Despite the increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs), a considerable number of Americans still have range anxiety. Experts say that focusing too much on having a large battery capacity might not be needed and could lead to wastage. We all need a new outlook at EV batteries to break the range anxiety. Statistics indicate that most journeys undertaken in the US are fairly brief, typically covering approximately 37 miles per day on average. Smaller EV batteries, charged overnight, can meet most drivers’ needs while decreasing resource consumption and environmental impact.
Range is the most commonly cited reason by Americans for not having switched to an electric car yet. Charging an electric vehicle is a different experience compared to refueling with gasoline. Fast charging typically requires a minimum of 20 minutes, while slower charging can take several hours. Many people are concerned about the possibility of being left without energy for their electronic devices, either because they are stranded in an unfamiliar place or because they have to share a charger with others.
So automakers have started producing ever more gigantic batteries, using large amounts of minerals to satisfy the American need for distance. The Lucid Air Grand Touring is an electric vehicle that can travel up to 516 miles on a single charge, making it one of the highest range EVs on the market. Toyota has made significant progress in solid-state battery technology, paving the way for the production of electric vehicles capable of traveling up to 746 miles on a single charge.
According to some experts, the vast range and battery capacity are irrelevant and lead to resource depletion. Did you know that more than 95% of all trips taken in the United States are under 30 miles in distance? Then why can’t range anxiety can be subsided? Most large batteries remain unused, especially when the owner can charge their car daily at a convenient place.
An industry analyst for AutoPacific, Robby DeGraff said, “People need to hit the pause button in terms of how much range they actually need.”
The fact that the American auto market favors larger vehicles has become a predictable observation. Cars manufactured in the United States are not only large, they are increasingly growing in size. This includes vehicles such as the imposing, square Hummer, as well as the enormous and stubby-nosed Ford F-150 pickup truck. The batteries on the electric F-150 Lightning are large; in fact, they’re massive in every sense of the word. Weighing in at an incredible 1,800 pounds, these batteries enable the car to travel over 300 miles on just one charge.
This distinctive feature, which is uniquely American, has been incorporated into electric vehicles as well. In the United States, the median range of an electric car was a mere 82 miles a decade ago. However, in 2021, it has drastically increased to 234 miles.
But is all that necessary? Americans drive frequently, but most of the journeys are short. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, around 95.1 percent of personal vehicle trips fall under the 31-mile mark, with almost 60 percent being less than 6 miles. On average, American drivers travel merely 37 miles per day.
According to a 2016 study conducted by MIT, researchers discovered that a car with a 73-mile range, such as an early version of the Nissan Leaf, could meet the driving needs of 87 percent of all days in the United States by only charging it at night. The study found that if Nissan Leafs were given to all drivers who fit the pattern, 61% of the gasoline consumed by US personal vehicles would be reduced. Adopting a new outlook at EV batteries to break the range anxiety is enhanced with such researches.
Jessika Trancik, a professor at the Institute of Data, Systems, and Society at MIT and one of the authors of the study said, “As long as you can get a good charge overnight, ‘the vast majority of trips are covered’ by electric vehicles.”
In many cases, drivers carry large batteries that are often underutilized, with only 10 to 15 percent of their full power being utilized. Additionally, the production of these large batteries necessitates extensive mining of metals, leading to significant harm to the environment and the health of workers. A typical EV battery needs approximately 18 pounds of lithium, 77 pounds of nickel, and 31 pounds of cobalt.
In general, electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than cars that run on gasoline. However, the extraction of the minerals required for EVs comes at a high cost.
Moreover, larger batteries will necessitate a greater amount of metals accordingly.
According to a report by researchers at the University of California at Davis, the Climate and Community Project, and Providence College, reducing the size of electric vehicle batteries to those that can power a small car for about 125 miles could result in a 42% decrease in lithium demand. Utilizing alternative modes of transportation such as trains, buses, or e-bikes has the potential to significantly reduce this number.
Thea Riofrancos, a professor of political science at Providence College and one of the report’s authors said, “We’re doubling down on the worse tendencies in our transportation sector in the mission of electrifying it.”
Dodge is planning to release the Ram 1500 REV in 2025. It will be an electric truck with a stylish design, offering a choice of a 229 kWh battery and a range of approximately 500 miles. DeGraff emphasizes that the resources required for producing that battery are about the same as those needed for manufacturing 16 batteries for the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. The Prius Prime, meanwhile, boasts a range of approximately 44 miles, making it ideal for the majority of daily driving needs in the United States.
Electric vehicles are a breakthrough in technology – it is natural for individuals to have concerns regarding charging, range anxiety, and adjusting to a unique driving experience. A plug-in hybrid can be an excellent choice for individuals who undertake frequent long road trips and prefer not having to rely on plugging in. However, for the majority of Americans, an electric vehicle with a moderate range will suffice perfectly.
In the words of DeGraff a new outlook at EV batteries to break the range anxiety to which he added, “You really need to slow down and see how much driving you do. The vast, vast majority of Americans are not driving 200-300 miles in a single day.”
Source Range Anxiety among EV Users