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The wrong focus on range anxiety?

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by gpetti, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. gpetti

    gpetti Active Member

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    It is only recently after driving a Tesla for several months and occasionally having to drive our other (ICE) vehicle that I realize that the reality of range anxiety is the opposite of most people's perception. That is to say, I think that range anxiety is a much more common problem with an ICE than it is with an electric vehicle. I believe that this will be true for FCVs as well.
    In this forum and virtually anywhere that Tesla is being discussed, solving the "range problem" is one of the most common topics. This is understandable to some extent as the ability to drive electric cars for long distances seems to be the main chink in the armor. As Tesla (and to a lesser extent other manufacturers) solve this particular issue, one of the final barriers to Electric Vehicles will come down. Unfortunately the continued focus on this issues tends to distort the fact that for most drivers, for most of their car usage, the electric vehicle is vastly more convenient and virtually removes range anxiety. Obviously I have no stats to back this up but I think it is pretty evident that most people can easily manage their daily driving mileage, even in a Nissan Leaf, let alone a Tesla. For someone like myself, the highway driving case is less than once every 2 months whereas I drive every single other day of the year over easily manageable distances that end with a return to my charger at home. I understand that there are drivers for whom this is not true - and clearly Tesla must continue to remove the long distance barrier; however, I would venture to say that there is a much larger percentage of drivers who only need range driving every few months or so. The electric vehicle completely changes the driving paradigm in a way that has made daily driving much more convenient while (initially anyway) making long distance driving slightly less convenient. I feel that we lose the fact that for the largest proportion of use cases - electric cars completely remove the need to search out gas stations every few days and spend however much time is required lining up and gassing up etc. This was brought home to me recently when my wife was picking me up from a venue in our ICE vehicle. The car had been low on fuel the night before but she didn't have time to fill it. When it was time to come out and pick me up she had forgotten that she was low on fuel and did not have time to "gas up" before picking me up. Thus by the time she picked me up we had the fun of sitting in traffic wondering if we would make it to the gas station. Then it hit me that this was the first range anxiety I had felt in months. Had she been driving the Tesla it would have had ample power as it does every time we leave home.
    This weekend we had a National Drive Electric Event and I spent several hours talking to people about driving electric. While I'm proud to tell people about superchargers and that even without them I've driven distances of several hundred miles in my electric car, I'm increasingly pushing home the point that one of the key features of my electric car is that it reduces range anxiety.
     
  2. J1mbo

    J1mbo Member

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    Again the focus is wrong. People always discuss RA as being about one trip that is further than the normal range of a full charge.

    However, some of us cannot charge at home, which means we don't start every journey with a full charge. We generally start with less charge than when we parked the car.

    Those of us who cannot charge at home have to have a charging strategy. We often start a journey with a much reduced range, and if the charging strategy gets messed up due to unforeseen circumstances, then we suffer range anxiety.

    The only cure for this is a SC in every gas station.
     
  3. FLDarren

    FLDarren Member

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    +1
    Not one ounce of range anxiety here either and I have a 60 with over 6,200 miles in 3+ months. I went to Tampa one day and didn't even check my rated range until I got to my destination. I got there and thought about how much faith I subconsciously have in the battery to not glance down even once at the range meter. I constantly had range anxiety in my Prius. I was too lazy and always waited till the last bar blinked before I started hunting down gas stations. Never again will that happen to me.
     
  4. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    Does it mean that 200miles of range is the magic number where range stops to be the problem?
    What about 150? Or 100? Where would you put the line between Enough and Not enough?
     
  5. J1mbo

    J1mbo Member

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    IMO range anxiety is a reflection of how much you trust the car to accurately report remaining range, and how much you know about the traffic & driving conditions on the way.



    If your journey to the next charger is 50 miles and the car reports 55 miles, you will get RA when you find out that 30 of those miles is uphill and against the wind... but that is true of all cars, not just EVs.
     
  6. JohnQ

    JohnQ Active Member

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    Range anxiety is ultimately about convenience. In theory, EVs can drive just as far as an ICE. There's electricity everywhere. It just takes a lot longer to fill up. Most of the time, the inconvenience is negated by the fact that we don't need to use the care while charging (it's parked next to a charger overnight). But, the less range in the vehicle, and the fewer quick charge solutions, the greater the inconvenience. This is an unacceptable trade off to quite a few people. If Tesla did not exist, with it's significant range and growing supercharger network, I would not own an electric car.
     
  7. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    Maybe not Range Anxiety, but I do know several Leaf owners who cannot drive their cars to specific events that we may attend together because of the range of their cars. They are aware of the limitation and make other arrangements. These same owners do suffer from a kind of winter range anxiety where they have to be extremely cautious and judicious with the heat just to make it to where they are going. One owner I know has talked about wrapping himself in a 12v electric blanket and foregoing cabin heat all together.

    These are not problems I have with my Tesla, but not every EV owner drives a Tesla.
     
