Sunday, August 17, 2014

Range Anxiety


Range anxiety is not some superstition that afflicts electric vehicle drivers (except you Tesla guys), but rather a meaningful need to understand how far you can drive.  Anyone can hop into a gasoline powered vehicle with a 15-gallon tank and expect to drive 300 to 500 miles without the need to refill.  (That’s over six hours of driving.)  And, the refueling takes as little as five minutes.  In fact, most owner’s manuals recommend refueling once the gas tank is down to its last two gallons of fuel to avoid sucking tiny debris into the fuel injectors of the engine.  With a range of about 65 miles, the i-MiEV is like driving a gasoline engine with a two-gallon gas tank.  Of course you’re going to be antsy about range because you have been trained to refuel when the energy level drops to where an electric vehicle is fully charged.  The good news is you get used to this.

The more important thing to do is to befriend Google Maps.  If you plan all your destinations within 25 to 30 miles from your home, then you are usually safe, especially if you can shift some of the miles from the highway to slower streets.  Google Maps allows you to put in your starting point and your destination and determine the length of the best routes to get there.  (Many smart phones offer this feature as well.)  I can travel beyond 30 miles when I have access to a charging station at or near my destination.  But then I need to allow time to recharge the battery.  A full charge takes a little more than six hours.  I can get about one third of a charge in two hours (good for 20 miles), which can extend my driving range to roughly 80 miles, or points 40 miles away, without too much inconvenience.
The approximate safe range for my I-MiEV without recharging
 There are two destinations I would like to try to visit from my home.  San Francisco and Santa Cruz.  The road to San Francisco is 50 miles and is mostly level.  There is more demand for charging stations in San Francisco and the car would need to charge for at least five hours before I could return home.  This long recharge time is what keeps me from taking my car there.  As for Santa Cruz, the biggest unknown is crossing the mountain at 1,800 feet up, with a number of uphill climbs before coasting into the beach town of Santa Cruz.  Since buying the car, there are now charging stations in downtown Santa Cruz, so perhaps I should attempt this drive next.

No comments:

Post a Comment