Do you have “range anxiety”? That’s the worry that you’ll get stranded in an electric car because charging stations are too few and far between, and it’s a major obstacle to greater public acceptance of private electric vehicles. A pair of reports by UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation look at ways to remake L.A.’s vehicle charging amenities so that range anxiety plays less of a role in shifting to cleaner cars.
More on Electric Vehicles
Report: L.A. will be a U.S. Leader in Electric Vehicle Sales, UCLA Study Predicts
Video Commentary: What about Electric Vehicle batteries? Are they good for the environment?A previous UCLA study estimated that there will be 80,000 plug-in cars in private use in Los Angeles by 2015, so it’s clear that plenty of people don’t find the relative rarity of charging stations as opposed to gas stations much of an inconvenience. Most drivers travel less than 35 miles a day in their cars, which is well within the range of many electric vehicles assuming a single overnight charge.
But range anxiety affects the behavior of even enthusiastic adopters of electric cars. In 2009 Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) provided electric company cars to its employees with a central fleet charging station, and the company noted that most drivers were bringing cars back with more than 50% of the vehicles’ charge remaining, a clear sign that the drivers were nervous about running out of juice on the road. TEPCO installed chargers throughout Tokyo and almost immediately drivers started coming back to base with less charge remaining in their batteries. Adding additional charging stations distributed throughout the city had alleviated the drivers’ range anxiety.