  8. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    So much to say here. I think I can generally agree with some of the general concept the OP is stating, but range anxiety, for some of us, is very very real.
    Most of the major metropolitan areas around me are 200+ miles away from where I live with little or no (mostly no) charging infrastructure in between. There are scattered RV parks, but knowing which ones will allow you to stop to charge, how much they'll charge you to do so, etc. is a big unknown. I can plan a trip to St.Louis and have no trouble at all getting there on a max range charge, but then, at the other side of the weekend, if the weather turns cold and rainy, with the slight elevation increase for the return trip, getting home can become a near impossibility. And it IS very anxiety provoking to watch your estimated range drop below the actual distance to home. On this particular route I have a few "bail out" options, but if one were to plan a trip on an unfamiliar route and have the same unexpected issues arise the anxiety level goes up dramatically.

    I think the situations where/when this will occur will diminish as the Supercharger and destination charger infrastructure grows, but right now, minimizing those considerations is not really very helpful and, frankly, a bit insulting to those of us who still experience range anxiety for fairly routine trips.
     
  9. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    Given that highway driving is required, the amount of range that is enough is driven by two things:
    1. How far would one drive without stopping, if range was not the issue. My answer is about four hours, or about 250-300 miles at highways speeds.
    2. How far apart are fast highway charging stations (superchargers)? Currently, they are about 150-200 miles apart with some local exceptions.

    Conclusion: The spectrum of practical ranges lies between 1. and 2. above: 150-300 miles. Therefore all the options below 150 miles are limited to local commuting. More infrastructure would help though it would require stopping more often than desired.

     
  10. gpetti

    gpetti Active Member

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    Just to be clear, I'm not trying to minimize the problem for people where EV range is a daily issue. I know that my situation is universal. Having lived in the UK for 10 years I can imagine for many people there the situation might be very different - so maybe I should constrain my comments to much of North America, and maybe just for Tesla drivers. Fortunately Tesla IS focusing on range solutions and I'm not saying that they shouldn't, my point is more about the fact that most of the dialog seems to highlight this weakness and the anxiety it can bring whereas for a very large number of drivers, the reality is the opposite for 90% of their driving. It is a completely different paradigm that works exceptionally well for those of us who commute within a city and who can plug in at home. Obviously for long distance driving as defined previously in this thread, the paradigm doesn't work so well due to the inconvenience of slow charging times which in turn makes us pick charging locations that may be difficult to reach. I felt this anxiety recently when I arrived home with 2 Kms remaining having underestimated my usage for a 180 mile journey - so I get it. That being said, I don't think I'm in a minority when I say that for my day-to-day driving needs I never worry about running out of energy whereas when I'm driving my ICE vehicle I have to watch the gauge and try to plan when I have time to stop and fuel up. I don't have a gas pump at home so I have to make sure I plan fuel stops into my schedule and if I get lazy, inevitably I will be in a hurry to get somewhere and realize that I may not have enough fuel to get there. I love being free from this and I take every opportunity to tell my non-EV friends (when they ask about range anxiety).
     
  11. rcc

    rcc Model S 85KW, VIN #2236

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    I've put >30K miles on my S in 1.75 years. That includes daily commutes, many day trips as well as an SF-LA-San Diego road trip.

    I would agree that for daily driving, the S is more convenient than an ICE because you can drive all day without recharging. No more, "I have to fill up today".

    But don't underestimate the inconvenience of the S on a road trip. The long range and supercharging make long road trips in the S practical. *NO* other EV can do that.

    But it's a pain.

    In LA, I had to drive hit up the Hawthorne supercharger at least twice because there was no destination charging where I was staying and I needed the range the next day. In San Diego, I had to drop the car off at a Tesla Service station to charge overnight because the people I was staying with had no 220 volt outlet and I needed the range the next day. If I go to Napa Valley for the day, even with the Fremont supercharger and a range charge to start the day, I have to watch out for range unless I can find charging in Napa Valley - which isn't easy. If I go to Napa or Big Sur for an overnight trip, I need to find a place where I can get a full charge overnight or things get really painful. Unfortunately, finding a hotel with charging isn't always easy.

    Basically, if you road trip in an S, you have to plan the trip around being able to charge otherwise you're going to wind up stranded somewhere. This is not "slightly less convenient". This can be a major pain. You have to put in a lot more up front planning and be willing and able to change your plans to make it work. And even then, it may not work - so don't go or rent an ICE.

    And I pity the folks who own short-range EVs like the LEAF. There are people at work who can't get home unless they recharge at work. If we ever have a day-long power outage, these people are screwed. Trips that I can take without a second thought like heading into the SF, Berkeley or down south to Monterey or Carmel are an adventure in finding charging with a LEAF. And forget about Napa or Big Sur with a LEAF. Not going to happen unless you already live within shouting distance.

    Heck, my wife wanted to buy a LEAF. Most of her driving is school pickups, errands, etc. None of it's terribly far and we live in fairly dense-pack suburbs. Tailor made for the LEAF right? We looked at her driving patterns. She'd run out of power in a LEAF once or twice a week.
     
