Ever since electric vehicles (EVs) started to become a viable transport alternative, the phrase ‘range anxiety’ has been tossed about, with most pundits citing the fear of not being able to reach your destination without running out of power as a barrier to EV adoption. Even today, range anxiety is still mentioned as one of the top reasons why people are reticent about transitioning to electric vehicles. The funny thing is, though, that almost as soon as this phrase became part of the conversation, it became a myth. And some would argue that range anxiety was never a thing in the first place. So, let’s look at expectations and why ‘range anxiety’ doesn’t match with reality.
In 2011, when the first major EV was released to the market (the Nissan LEAF for those interested) you would get maybe 160km out of a full battery charge. And for some, that would be enough to make you nervous about running out of power, especially when the network of charging stations back then was minimal.
By 2015, though, the average EV had a range of around 200km, while today it hovers around 350km – a number that is expected to rise to around 400km in the not-too-distant future. And the charging station network? It has grown by leap and bounds. In the UK, there were 37,261 EV charge points spread across 22,049 charging locations by the end of December 2022 – a 31% increase from the previous year. In the EU,there were roughly 375,000 charging stations by the end of 2021, with that number expected to increase rapidly in the coming years.
Expectations vs reality
Those who cite range anxiety might have visions of being stranded on some roadside with no charging station in sight – and no ability to ‘fill up a gas canister’ for an emergency top up. But how far do people drive and where are they going?
If we look at the numbers, a study conducted on more than 600 000 vehicles across Europe showed that 8 in ten drivers travel less than 100km a day. That same study finds that 6 in ten drivers travel less than 50km a day. To break it down even further, in the UK, the average trip length is 8.4km, while globally, the average daily car journey is around 15 minutes or about 15km. In Europe, internal combustion engine (ICE) drivers average just 13,600km per year, while EV drivers are clocking up averages of 14,200km annually. In the US, 95% of car journeys are under 48km, with 60% less than 9km.
So, what does this tell us? That most of our time behind the wheel is spent on short, stop-start journeys – but even if those trips are longer, range anxiety really isn’t a realistic factor.
Here are a few individual EV model ranges to give you an idea of scope. Range, of course, varies due to things like weather and payload, along with factors such as city, highway, or rural driving. This means Real Range is an industry calculated average – and it’s important to note that the median range for EVs has increased by 56% in the last 6 years or so.