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Car Charging’s Battle Against ‘Range Anxiety’

Car Charging Group Inc. (CCGI.OB) is one of the leaders in the electric “gas station” business, operating nationwide in a sector that’s expected to garner in excess of $13 billion annually over the next few years.

All that’s needed is the cars.

It’s no secret that the electric auto industry has been struggling with its launch, with sales underwhelming the world over. It’s also no secret that this will likely be a long term project that will require a good dose of public education, and perhaps more government backing in the way of subsidies and perhaps even a sustained media campaign.

That said, there were 38,000 sales of plug-in cars during the 2012 model year, and that’s a 228% increase over numbers posted last model year, 2011. Hybrid models that offer drivers the option of using electricity or more conventional fuels, posted a 55% increase this year.

Part of the problem is perception. Because while the industry poster child Chevy Volt, a product of General Motors (GM), sold roughly 20,000 units this calendar year, that number still outpaces a very impressive list of long established, fuel-operated vehicles, including the following:

Chevrolet Sells More Volts Than …

Mazda: Miata, CX-7, Tribute, RX-8, 2, and 5
Mercedes: S-Class, CL-Class, CLS-Class, SLK, SLS AMG, R-Class, G-Class, B-Class, and SL-Class
Land Rover: LR2, LR4, and Range Rover
Audi: A3, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q7, R8, and TT
Lexus: GS, GX460, LX570, CT200h, HS250h, LFA, SC430, and LS
BMW: Z4, X6, 1-Series, 6-Series, and 7-Series
Nissan: 370Z, Quest, Cube, GT-R, Xterra, Titan, and Armada
Porsche: Boxster, Panamera, Cayman, Cayenne, and 911
Chevrolet: Caprice, HHR, Cobalt, and Corvette

So all is not lost.

Chevrolet’s Volt may not yet be a Honda (HMC) Accord and Nissan’s Leaf (NSANY.OB) – the second hottest EV on the market – may not be a Ford (F) F Series vehicle, but all the same it’s safe to say the draw for these vehicles will only strengthen in the face of increased gasoline costs and generally tougher economic times ahead.

Not Your Kid’s Toy Car

Another potential reason offered for the difficulty behind the less than expected sales is the roughly $40,000 sticker price that some consumers feels a tad rich, given what most think they should be paying for all things electric.

But we feel there’s something more salient at play here.

Consider this: the 2013 Chevy Volt will have a range of 380 miles before it has to head back to the charger. And according to most estimates, a full charge using a 120 volt outlet could take anywhere between ten and eleven hours. This has led to widespread worry among potential buyers.

Why?

Because most folks with a long commute will need to recharge every two to three days, but for salespeople who heap on the mileage, or for those who simply like to go out for extended cruises, there’s another condition that comes into play. It’s playfully referred to by industry analysts as “range anxiety,” and according to the urban dictionary, refers to the fear that 1) you won’t have enough juice to get to your EV to its final destination, or to make it home, or to a recharging station, or 2) fear of driving altogether because your car may run out of juice en route.
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