  12. karmamule

    karmamule Member

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    @gpetti I'm very much in the same situation as you. I only drive more than 200 miles a day on very rare occasions. So, for ~98% of my driving the Model S will have significantly LESS range anxiety for me than the prior ICE vehicles I owned. Because I have a relatively short commute I didn't have a regular routine for when to fill up. I liked to fill up around 1/4 left, but since I didn't HAVE to I'd sometimes let it slide until it was "uh oh 10 miles to empty". The end result was that every other week I'd start saying 'Oh I have to remember to fill up', forget, then say it again a day or two later with more urgency, etc etc. Never again with the Model S.

    And, yeah, those small percentage of times I'm driving much further, e.g. from Boston to North Carolina to visit my Dad, it'll take longer, but I'll save HUNDREDS in gas costs and have a much more powerful, capable, and relaxing driving experience. Less "long trip driving anxiety", if you will.... :)
     
  13. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    I've not had any range anxiety on long trips. You plan your stops, have a backup, and drive to the plan--just like flying. Works every time. I had a lot more range anxiety in an ICE vehicle.

    One of the main reasons for a 500 mile battery is that 650 to 700 miles is a comfortable day's drive. You start with a full battery, stop for non-rushed lunch while charging an additional 250 miles at about the 350 mile marker and then drive the rest of the way after lunch. (Of course, there will be a few more pit stops--at least for me--but they won't be charging pit stops.)
     
  14. cpa

    cpa Member

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    Another (potential) situation for range anxiety would be spontaneous changes in plans. Your spouse calls you up on a Friday afternoon and says that we've been invited to spend the weekend 180 miles away at a friend's cabin. At least with an ICE that is on fumes we could fill up en route in about 10 minutes. But with a Tesla HPWC it would take 2+ hours to regain enough range to make the destination if we always came home from work with 90 miles of range in the battery.

    Not being critical here, but it is something that might arise from time-to-time!
     
  15. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

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    May I ask how many times this has happened to you? It's easy to make up hypotheticals, and use them to justify a conclusion, but I can certainly say that in many decades, this sort of situation has happened to me exactly zero times. And, since the Teslas are usually almost full, even if it did happen I would almost certainly be able to use the Model S to make the trip. If not, there's a number of 24-hour car rental places at the airport just a few miles away.

    A much more likely scenario is that I get some sort of family emergency call, time is of the essence, and darn it, the gas guzzler is low and I need to stop on the way. This has happened to me, twice. In one case I knew I could get to the hospital on time, but wasn't at all sure that I could get to the gas station afterward. Which seems to me to illustrate the point of this topic.
     
  16. cpa

    cpa Member

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    ggr, since you asked so nicely--It has never happened to me personally. I have owned my S for 4 months. The nearest SC is at Harris Ranch, over an hour from my house, and is on a road to nowhere. The "24-hour" airport rental car companies shut down in the early evening, as does the airport. I was just merely trying to point out that there might be occasions whereby an owner of a Tesla that is normally charged to, say, 180-200 range miles per day and comes home at night with 80-100 miles of range could not be available for a spontaneous fun outing. Not everyone who owns a Tesla lives in an urban area with 24-hour access to many amenities that perhaps you take for granted. Chill out, man!

    I cross my heart that I will never, never, ever exploit your copyrighted "intellectual property" outside or even inside this forum. Who would want to?
     
  17. William13

    William13 Member

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    Ggr, it has happened to me multiple times. I now live within driving distance of 10!!!!!! Super Chargers..... I however do not yet have them where I need them. I have driven to my Dad's house or my daughter's college which are at 120 miles one way. Then they want to go somewhere (grocery, restaurant, or shopping) and suddenly I need a charge to get home. I end up going to some lot to park and read while sipping 209V at 30A. Driving home from a Christmas shopping trip turned adventurous when the weather turned cold and several inches of snow slowed us down going home. I have spent three hours at a Kohls strip mall charging and not telling my wife as I was ashamed for not planning properly. I could have driven one hour in the wrong direction like I did the night before with my Dad to eat and Super Charge. Only this summer can I drive to Green Bay WI to visit my nephew. I need to go 20 miles out of the way to charge and hope the HPWC works at the hotel and is not ICE'd.

    There were no SC when I bought my Tesla and admired people with the courage to forage and take their time going from A to B.

    Today I charged to 209 miles. I expected to drive 110 miles total. Several patients became unexpectedly sick. My wife asked me to help drop off her ICE at the dealer and one of my employees became ill and needed a visit at the hospital. I just arrived home with 5 miles left.

    I love my Tesla, I spend about the same total time charging as pumping but work things differently.

    Range anxiety still rears it's ugly head for me monthly.
     
  18. rcc

    rcc Model S 85KW, VIN #2236

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    A fairly extreme case happened to me once a few years back. <cell phone rings>. I pick up. "Hey Ray, can you drive down to Big Sur and give <someone> a ride to the airport?"

    A >5 hour round trip drive on maybe 2 hours notice.

    The less extreme version of that is, "*Who* is playing tonight up in Berkeley? Ok, let's go..." Instant add of 100 miles to my "daily drive".

    It can and does happen.
     
  19. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I've had "schedule anxiety" due to slow Level II charging and needing to get to an airport on time... but not range anxiety.
     
  20. MrJima

    MrJima Member

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    As I've said in the past in this forum, never having to stop for fuel is better than getting to stop for fuel.
     

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