top of page

First Person EV Anxiety

By Barry Rosenberg

Two years ago, my wife Lee and I took a road trip in our 2021 Tesla Model Y EV to Charlottesville, Virginia from our home in Denver.  We made side trips to see friends, family, and national parks along the way and I estimate we travelled about 4,000 miles on this trip.

I realize many people who are considering buying an EV fear that if they travelled long distances, they might run out of battery going from one place to another. However, while I am anxious about most everything in my life, I did not suffer from range anxiety on this trip. Perhaps Lee and I were a little cavalier, but we had taken many long trips around Colorado and a longer trip to the Grand Canyon before heading to Charlottesville.  The trips were relatively seamless because we had access to our GPS and knew where chargers were along the way.

Our Tesla has a range of approximately 300 miles, which allows for drivers to go significant distances between stopping to top up the battery. It is necessary to note that a “mile” on an EV is a calculation rather than a standardized measurement of distance. For example, if you are traveling at 80 miles an hour, have several passengers and/or pets in the vehicle, are going uphill, are exposed to headwinds, have low tire pressure and/or need heat or AC, you will suck up much of your battery unless you mitigate some of these factors as much as possible. 

About twice a week, we drive up to a mountain trail from Denver.  The actual distance from the city to the trail is roughly 40 miles.  The trail is at an elevation of 7700 feet, whereas our home in Denver is at 5280 feet. Even though the actual distance is 40 miles, the “EV milage” is around 60 miles. To assure I don’t suck up the battery, I use set an alarm before I make the trip to remind myself to charge the car. I usually have 200 miles of battery so if I use up 60 miles on the trip up, I should have 140 miles on my battery when I drive downhill.

Just as EV miles can be negatively impacted by environmental factors, so too can they be positively impacted. By going downhill from the trail to Denver, I get a “boost” to my battery of approximately 20 miles—so instead of 140 EV miles, I’ll have 160 to get me from the mountains back home.

  The Boy Scouts motto of “be prepared” is apropos when driving an EV, but modern technology allows the car to do much of this preparation for you.  On the trip back from Virginia, the car’s computer routed us to a charger maybe 100 miles away from where we were on the highway.  However, the weather changed suddenly, and a formidable headwind started to drain our battery. The car used its GPS to reroute us to a different charger, and we ultimately had enough battery from this charge to skip the previously-suggested stop.            

While my wife has dibs on the Tesla, I drive a Nissan Leaf EV.  The Leaf doesn’t have the range of the Tesla, but I love driving it. We are fortunate to be able to charge both EVs in our home garage. Being able to charge cars in our garage is like having our own gas station.  Consumer Report states that about 67% of EV users charge their vehicles in their own home, whether this is through parking in a garage or using a long charger cable to charge their car in their driveway or street.  There are also many public chargers that are available at grocery stores and shopping malls that patrons can use cheaply or free of charge.

  Just like any car, it is important to prepare for emergencies. Many EV companies have emergency services and operate 24/7. However, if you find yourself in the boonies and don’t have cellphone converge, you may want to buy or rent a mobile hotspot gadget. It would also be wise to carry a portable tire inflator and keep tabs on your tire pressure.

  If you are looking at buying an EV, you may want to formulate a list of questions for the car company or companies that hopefully will assist in addressing range anxiety.  It is also wise to take practice middle-length trips before embarking on a long-distance adventure. I recently got into a conversation with two friends who recently bought a non-Tesla EV. Tesla currently has a vast, yet proprietary network of superchargers that charge cars rapidly. While my friends saw a lot of superchargers, they had problems with finding charging stations for their non-Tesla EV.  Some of the chargers were not operating and taking a trip too far into rural areas was too risky for them to gamble on. Starting in 2024, other EVs will be allowed to use these Tesla superchargers, thus making long distance trips more accessible to a wider variety of EV owners.

            My first EV was a 2017 Nissan Leaf.  The range was approximately 100 miles.  My current secondary car is a 2023 Leaf that has a range of roughly 250 miles—a big difference over the years! I talked to a friend who, instead of buying a new EV, decided to lease one thinking that strides in technology would increase range over the years.  I believe she was eligible for a tax credit by leasing.

            Lastly, while I like the range of the Tesla and its capacity to drive in the snow, I am not wedded to the brand. There are more and more companies that sell EVs. Potential EV buyers should consider the ranges they plan to drive, the terrain they plan to drive in, and the cargo needs they may have for their vehicle. I tend to use my Tesla to do longer trips and drive my Leaf around the city. As EVs become more popular, their prices will decrease. Additionally, many states are offering tax credits and rebates for EV purchases, making them more affordable.   Our venture into EV ownership has been an eye-opening experience. Despite an initial learning curve, any concerns about range anxiety have been effectively alleviated by the supports built into the EV network and knowledge that our driving choices contribute to a more environmentally friendly footprint.



Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page