Range Anxiety Solved?

One of the concerns of purchasers of electric vehicles is that the range on a single charge is limited so they might run out of power before getting to their destination. This is known as “range anxiety”. With a typical practical range of 200 miles or less for less expensive electric car models, they do not match the distance achievable on a single tank of diesel or petrol. A Tesla Model 3 Long Range claims a range of 370 miles but at £47,000 list price it’s out of the affordability of many people even if running costs might be lower than a diesel/petrol vehicle. Longer ranges require bigger electric batteries and that makes the vehicle expensive.

But recent announcements suggest than in few years’ time the range of electric vehicles will be enormously improved. Mercedes have released a concept car named Vision EQXX that has a range of 1,000 km (625 miles) using a relatively small battery. They achieve this partly by making the vehicle very lightweight with a low drag coefficient but the battery and motor system are also improved.

Tesla have promoted a modified Model S with a new battery that is able to travel 1,200 km (750 miles) on a single charge. That’s more than even diesel/petrol vehicles with large capacity fuel tanks. The new battery is named “Gemini” which in production will be based on LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate, also known as LiFePo4).

These vehicles and batteries may be a few years away from volume production but you can see the way the trend is progressing. With fast charging times and more extended charging networks, many of the objections to electric vehicles will disappear.

Already for most people who can charge their electric vehicles overnight at home, the ranges provided on low-cost cars are sufficient for most daily purposes. While their running costs are lower and taxation benefits make them overall a better buy.

Roger Lawson

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Electric Cars – Government Encouragement and User Experience

The Transport Secretary has issued an announcement encouraging drivers to go electric. It includes the release of a new app that helps UK drivers see which electric vehicles would best suit their lifestyle. In addition there will be additional support to small businesses and renters to install EV charging points. See Reference 1 below for more details.

The free app is named EV8 Switch and I downloaded and tried it out. It is not exactly clear how to install it and after ten days usage and driving several hundred miles in total there was no apparent data to analyse even though it was clearly recording data. But it was obvious that it was consuming a lot of cpu cycles and running down the phone battery so I deleted it. If anyone else tries it with success, please let me know whether you found it useful.

Coincidentally I happened to meet up with a couple of people who I used to work with but had not met for 20 years. One had bought an electric bike plus a Jaguar XKR recently. The other had bought a Tesla Model S five years ago. He was exceedingly happy with it.

As a company car user he saves on tax and charging is very low cost – in fact although he can charge at home he does not do so because he can charge it for free at a Tesla Supercharger facility (free charging seems to be something only on offer for limited periods of time). He has never run out of power while driving it.

No doubt some readers will say that they cannot afford a Tesla – current list price of a Long Range Model S is £73,990 and a Model 3 is from £42,500. But prices have been falling and there are of course cheaper electric cars on the market (but new ones might be on long lead times). You do save on running costs even if the capital cost is high.

It is very clear that electric cars are perfectly practical for most car users and with shortages of petrol/diesel at filling stations because of the recent panic over fuel deliveries, they can have distinct advantages!

I will certainly be considering an electric vehicle when my current diesel car is due for replacement. I don’t switch vehicles very often because depreciation is the major cost of any car so it is best to only replace them when they become unreliable or expensive to maintain.

Roger Lawson

Reference 1: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/transport-secretary-encourages-uk-to-switch-to-electric-vehicles  

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