The term ‘range anxiety’ has crept into our vernacular as the number of electric vehicles on the roads in North America steadily increases. JD Power describes range anxiety as, “what an electric vehicle (EV) driver feels when the battery charge is low, and the usual sources of electricity are unavailable sparking a fear of getting stranded somewhere, which adds time, inconvenience, and stress to a journey”. A Canadian non-profit, Pollution Probe, sponsored a research project led by Environics Research called Electric Mobility Adoption and Prediction (EMAP). The objective of the research is to help accelerate the adoption of EVs. The research findings show that the main barrier to adoption relates to ‘range anxiety’. Two of the main factors impacting range anxiety are battery technology and charging infrastructure.
The good news is that battery technology is improving year by year and the EV range has increased significantly over the past decade. According to Canada Energy Regulator, “between 2013 and 2019, the average EV model range increased from 219 km to 386 km. Battery technology improvements are the main driver of the EVs’ increasing range.” CAR magazine published an article entitled, ‘The Longest Range Electric Cars of 2021’ and the ranges listed are between 476 k and 725 km – an impressive increase from the average battery range in 2011 of 80 km. Not only are battery ranges improving, but the number of available models is impressive. The Canadian Automobile Association publishes a list of all available electric vehicle models including Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs).
Battery ranges may be improving; however, for long cross-country journeys, consumers need more than just a robust battery range. They need a reliable and available charging infrastructure in even the most remote areas. In Canada, there are approximately 5,300 public charging stations offering 12,500 chargers. More than 2,200 of these chargers are DC fast chargers. Across the border in the U.S., there are four times as many stations housing 69,000 chargers, twenty percent of which are fast chargers. In December of last year, Justin Trudeau made a speech calling for an additional 5,000 stations along highways and in rural areas. According to Electric Autonomy, the number of chargers in Canada were up almost 15% between March of 2020 and February of 2021 and the number of fast chargers, “has risen by over 400 since March — a 22 percent increase — which is the most crucial number for EV drivers with long distances in mind.” So, not only is Canada’s charging network growing, but the Federal government, through Natural Resources Canada as well as some provincial governments, is making the needed investments to make it possible to provide the infrastructure needed to meet the stated target of 100% zero emissions light duty vehicle sales by 2035.
In the meantime, as the infrastructure grows, there are ways to reduce range anxiety amongst fleet drivers by encouraging overnight at home charging. This can be done with a fleet policy that reminds fleet drivers of the time to charge their vehicle and makes clear any reimbursement process. For employees who do not have access to at-home charging, installing charging stations at key business locations can ease employee concerns of where to find their next charge. Learn more about federal and province charging installation incentives here. For longer hauls, route planning and careful identification of charging stops make the journey possible.