, lithium-ion batteries, the primary energy storage components in EVs, experience gradual capacity degradation. This means that as the battery ages, it can hold less energy, reducing driving range on a single charge. While advancements in battery technology have significantly improved battery life and durability, concerns about potential battery degradation still linger in the minds of potential EV buyers. The fear of facing diminished range as the vehicle ages can contribute to range anxiety, prompting drivers to question the long-term viability of EVs as reliable transportation options.
Researchers from the University of Delaware recently published a research paper on how range anxiety might be unwarranted. This eye-opening research found that more than a third of drivers could meet 100% of their needs with an EV with a relatively small battery. And this isn’t all that surprising.
After all, one wouldn’t need 300 miles of range when most of one’s trips are 20 miles or less, which, according to the Federal Highway Administration, is about right for most Americans. But there’s research, and then there’s perception. And that’s where the problem comes in.
This research also pointed out that most range anxiety would worry prospective EV buyers. After all, most EV owners simply charge their vehicles at home and wake up to a fully charged car. For them, they don’t have to overthink about range anxiety. Those who have yet to make the switch are more likely to worry about charging stations, charging time, and EV battery life.
Whether or not range anxiety is a reason for concern might be less relevant. After all, the one sure thing is that EVs are on a growth trajectory. Consider that 14% of all new cars sold globally in 2022 were electric. Or that in the first quarter of 2023, EVS sales were up 25 % over the same period in 2022. All this growth means one thing: technological advancement. And with these advances comes more solutions to tackle range anxiety head-on.
While range anxiety remains a top concern for some EV drivers, the reality is there are some practical steps these drivers can take to alleviate much of this concern. This includes planning routes around charging stations, using an EV charging station location app, and taking advantage of home charging stations. But this is only a part of it. The real solutions to range anxiety emerge from ongoing innovation within the EV industry.
It all starts with EV charging developments. After all, reliable charging is at the forefront of tackling range anxiety. As technology evolves, charging infrastructure is being expanded and upgraded to provide faster and more accessible charging options.
Ultra-fast charging stations are a groundbreaking innovation that has the potential to revolutionize how we charge EVs. They can charge an EV in a matter of minutes rather than hours. These charges can charge an EV up to 80% in less than an hour. And in some cases, in less than half an hour.
This remarkable speed minimizes waiting times at charging stations and transforms long road trips from a logistical puzzle into a seamless journey. With these stations, the convenience of quick refueling, almost like that one would expect from conventional gasoline refueling, becomes a reality.
Smart charging is an intelligent and cutting-edge approach to EV charging. Unlike other charging methods that might strain the grid during peak times, smart charging enables EV charging station owners to manage when and how EVs are charged remotely. This makes it easy to optimize EV energy consumption for both efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Smart charging involves connecting the EV to the cloud. This ensures EV charging station owners get real-time data from the connected charging devices, which can be used to make smart charging decisions. By considering things like electricity prices, grid capacity, and driver preferences, it’s possible to optimize one’s charging to distribute the charging load more efficiently.
Perhaps the most promising advancement in EV charging technologies is the shift to renewable energy. Harnessing solar and wind energy when they’re abundant makes it possible to reduce reliance on an already strained grid and pave the way towards 100% carbon-free charging. Often, this involves co-locating EVs with on-site solar energy systems and batteries.
As the adoption of electric vehicles continues to rise, the demand for EV charging will intensify. This shift towards renewable energy addresses grid strain and lays the groundwork for a future where EVs are seamlessly charged using energy sources that are as clean as the vehicles themselves.
One innovative solution in this domain is the Gencell EVOX. Gencell EVOX utilizes hydrogen fuel cell technology to provide power on-site and reliable backup power to charging infrastructure. By converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and heat, it offers a clean and efficient energy source for charging stations.
Particularly crucial is its capacity to alleviate the strain on the power grid during peak charging times. This technology ensures consistent and sustainable EV charging and supports the transition to a greener energy landscape.