But when we talk about ‘range’, how far do we actually mean?
A recent study in the UK showed just how difficult it is to pin down an ‘ideal’ range. A third of motorists said they would accept up to 300 miles as the range that would entice them to buy an electric vehicle. The same number demanded up to 400 miles on a single charge, with the remaining third waiting for 400-1,000 miles.
Such wild variation is likely to be the result of how different people expect to use their cars in different ways.
If charging stations were distributed like our existing filling station network, a range of around 400 miles could potentially replicate the way traditional cars are used today. Yet, satisfaction with a much shorter range suggests possible change in the outlook of drivers.
In the US, the average driver travels just 29 miles each day with almost all journeys being made for running errands, social meetups, and commuting to work. People regularly making these sorts of journeys might be willing to accept a car the delivers a much shorter range, as it would suit their needs.
It’s interesting that most of those responding to the Mini study felt the best use of an electric vehicle was either for commuting or driving in an urban area – in other words, lower distance journeys.
If the way to encourage adoption of electric vehicles is as a second car that’s just used for shorter, basic journeys, then it seems a good proportion of people are ready to get behind that idea.