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Study: Seriously, Everybody, Relax About Electric Vehicle Range

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2017 Chevy Bolt EV commercial

Electric vehicles have always had one problem in the eyes of drivers—what many news outlets have dubbed “range anxiety.” Many people, when confronted with the somewhat limited range of the current electric vehicle selection (minus the expensive Model S and Model X, as well as upcoming models) become concerned that the car, while driving far from a charging station or friendly outlet, will run out of power, leaving the driver stranded.

However, a new study published in Nature Energy Monday by researchers from MIT and the Santa Fe Institute suggests that, honestly, we should all chill out a bit. By combining a large amount of data, the researchers found that the incredibly vast majority of daily drives would be covered by a cheaper electric car.

“What we found was that 87% of vehicles on the road could be replaced by a low cost electric vehicle available today, even if there’s no possibility to recharge during the day,” said Jessica Trancik, who is the study’s senior author and also a researcher with MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society.

This study takes into account a ton of specific data on factors which could potentially affect battery life, such as outside temperature, amount of time spent idling, how hard the driver accelerates, etc., and combined that with stats from the modest 2013 Nissan LEAF, charged once each day.

That 87% is only expected to increase with time as battery tech improves and electric vehicle range increases, and even now isn’t true across the board. “It really varies only from 84 to 93% across very different kinds of US cities,” Trancik said. “And so, that’s important because it means that there’s a high potential for electrification, not just in dense urban areas, but in sprawling cities.”

Of course, before you go to the comment section to write something about how EVs are stupid and this study is just for privileged people who have garages and so on, the study also acknowledged that this model has a limited scope, and that lack of charger availability simply calls for an expansion of electric charging infrastructure, such as the plans that the government recently laid out to greatly increase the number of charging stations across the country. For longer trips in particular, Trancik also suggested that we should develop a stronger number of people in car-sharing programs in gas-powered cars for long-distance driving, to reassure drivers that help is available in an emergency.

“If that 90% adoption potential was reached, then one could replace about 60% of gasoline consumption, but that would only reduce emissions about 30%, which is still a very significant number,” said Trancik.

News Source: The Washington Post