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Explaining Range Anxiety and the Future of EVs

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Range anxiety threatens to jeopardize the nascent electric vehicle (EV) revolution and imperil critical climate goals as the world confronts dangerously rising temperatures. 

While there’s been encouraging news around electric vehicle sales in certain parts of the world, including China and Europe, a significant percentage of consumers remain hesitant to invest in EVs due to cost and battery life, with the latter the main cause of so-called “range anxiety.” 

For EV manufacturers, range anxiety can imperil future growth and limit the world’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rural and underserved regions, which have been dubbed “charging deserts,” are especially impacted. The absence of this needed infrastructure not only stalls the EV transition, but intensifies concerns of being stranded when a car runs out of power.

In the push toward electric vehicles, manufacturers and companies can leverage real-time data insights on sustainability narratives to enact more informed energy initiatives, advocate for needed infrastructure, and motivate necessary environmental protection policies.

What Is Range Anxiety?

Range anxiety generally refers to concerns over EV battery life and the lack of charging infrastructure, which is critical if corporations and governments want to reduce transportation-related emissions. On an individual level, range anxiety is what EV drivers experience when far from a charging station or stuck in traffic as their vehicle’s battery drains, leading to fears they will become stranded. While owners of vehicles with internal combustion engines—which accounts for the majority of cars and trucks on the road—might experience similar apprehension when the dreaded fuel light activates, they are often able to find a gas station more easily than someone searching for an electric vehicle charging port.

Additionally, it requires markedly less time to fuel an internal combustion vehicle than charge EVs. Level 1 (slow) EV charging ports take around 11 to 20 hours to fully charge a vehicle (at four miles of driving range per hour of charge) and Level 2 requires around three to eight hours (averaging 32 miles of driving range per hour). For reference, the standard EV gets about 250 miles on a full charge, with some Teslas topping off at 350 miles. 

Range anxiety generally refers to concerns over EV battery life and the lack of charging infrastructure, which is critical if corporations and governments want to reduce transportation-related emissions.

While nearly two-thirds (62%) of Americans surveyed by nonprofit Pew Research Center support using federal funds to create a network of EV charging stations to combat climate change, range anxiety (35%) was one of the most common reasons for not purchasing an EV. Other reasons included lack of fast charging stations (37%), increased cost (33%), inability to charge at home (30%), and concerns about battery life (26%).


The Electric Vehicle (EV) Market

Range anxiety is a significant hindrance in EV manufacturers’ attempts to expedite the transition to renewable energy sources, especially in more rural markets fraught with ​​“charging deserts.”

Many rural and underserved communities lack publicly available EV charging stations, rendering those regions and countries unable to support emerging infrastructure and at risk of being “left behind” in the transition to EV, warns Congressman and House Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott concerning parts of rural America. 

In 2020, China also had eight times as many publicly available EV chargers than the nearest major country—with 498,000 slow and 390,000 fast—powering 4.5 million electric vehicles nationwide, according to findings from market and consumer data firm Statista. Closest behind is the United States, with 82,263 slow and 16,718 fast chargers; the Netherlands, with 63,583 slow and 2,047 fast; and South Korea; with 54,383 slow and 9,805 fast; among others, it continues.

While EV sales have made some encouraging progress in recent years—China tripling sales in 2021, and Europe by nearly 70%—these gains have been largely canceled out by increased SUV sales, according to an analysis from Paris-based global energy forum the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“Despite impressive growth in major markets, the sales of electric cars are not advancing at the same pace globally,” it reads. “China, Europe, and the United States account for roughly two-thirds of the overall car market but around 90% of electric car sales. In most other markets, electric cars account for less than 2% of overall sales, and in large developing economies such as Brazil, India and Indonesia, the share is still below 1% without any significant increase over the past year.”


The Future of EVs

A study by British oil company Castrol found the average person would consider investing in an electric vehicle provided it cost a maximum of $36,000, fully charges in around 31 minutes, and could travel at least 469 kilometers (291.4 miles) on a full battery.

Titled “Accelerating the EVolution: The Tipping Points to Mainstream Electric Vehicle Adoption,” the analysis sought to quantify and help solve challenges consumers face with making the switch to EVs.

Although data from studies and traditional methods such as these are effective in uncovering the root causes of such issues, they are often time consuming. Collective global health directly hinges on what organizations and world leaders do in the immediate future, making time a valuable commodity. 

In at least one of the next five years, there is a 50:50 chance the average annual global temperature will temporarily reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, according to a recent climate update from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic,” warns WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in the report. “It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet.”

Rather than investing weeks gathering data to inform policies, it is paramount EV manufacturers, policymakers, politicians, regulators, and governments achieve access to timely, precision analytics reflecting the immediacy of today’s environmental crisis.

Social understanding software such as Citibeats harvests unstructured data from social media commentary, forum discussions, blog posts, and more, generating insights about sustainability trends and narratives 90 days faster than traditional means.  

In the race to convert to more sustainable energy sources, these real-time trends can be analyzed on the platform’s dashboard to contextualize and help address the array of societal concerns about EV range anxiety. 

Leveraging these comprehensive, evolving insights empowers pertinent entities to devise more intelligently targeted initiatives to motivate the EV transition, advocate for more ports to eliminate “charging deserts,” and create more data-informed environmental policies.



Citibeats utilizes ethical AI for social understanding, interpreting unstructured commentary from social media, forums, blogs, and more, and generating real-time actionable insights. Our Sustainability and Social Risk Monitors shed light on millions of evolving conversations, empowering organizations, governments, and EV manufacturers with contextualized sustainability trends months earlier than traditional means.

Schedule a demo today to learn more.