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Overcoming EV range anxiety with electric vehicles

Published on June 21, 2022 in Electric Vehicles by Lindsey Hall |  5 minute read


Are you worried that your electric vehicles won’t go the distance? Read how to overcome range anxiety related to EVs.

An increasing number of fleet managers are becoming interested in electric vehicles (EVs), spurred on by the promise of lower operating costs and the ability to reduce their environmental impact. With zero tailpipe carbon emissions, battery electric vehicles (BEV) are an attractive option for city-based fleets, where local authorities are enforcing more stringent air quality standards on vehicle operators. However, despite this growing interest, a 2019 survey by Kia Motors found that 80 percent of fleet managers were held back from actually making the switch due to range anxiety.

What is range anxiety with electric vehicles?

Range anxiety is the fear that the EV won’t have sufficient charge to complete its duty and is still perceived to be one of the greatest barriers preventing fleets from going electric.

 

Early models of electric vehicles had a poor reputation for their real-world mileage range between charges. Drivers were often finding that they couldn’t get much more than 70 miles from a fully charged battery, despite the manufacturers’ claim that a far greater mileage was possible. This tainted the image of the electric vehicle market and to some extent it’s still shaking it now.

 

Naturally, no fleet manager wants to have to worry about rescuing stranded employees and company vehicles, with the associated loss of productivity and recovery costs. You also don’t want to be dealing with your employees’ fears that the vehicle you provide them with will be unreliable and inconsistent. Managing vehicles that are used multiple times throughout the day, or on challenging routes can present further concerns.

 

But should a lack of battery range be a genuine worry if you’re considering the transition to electric vehicles? And what can you do to prevent it from being one?

What is the average range for an electric vehicle?

There have been significant improvements with lithium-ion batteries and as a result EV range has increased. There are now many light-duty EVs capable of completing a range of between 200–300 miles on a single charge.

 

The following EV models are just a small selection that have an estimated range over 200 miles and are available now:

While these models will be impacted by real-world driving conditions, their higher starting range means that their range will be notably higher than the early electric vehicle models. Considering that the average light-duty vehicle in North America covers only 43 miles per day, all of these vehicles have the ability to complete a whole week’s worth of driving between charges; or multiple journeys in one day if used as pool vehicles. 

What different factors can impact an electric vehicle’s range?

Although there are a number of factors that can play a role in an EVs effective range, they usually fall under three categories: driver behavior, temperature and battery health.

 

With traditional fuel vehicles, bad driving habits can reduce fuel economy. The same can be said for EVs. Speeding, harsh braking and rapid acceleration all use additional energy, which results in shorter range capabilities.

 

Temperature is one of the most commonly mentioned reasons for reduced range, however it is usually misunderstood. Lithium-ion batteries do typically perform worse in the cold, but EVs have advanced battery thermal management systems that keep them at the optimal temperatures. Some energy is used for these systems, but the majority of any range loss comes from energy being used to heat or cool the vehicle’s cabin.

 

All rechargeable batteries eventually lose the ability to store their full amount of energy and this is known as battery degradation. For an EV this coincides with reduced range over time. Fortunately, data shows that this decline in battery health is arguably minor with an average of 2.3% a year, meaning an EV with a 270 mile range would have an effective range of around 226 miles after 7 years.   

3 tips for maximizing EV range and reducing range anxiety

If you’re electrifying your fleet, follow these tips to get better range from your EVs.

1. Provide driver training

Your drivers are the key to getting the most range possible out of your EVs. A smooth driving style, driving at sensible speeds and limiting harsh acceleration or braking, contributes to better energy efficiency and further ranges. Training your drivers to preheat or precool the vehicle, while it is still plugged in, ensures that additional energy is not being wasted and can be used for driving. Finally, promote the use of the vehicle’s regenerative braking system. By enabling the car’s maximum regenerative setting and leveraging this energy-recovering function when coming to a stop, the driver will send the most power back to the vehicle’s batteries while decelerating, increasing its range.

2. Rightsize vehicles to their tasks

EVs might not make suitable replacements for every one of your Internal Combustion Engine ICE vehicles, but there will be many opportunities to save money by switching out those on suitable duty cycles.

 

For each vehicle and duty cycle, consider the conditions that they encounter. Is the terrain steep? Is it subject to extreme temperatures, either cold or hot? Factors such as these can put more of a strain on batteries and in turn impact the real-world range they can attain.

 

Also think about the maximum daily mileage that the vehicle will need to achieve (or mileage without rest at a designated center). What is the duty location and would the vehicle have proximity to appropriate charging infrastructure, whether that’s your own, or public?

3. Keep your vehicles well maintained

As with all vehicles, a robust preventative maintenance schedule helps to keep fleet operating costs down. In the case of EVs for example, maintaining the correct tire pressure can help get the best mileage out of each charge. Tire pressure can vary by an average of one PSI with every 10-degree Fahrenheit change in air temperature, so make sure to schedule tire pressure checks as the seasons change.

Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) for range assurance

Before committing to any fleet upgrade, fleet managers will look for hard data to support their future purchasing decisions. First, getting a complete overview of the current demands and costs of their operations, and then seeking data to show how transitioning to electric vehicles could save them money, while guaranteeing the same performance.

 

This is where the EV Suitability Assessment (EVSA) comes in, giving fleet managers the ability to identify the ideal candidates for replacing based on their unique duty cycles, and providing complete range assurance.

 

The EVSA uses existing fleet telematics data to analyze the current demands of your operations and then provides recommendations of the specific ICE vehicles that would be most beneficial to retire and transition to electric. The analysis considers both the financial impact and the range suitability of the switch.

 

The EVSA analyzes each vehicles’ driving history to provide range assurance and ultimately ease any concerns about range anxiety.

 

What you can learn from an EVSA:

  • What are the range requirements for each vehicle in my fleet?
  • Will the EV perform the same job and meet the range requirements of the current vehicle?
  • Will it be sufficient to only charge overnight?
  • Will the battery still perform in extreme weather conditions?

Armed with this data, you can confidently move forward with transitioning your fleet to electric, safe in the knowledge that range will never be a concern for you, or your drivers.

 

Are you ready to start your electrification journey? Check out our Fleet Electrification Knowledge Center for resources, tools and fleet success stories to help guide you get started.


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Disclaimer

Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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