ENERGYCAST: Can electric vehicles overcome range anxiety?

I wanted to do an Electric Vehicle (EV) episode, but instead of focus on the technology, I thought it would be more interesting to talk about the efforts to sell the public on the technology.

Electric Vehicles are clean, efficient, and require very little maintenance.  Our guest this week, Lisa Poger, is a project manager and lead on North Carolina’s Plug-in NC program.  She owns an electric vehicle, and tells me the only “maintenance” she’s had to do on the car in 4 years is replace the tires.

The biggest hurdle for consumers, according to Lisa, is “range anxiety”–the fear that a driver could become stranded due to the constraints of the battery.  Lisa says nearly every EV on the market today has a range well within the distance necessary to get to and from work each day.  For long road trips, EV’s have a “DC fast charge” option that allows them to decrease the “fill up” time.

Lisa says economics–not the environment–are the main drivers for most consumers to go electric.  Some environmentalists have criticized the fact that EV’s are powered from electricity generated from coal.

We also discussed the opportunity for electric utilities to gain more market share by consumers switching to EV’s. If natural gas companies can switch buses and fleet vehicles to CNG, are electric alternatives viable?


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