Beyond EV range anxiety – keeping the e-mobility revolution rolling

Robin van den Berg
Fri Sep 11 2020
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Beyond EV range anxiety – keeping the e-mobility revolution rolling

Robin van den Berg
Product Marketing Automotive
Fri Sep 11 20206 min read
Beyond EV range anxiety – keeping the e-mobility revolution rolling
With interest in electric vehicles soaring, we’re gradually moving towards a cleaner and more sustainable future. But how do we make EV adoption safe and trustworthy for everyone?
Have you heard of the Orkney Islands? With one of the largest concentrations of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the UK, this archipelago off Scotland’s north coast has an infrastructure network to make the entire mainland green with envy. It has 41 recharging points for users to choose from, costing as little as £2 to drive the 60 miles from the island’s north to south, on a typical charge.

The rest of the UK can’t yet match this density of coverage. Yet more people are buying EVs, with more than 265,000 models estimated to be on UK roads at the end of December 2019. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that plug-in models make up 8.2% of total new car registrations, with pure electric models making up 4.9%, to around 44,708 vehicles in 2020 up to August.

The science behind EV’s environmental benefit is irrefutable. Road transport pollution is responsible for 17% of all CO2 emissions caused by humans. Electric vehicles reduce harmful vehicle emissions by up to 30% when operating with energy generated from fossil fuels, and up to 70% with renewable energy.
Using an EV can greatly reduce harmful emissions
Using an EV can greatly reduce harmful emissions.



The hurdle of EV range anxiety

Range anxiety? It’s the fear of running out of power on a journey and not being able to find a charging point. This fear is the major stumbling block to greater EV adoption. It has more to do with psychology than the actual range or charging infrastructure. The average EV range increases by around 15% each model year and the infrastructure for physical charging points is constantly expanding.

Range anxiety helps explain why the demand for electric vehicles is still very much driven by a ‘push’ from government and manufacturer incentives, rather than ‘pull’ from customer demand. We’re still waiting to see the mass groundswell of adoption that the industry needs.



Charging up for an EV revolution

The global pandemic in 2020 cut traffic flow dramatically and, with it, emissions. The benefits and importance of a sustainable and cleaner way of moving have become even more evident. EVs are a major contribution to the solution.

EV development, however, relies heavily on government incentives. While the pandemic has crippled EV growth for some countries, others have had a significant increase. For example, EV growth has declined at the same rate as combustion engine vehicles in the USA. But there has been a significantly larger 42% decline of EV growth in China due to the additional impact of subsidy reductions. Europe on the other hand, has had significant growth as a result of emission reduction targets and grants, despite the pandemic. For example, the UK announced a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles on the roads by 2035. More immediately, some countries introduced low emission zones that will heavily penalize vehicle manufacturers who break carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits.

This means that despite setbacks, we can still increase EV sales – which bodes well for the future.

The reduced emissions we’ve seen in 2020 are good, yet temporary according to studies. This is why we need to push for a faster transition towards electric vehicles.



A closer look at EV range

95% of day-to-day drives are well within an EV’s range – a short commute, trip to the shop, or seeing friends or relatives. For most people, journeys beyond an EV’s range are only made once or twice a year – on annual holiday or seasonal trips around the new year.

But widespread charging stations are still essential. Ubiquitous access helps EV adoption. The Netherlands, one of the best countries in Europe to drive an EV, has recognized this. It's a relatively small country with many destinations nearby, yet the government is stimulating the infrastructure network and installing numerous EV charging points. It also helps EV owners directly by installing charging points close to an EV owners’ home, upon request, if there’s not one already nearby.
Access to charging stations plays a huge role in EV adoption
Access to charging stations plays a huge role in EV adoption.



Elevation, weather, traffic and most of all, speed, all play a role in an EV’s achievable range on a single charge. When planning a route, it is vital to know the driving conditions on the day and even the style of the driver sitting behind the wheel. Having a heavy accelerator foot will have a large effect on an EV’s effective range.

From this data, technology can help plan a journey. Knowing the information in advance is vital to strategic and safe route planning. Providing accurate range information is therefore essential to increase trust in EV adoption.



Beyond electric charging points and range capacity

At TomTom, we strive to provide peace of mind to drivers. That includes taking the psychological obstacle of range anxiety away from EV driving. We do this by providing the best way to reach any destination, within or beyond a vehicle’s range. We also help the driver choose the best time and place for charging, based on availability, charging speed and user preferences.

Having in-dash navigation systems with connected services technology provides the best user experience. It tells the drivers if their favorite destinations can be reached without having to recharge and shows the charging options available to them – incorporating compatibility with their vehicles and real-time availability (i.e., which charging points are currently available).
An EV can anticipate and optimize its energy management better with knowledge of the road ahead.
An EV can anticipate and optimize its energy management better with knowledge of the road ahead.



Advanced road knowledge is vital for car manufacturers. With knowledge of the road ahead, an EV can anticipate and optimize its energy management. For instance, it can pre-condition the battery to increase charging speed if the driver is heading to a fast charge station. A hybrid vehicle can also drain the battery going uphill, if it knows it can recuperate charge going downhill on the other side.



Looking down the road ahead

Drivers feel reassured when they know what is coming up. With clear route planning, visibility of charging stations and free charging points, drivers are reassured of a smooth journey. This removes much of the doubt and psychological barriers around driving an EV.

Real-time maps showing the key attributes of the road ahead, including speed limits, gradient, traffic jams or diversions, adds to the reassurance that the car can handle the range. If push comes to shove (and we hope you’ll never need to shove) then TomTom technologies can also plan contingencies to ensure you’ll never end up stranded on the side of a road.

If reassurance is needed to boost the EV car market’s fortunes, TomTom can provide the data and information drivers need. Rest assured, the electric vehicle revolution is coming. We just need to ensure both the technology and infrastructure are ready for it.
Want to learn more about our EV charging availability services?

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