I just got back from a 4,400 mile road trip and I’m here to point out that even if you don’t drive an electric vehicle, you can suffer from range anxiety.
One of the complaints we internal combustion engine people have about battery-powered vehicles is their limited range and the apparent difficulty of finding a place to charge those batteries while on a road trip, such as my recent trip from the Nevada to -Michigan and back.
In fact, I’m one of those people who think electric vehicles make a lot of sense to a lot of people, especially if there could be a way to recharge the batteries as easily and quickly as we fill the gas tank of our cars. petroleum vehicles.
Not that our more traditional vehicles are immune to range anxiety.
I traveled in my 2020 Nissan Frontier, a V6-powered crew-cab pickup truck that on my recent 4,412-mile round trip, done mostly on interstate highways, averaged 22 mpg.
Only once did I run the tank to the point where the silly “fuel needed, silly” light shone, but that was while I was traveling through long open stretches of New Mexico and the Oklahoma, and a few times I saw signs that there would be no service for the next 40 miles or so. So yes, there were still moments of range anxiety.
It can be even worse when I don’t have a busy schedule, when I can avoid the freeways and travel as I prefer, like we did as a kid on family vacations – two-lane roads through the prairies and further up and down the mountains.
See the United Statessang Dinah Shore. William Least Heat Moon wrote about the blue highways. I once did a trip from Michigan to Montana and back that only included about 20 miles of freeway, and it was in Wyoming where I couldn’t find an alternate route.
the Cars film lamented how highways ruined the economies of small towns. Add to that the businesses closed during the recent pandemic and fuel can be increasingly difficult to come by.
Recently, on a trip to Colorado and back, I discovered another problem. One road was closed due to a landslide and another had a bridge. In both cases, that meant long detours of 90 minutes or more, and in one case on a remote road devoid of gas stations.
One night on my last trip, I checked my email and saw a report from one of the automakers that their new electric vehicle would have a range of 400 miles. I remembered this report the next day when I noticed my trip odometer, which reminded me that I had driven 360 miles on the fuel I was about to replace.
Hmm, I thought. An EV that can go 400 miles and my truck needs to be filled up even sooner. Epiphany: Perhaps there is something to consider regarding the next revolution of electric vehicles.
Ah, but there remains the question of where to charge, though I was pleasantly surprised the morning I visited the Heart of Route 66 automobile museum and discovered four Tesla charging stations in the parking lot.
On the other hand, I’ve seen reports of people at Tesla road rallies queuing up for blocks to plug into the few units available in a small town.
And I remember driving an electric vehicle that supposedly had a range of about 100 miles, but at 70 mph on the highway I drove an hour and then had to use the backup mode . Once home, it had to be plugged in all night in my garage to replace the electricity I had used up in an hour’s drive.
I wonder what my anxiety might be about attempting my annual (and sometimes semi-annual) trip to the desert of southwestern Michigan.
On the other hand again, there was that time a few years ago in western Kansas when I was running too low early one morning when that “refuel” light had been on for too many miles as I reached a small rural town where I was frantic because I couldn’t find a gas station. I was desperate enough to risk driving down residential streets, hoping to find someone who could direct me to a gas station.
I spotted a man who appeared to be getting into his car on his way to work. I stopped in his driveway, turned off my window, and explained my fate. He smiled, said he was on his way to the only train station in town and I should follow him. I did, apparently over the fumes.
As I gratefully refilled my tank, he walked into the station…and came out with two cups of coffee to go. One for him, the other he handed me, along with a wish for a safe trip home.