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Anxiety Abound With Electric Car Owners & GM Strategy

Good Clean Tech just ran a piece about the newest affliction of electric car owners.  No, it is not static shocks (even though this makes sense in my mind), but fear over the driving in excess of the range of the vehicle.

Chevy Volt, Electric Car

Avelion and Tokyo Electric Power Co. performed a survey on electric car drivers habits last year.  What it found was surprising. Drivers of electric vehicles are unwilling to push their cars to the limits, usually going less then half of the maximum distant on a full charge.  The study included a specific group of drivers and one charge station.  Some drivers were so worried about being stranded that they would not go over 10 miles from the nearest charging station.  As an additional charging station came online, drivers were willing to go much farther.

So what does this mean.  Well according to the researchers there must be a highly developed charging infrastructure for people to buy and drive EVs and this infrastructure is the only way to alleviate range anxiety.  They proposes a huge increase of charging stations to match the number of electric car owners on the road.  So if there is a million electric car drivers there must be a million electric charging station.  Somehow I doubt this will come to pass as our economy recovers from a devastating recession.

Even though this research is finally being publicized, I believe many other car companies did similar studies and came to the same realization.  Or at least one, GM.  GM created a hybrid gas-electric engine in their new Volt.  Could this have been done because the car company new that many would be apprehensive to drive far with their new electric car, thus shrinking their consumer base?  Possibly.  It seems likely that GM found similar findings in their own market research and projected expansive electric charging infrastructure would not be around at the initial launch of their vehicle.  Therefore, it is best to go with a hybrid approach, allowing drivers the option to go on long trips where charging stations may not be prevalent.  *cough*Montana*cough*.  As more charging stations came online the gas components could be phased out.  This seems to be something of an aberration in GM's strategy, a good idea.