87% of Drivers Could Switch to Electric Car With Little Hassle

Almost all daily driving needs fall within once-a-day charging range
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2016 11:13 AM CDT
87% of Drivers Could Switch to Electric Car With Little Hassle
A Nissan Leaf charges up.   (Photo by John Amis/Invision for NRG/AP Images)

Drivers are generally leery of electric cars over the simple fear that the battery's charge will run out and leave them stranded. But now researchers from MIT and the Santa Fe Institute report in Nature Energy that range anxiety is overblown in the vast majority of the US. They used the Nissan Leaf for the study—at $29,000, a relatively affordable alternative to pricey Teslas—and concluded that it has a "real-world range" of 73 miles, reports Ars Technica. (That's less than the advertised range because it takes into account air conditioning, etc.) Bottom line: “What we found was that 87% of vehicles on the road could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available today, even if there’s no possibility to recharge during the day,” says MIT's Jessika Trancik, per the Washington Post.

The figure rises above 90% in the city and bottoms out at 81% for rural driving. Of course, range isn't the only barrier when it comes to widespread adoption. Drivers would still need to figure out alternatives on days when an EV vehicle won't do—long business trips or vacations, for example. One researcher suggests car-sharing programs could help with that, though he acknowledges that would require "further business innovation." Still, they conclude that the excuse that an electric car's range doesn't cut it is, for almost everyone, just that—an excuse. (The 2017 Tesla Model 3 has reached "unprecedented" sales.)

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