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Eat It, Range Anxiety! Data Tells The Truth About Electric Cars

A new infographic should put to rest everyone’s fears about electric cars.

Since the advent of the electric car consumers have been continually reassured that, no, in fact, you really probably don’t drive more than a few miles a day and an EV will be a totally acceptable transportation choice for you. And yet, the idea of range anxiety—that you will be left on the side of the road as your sad little electric car loses juice—persists. In this series of infographics from GE’s Ecomagination, the company aims to challenge some of our assumptions about EVs and driving habits in general.

Where we live affects how we drive. Certainly, a Nissan Leaf might not be the best option for someone in rural Montana who commutes 100 miles to work each day. But most Americans live in or near cities, and proximity to a city center causes your driving mileage to plummet. The average city dweller drives fewer than 30 miles a day:

That’s a whole day, but the average trip (after which—once we get more charging infrastructure in place—one would assume you could recharge) is under 6 miles. Trips over 30 miles make up just 5.5% of all trips:

A more interesting question about EVs is how we will charge them. Plugging in a fleet of cars to the grid, some argue, could overpower our already tenuous electrical system. GE data breaks down current electric car owners usage patterns about when they drive and when they charge:

As you can see, this fear about electric cars is more reasonabe than range anxiety. Between nine and midnight, we’re trying to plug our cars in at times when we’re also plugging in everything else. But this isn’t an insurmountable issue: It’s exactly what smart meters and smart chargers are for. As technology develops, you’ll plug your car in when you get home after work, but it won’t suck down power until the point at night when there is a large surplus of electricity.

There are, surely, still many challenges left before we can live in a world where electric cars are the de rigueur mode of transport. But it might be time to be a little less anxious about range and charging times. Take a deep breath, it’s under control.