Getting Over “Range Annoyance”

We traded in our old plug-in hybrid (PHEV) for an battery only EV six months ago and I am now aware of how much I was suffering from what I call “range annoyance”.

The PHEV had 25 miles of EV range before the internal combustion engine (ICE) kicked on. EV mode in that car was so much nicer than when the ICE was running: Quite, smooth and seemingly more powerful. EV mode was a lot cheaper per mile too. So it really, really annoyed me when the ICE would come on, usually when homeward bound. Often only a mile from home. Thus “range annoyance”.

I took to carefully planning errands so that any one day would not exceed the EV range. Or, if exceeding the EV range was unavoidable then adding in all the deferred far from home errands I could to get them over in one trip.

Depending on weather, speeds, traffic, etc. the new EV gets between 200 and 300 miles per charge. There is no errand I have on a daily or even monthly basis that exceeds that.

I simply plug in the car when it is below about 40% and the next morning it is at 80% ready for another week or two of local driving. It is absolutely wonderful!

Just like the old non-PHEV gas only vehicles we had before the PHEV. Just get in the car and drive without worrying about micro-managing errands to avoid the expensive, noisy engine. Only this time I have the “filling station” located in my garage and the car fills up while I am asleep.

What About Range Anxiety?

I have a lot of decades of experience driving in the desert west. My first car, which I still have, gets about 14 MPG and has a tank that holds around 14 gallons for a maximum range of about 200 miles. Not that much different than the highway range of our new EV.

In the old days of paper maps and far fewer gas stations in remote areas it was no big deal to plan trips in advance:

  • You always left town with a full tank.
  • You looked on the map for towns along your proposed route that looked large enough to have a gas station.
  • You picked the towns to refuel based on the distance usual fuel consumption could conservatively manage.
  • You noted alternates if case fuel consumption was higher than expected, etc.
  • On the drive you monitored the fuel gauge and kept track of your progress to verify things were going per plan.

Most of this was informal. Just a matter of thinking about the drive and looking at the map for a few minutes before you left.

In some regards the EV throws me back to that era. Except this time there are route planning apps that can do the planning for you. And do more: They can tell you if the chargers are broken or in use and give you turn by turn instructions along with estimated battery charge on arrival, etc.

So, no. I haven’t yet had range anxiety. More like a high tech revisit to my youth.

But I can imagine that younger people or those raised the the more populous parts of the country who are used to having gas stations in every small town and having small towns very close together might suffer from range anxiety until they are comfortable with the EV trip planning tools.