Because it takes longer to fill up an electric vehicle than to fill a gas tank, and because EV infrastructure is still limited, the most common criticism of EVs goes something like “OMG RANGE ANXIETY.” And, sure, no one wants to get stuck in their big metal bucket on the side of a highway until a tow truck can haul your ride to the nearest charger. But two Columbia Ph.D. students have parsed real actual data (from the National Household Travel Survey) to show that, in the daily lives of most people, range anxiety just shouldn’t be a thing.
The first conclusion Garret Fitzgerald and Rob van Haaren present is that 95 percent of all individual trips (i.e. one-way trips) are shorter than 30 miles. But they concede that this is maybe stupid: “The one-way trip distance distribution may not be a good indicator of the necessary range for an electric car.” People want to get back home, right? No worries! They also analyzed the full distance that cars traveled in a day, and 93 percent of them went less than 100 miles.
That’s at the higher end of the range for most EVs now, but it’s certainly possible to get a car that can handle that. And it won’t take a major leap in technology to make that sort of range more common in the near future.