From the Blog

Range Anxiety:
Will You Make it in Time?

30

MARCH, 2017

Imagine you just ate buffalo chicken wings for an appetizer, a main course of day old crab cakes and broccoli, along with a bowl of 5 alarm chili with extra beans. You washed it down with an ice-cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. You leave the restaurant and start driving. You are in a rural part of the country, and small towns are few and far between. The clock says 1 0 pm and as you drive you notice that everything in these little towns   is closed for the evening. Stores, gas stations, fast food places. Everything is closed. You are tired and are eagerly looking forward to all the conveniences and comforts of your home.

Then you start to feel that all familiar nervous feeling in your stomach. You brush it off, but it returns. You start to question if the crab cakes at a roadside diner in the middle of the country was a wise decision. You press on. As you continue down the road, you think more about it. Then you start to sweat. You crank up the A/C, but it doesn’t seem to help. Then your car shudders and the A/C quits. It’s broken. You roll down your window, thankful to get some fresh air because for the past 15 minutes you have been reliving the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles. When you roll down the window, the summer heat hits you like a furnace blast. It’s still 90 plus degrees with almost 100% humidity. The heat and humidity only make things worse. Your   skin is clammy, you’re sweating, and  your hands are gripping the steering wheel making your knuckles as white as the frothy foam on your PBR from dinner. You glance at the dashboard and calculate how many miles you have until you are home.  You do the math.

You are coming up on a small town. One blinking yellow light. You glance furiously to the left, then to the right. You slow to 20 mph, peering at every structure looking for one. Disappointed, you press on.

You are still 1 hour and 45 min away from home. You think for a moment, and convince yourself you can make it without needing to stop. You flip on the tunes, hoping some music will help settle you and get your mind off your current situation. There are not many stations as you are in a remote area, but you hear one breaking through the static.   It is a country station.  You are in luck.  It is Johnny Cash.  “… and it burns, burns, burns…the ring of fire, the ring of fire.” You quickly turn the station, and there is an advertisement for the latest wonder drug for some bizarre condition. The announcer drones on ” … side effects include nausea, sweats, uncontrollable flatulence, cramps…” You turn off the radio as you fight the urge to panic.

You approach another small town. You’re not an overly religious person, but you make a deal with God. You look. Everything is closed and there isn’t one to be found. You look at the dashboard furiously doing the math in your head as to how long it will take to get home at your current speed. Your eyes are glancing at the dashboard and back to scanning the horizon, then back to the dash, and back to peering into the distance down the road, looking, searching, yearning to see something.  Nothing!

You start to panic. You grab your cell phone and look to see what is around you, but you have no signal. You are flying blind. “I am not going to make it” you say to yourself. Your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes short and quick, and your stomach is churning. You run through 100 scenarios in your head. A lonely tear falls down your cheek.

Then your phone blinks. You have one bar of service. You frantically open the maps app and furiously type. Your fingers feel like sausages, trying to pick up grains of rice. You hit search and watch the icon rotating, looking for a signal. The screen comes alive, and you see the search results.   Halleluiah there is one some ways up the road. It is going to be close, you might not make it, but you have no choice but to press on. You sing songs to yourself to distract your brain. You shift in your seat. Lean to the left. Then to the right. Then you hunch forward over the steering wheel. “Why did I do this?” you think to yourself.  “Why did I risk it?”

Then you see the lights. You listen to the woman’s voice on the GPS calling out the miles as if she is taunting you with her smug British accent. You whip into the parking lot, frantically undo your seatbelt, you leave the door open as you sprint around the car. You reach for the handle, and raise it with your hand. YES!!!!! You made it. You open the port and plug in your car. You did it. You made it to an electrical vehicle charging station. You just experienced what many other electric vehicle owners deal with on a regular basis: Range Anxiety.

range anx·i·e·ty

noun

informal

  1. worry on the part of a person driving an electric car that the battery will run out of power before the destination or a suitable charging point.

“range anxiety is often cited as the most important reason why many are reluctant to buy electric cars.”

You smile, and a feeling of relief washes over you. You will make it home tonight. You won’t be stranded on the road. Range anxiety is real. You face it every time you use your electric car outside of urban areas. However, battery technology is improving the range of electric vehicles and some states are taking the initiative to encourage more charging stations along interstates in non-urban areas. For example, this charging station didn’t exist a year ago but you are thankful that it is here.

You glance at your watch. You have 20 minutes until your car is charged. Across the street is an Applebee’s with late night happy hour. You think “MMMM, onion rings sound good” as you stroll across the parking lot.

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