A nagging problem with electric vehicles is range anxiety: the creeping suspicion that you might not make it to the garage before your batteries die.
Now a study published in Nature Energy concludes that most people rarely go farther than a single charge allows and that a significant minority practically never do. That opens up a big segment of the car market—and that’s just with today’s batteries. Tomorrow’s will be far more capacious.
Jessika E. Trancik and colleagues at the Santa Fe institute and MIT modeled driving behavior in a new way, by collating databases. From the National Household Travel Survey they obtained information on a large number of trips by all sorts of cars, not just EVs. To characterize the second-by-second velocity of each kind of trip, they referred to a set of GPS-based measurements. Finally, to account for energy consumed in heating and cooling, they factored in a historical database of local weather conditions. This gave them a range of probabilities for the distance traveled and the battery capacity used.