Is electric car range anxiety diminishing?

In the five years that modern electric cars have been widely available, range anxiety has been one of the biggest issues for consumers. The relatively short ranges and long charging times of most electric cars induce worries about getting stuck, and no one wants to think about that.

But the situation may be improving. While 2015 was a slow year for electric-car sales, Navigant Research believes sales will bounce back in 2016, in part because carmakers are steadily working to address consumer concerns. Companies are backing the installation of more charging stations, and getting ready to introduce longer-range models, Navigant notes.

A (small) survey conducted by the research firm also indicates that range anxiety may already be less of a concern for consumers than it once was. Out of 14 survey respondents who currently own an electric car, none cited range as the main drawback. Respondents seemed more concerned with a perceived lack of public charging stations. More than one third of respondents considered it the primary drawback to owning an electric car, and that group included three of the actual electric-car owners.

This shows that long ranges may not be entirely necessary to attract more electric-car buyers, argues Autos Cheat Sheet. The car site notes that data collected by General Motors showed that first-generation Chevrolet Volt drivers covered 80 percent of mileage on electric power alone, and that version of the Volt only had a 38-mile electric range.

And of course, improving range is a priority for manufacturers. The second-generation Volt has an electric range of 53 miles, and Chevy will start production of the 200-mile, all-electric Bolt EV before the end of this year. Tesla is readying its 200-mile Model 3, and Nissan is expected to increase the range of the LEAF to around 200 miles with a redesigned model that will appear in the next couple of years.