You know that sinking feeling you get when the low fuel light comes on in your car and you are driving down a rural highway in the middle of nowhere? That is range stress – the fear that your car doesn’t have the remaining range to reach the nearest energy source.
Range stress is one of the primary bottlenecks in the spread of battery powered electric cars. Many current models can go almost as far as gasoline powered cars, but if there are no battery stations around, that still doesn’t help. If the range of the battery is 300 miles but there are only public battery stations every 1000 miles . . .
Many solutions have appeared to address this problem. There are apps that you can use to search for commercial stations and for P2P solutions. I read of one that allows you to search for a generous person willing to let you plug in at their home – as long as you are nice about it. Bring a bottle of good scotch with you and you are golden (I made this last part up, but you get the idea).
The results underline the importance of the human
factors perspective to overcome range anxiety and enhance sustainability of electric mobility systems.
Application: Trustworthiness should be employed as a key benchmark variable in the design of range
estimation systems, and assistance systems should target increasing drivers’ adaptive capacity (i.e.,
resilience) to cope with critical range situations.
They ran a field study with 72 drivers who leased an electric car for three months. They looked for factors that reduced range stress, with the objective to find ways to increase acceptance of these vehicles in the broader economy.
As you would probably expect, people who ran into trouble during the trial had increasing range stress afterwards. Those that did not had reduced range stress. Good experience with the dashboard range indicator reduced stress, which is a good sign because we know how to design effective displays. People who are tolerant of low range situations (by personality I guess) also had lower range stress.
I would be interested to hear about your experiences with range stress, either with gas-powered vehicles or electric. Is the limited range/limited filling stations something that keeps you from going electric?
Image Credit: Frank Hebbert