Public Medication for Range and Charging Anxiety: Shifting the Narrative 

12. 09. 2023

“… And yet, when we think of EVs, we panic about that one annual road trip that takes us 200 miles away. This is the “once-a-year fear”—we fixate on the exceptions and overlook the rule. It’s a bit like planning your entire budget around Christmas shopping while ignoring daily expenses.” 

By: Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen

In the Grand Scheme of Things: Mobility’s Epic Tale 

Since the dawn of time, humans have yearned to move, to explore, to go beyond the horizon. The wheel wasn’t just a tool; it was a revolution that took us further than our feet ever could. Horses expanded empires, steam engines transcended borders, and combustion engines fuelled our modern societies. Now, we’re stepping into a new era that doesn’t roar but hums – a whispering promise of an electric future. But let’s pause and think. Why, when we’re on the edge of such a monumental shift, does a simple change in how cars are powered ignite a collective anxiety? 

Unveiling the Electric Elephant in the Room: The Narrative Surrounding EVs 

It’s a peculiar love affair we’ve had with gasoline. We live in a world where our computers, kitchen appliances, and even our toothbrushes are electrified. Yet, for so long, the combustion engine was the stalwart companion in our journey towards ‘mobility.’ 

In the early days of mobile phones, we were collectively fascinated by the idea of a device that could perform tasks beyond mere calls. Fast forward to today; your phone does everything from guiding you through unfamiliar cities to ordering your lunch. And not to forget: Nobody is annoyed by the “mobile” part of the mobile phone – although it requires charging.  

So, why the hesitation with electric vehicles? We’re tangled up in jargon – kWh, range, charge times – as if they’re elements from an alien periodic table. These are questions we never seem to tire of, yet statistically, they don’t hold as much water as we’d like to believe. 

Big Oil’s Masterclass in Storytelling: The Petro Industry and Their Spin-Doctors 

Let’s not kid ourselves—the fossil fuel industry has been a storytelling mastermind. With deep pockets and a far-reaching influence, they’ve crafted a narrative that makes gasoline cars seem like the only logical choice. Their potent lobbying and PR machine have effectively dead-ended any alternate conversation. They have also turned the question of EVs into a political debate – designed to polarise the discussion into a left and right axis.  

As more car manufacturers are shifting their focus to EVs, the oil giants have started pushing back, creating a perception that EVs are somehow lesser than their gasoline counterparts. Many may recall ExxonMobil’s poorly disguised attack on electric cars, a campaign that spotlighted cords and cables as a major (and real?) issue. Needless to say, finding that ad today is a challenge; it mostly exists as bootleg copies. 

We simply need to ask ourselves: Who stands to gain the most from maintaining the status quo? It’s time to look beyond the flashy commercials and start questioning the stories we’ve been told. 

The Once-a-Year Fear: Why Range Anxiety Is Overblown 

We often talk about the ‘strength of weak ties’—the idea that minor issues can have disproportionately major impacts. Range and charging anxiety serve as a prime example. We’re worried about a problem that statistically only affects a fraction of our driving experience. EU data from 2019 shows an average commuting time of 25 minutes in the car each way. If you drive a Tesla Model 3 quite aggressively, you could still make that commute for nearly nine days before needing a charge.  

And yet, when we think of EVs, we panic about that one annual road trip that takes us 200 miles away. This is the once-a-year fear – we fixate on the exceptions and overlook the rule. It’s a bit like planning your entire budget around Christmas shopping while ignoring daily expenses. We are storytelling creatures, and yet, we have allowed the wrong story to captivate us. 

Home is Where Your Charger Is  

Think about your phone. Imagine if you had to leave your house and travel for 5-30 minutes to a designated phone charging area every time your battery dipped below 10%. Charging your car is just as simple as charging your phone – at home. Plug it in before bedtime, and voila, you’re ready to hit the road in the morning. No detours to the gas station. It’s just an effortless ritual that slots into your daily routine. And this isn’t a knock on the need for better public infrastructure—we absolutely need improvements to make long journeys simpler. And getting a home charger should be hassle-free, no matter where you live. Thankfully, companies like Zaptec are stepping up to solve some of these issues. But the bigger narrative here is about recognising the opportunities that are already within our grasp. 

The Quiet Efficiency of Smart Charging 

The issue of capacity is a legitimate concern. Today’s geopolitical situation has uncovered a lot of issues. But even in this story, there are important nuances. Think of our power grid as a highway. During rush hour, it’s congested. Everyone’s using electricity, and we risk overloading the system. 

In the context of electric vehicles, the European power grid grapples with issues like peak load and capacity limitations. As more EVs hit the road, smart charging during off-peak hours will be the game-changer we need, easing the burden on the grid and making our move toward electric mobility smoother.  

And it fits right into the bigger picture of smarter energy use for a more sustainable future. Soon, it will also be a viable option to use Vehicle-to-Grid to turn our EVs into battery banks when there is a high percentage of renewable energy – for example.

The Long View: Perfection Shouldn’t Be the Enemy of Progress 

The pursuit of the perfect can often be the enemy of the good. Yes, EVs won’t single-handedly save our planet. Nobody believes that. True sustainability in the mobility sector will be a symphony of numerous solutions: biking, walking, public transport – and maybe even flying cars. But this complexity should not paralyse us. Even without being perfect, the proven environmental benefits of electric cars make them worthy protagonists in our fight against climate change and polluted cities. 

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