Irrational Range Anxiety
If you have ever discussed buying an electric vehicle (EV), one of the phrases I’m sure you’ve heard is range anxiety.
Range anxiety refers to the sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach at the fear of being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat battery and no way to charge it.
In part, it’s been a key barrier to purchase, especially for rural consumers, and it’s why you don’t see as many EVs on the road in rural villages and towns as you do in the city.
Chicken and Egg
These beliefs have their roots in the EV’s recent short history. Hobbled by early battery technology, auto makers mostly released short-range EVs. You’d also at the time struggle to find a charge point outside of major urban centers.
So began the chicken and egg quandary that has defined consumer EV adoption to date: Governments were reluctant to install chargers until sales went up, and consumers were unwilling to buy EVs until the chargers went in.
But now, ever more European consumers are buying EVs. Ownership is now at a tipping point with annual sales running at a brisk 68.7% annually.
The reasons for the surge in sales is that advanced battery technology, and decreasing prices, means that automobile manufacturers can now give consumers what they’ve been longing for - powerful batteries and long-range EVs.
Also, the European Union (EU) has pursued fairly aggressive charging point policies that have seen the number and distribution of charge points expand dramatically in the last few years.
These initiatives are challenging old consumer myths around range and charging.
Game-Changing Advance Battery Technology
Battery technology has advanced to the point where you will find that the range issue has become, well, a non-issue.
In 2019 there will be at least 20 new models released in Europe, many of which sit in the anxiety-shattering 300 km plus range. And more are being released every day.
Kia for instance, has recently released in Europe two new long-range models, the Kia e-Niro and the Kia e-Soul, both with single-charge driving distances exceeding 450 Km.
Given that most Europeans will not drive more than 40-80 Km in a single trip on any given day, these ranges are more than enough to cover your average driving needs.
Whether you live in the city or the country, if you need to visit your grandmother in the next town, there is no need to fear ever running out of charge.
Charging Point Policies Driving EV Adoption
If you’ve hesitated to consider buying an EV because of the apparent lack of accessible charging points, then perhaps it’s time to think again.
EU government policies are expanding charging networks outside cities into rural communities and, critically, to major highways and arterial roads, facilitating both rural EV uptake and intercity EV usage. It varies country by country but on many of Europe’s country roads you will never be far from a charger.
There are roughly 150, 000 charging points in Europe now, but the EU’s Clean Fuel Directive is targeting 800,000 by 2020 – with one high powered charging point every 40 Km for the majority of member countries, mostly located in existing fuel stations.
Many of these will be fast chargers – capable of charging an EV battery from 0 to 80% in just 30 minutes, if not faster.
Fast enough anyway for you to enjoy a bathroom stop, a reinvigorating cup of coffee, and a quick bite to eat to see you on your journey’s way.
Rural Advantages of EV Ownership
If you live in the country-side, you can add home-charging and solar generated electricity to your reasons to reconsider purchasing an EV.
Most EV charging occurs at home, simply because it is the most convenient– it has been found in Norway for example that 95% of all EV charging is done at home.
For home-charging though, you will require an off-street parking space – an increasing rarity in densely populated cites.
While there are plenty (and a growing number) of public charge points for city dwellers – none are as convenient as overnight home-charging.
In contrast, many rural dwellers of course do have off-street parking in which to install at-home charging systems.
Additionally, as a rural inhabitant you’re more likely to live in a detached or semi-detached house, which are perfect for installing Photo Voltaic solar panels to generate electricity from the sun.
This helps you to off-set your electricity bill with clean solar electricity for home use and car charging, and it can serve as a source of income when you sell your excess electricity back to the grid.
In 10 short years the electrification landscape has changed dramatically in Europe. Once seen as a bit of novelty and confined to urban usage, EVs now are entering the mainstream. Their advantages are being embraced by city, and increasingly rural, consumers alike, as range anxiety has been blunted by advanced battery technology, long range EVs and a well-distributed charging network.