Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Whats Worse than Range Anxiety?

After three predictable commuting weeks within comfortable EV range/recharge, including one longer trip into NYC and back, I was getting used to the range limitations of the MiniE. Then came my trip to the Jersey Shore this past weekend. Granted, the logistics of this trip were a bit daunting - 65 miles down to my son's place in Belmar, then relying on the 120V recharge during my 7 hour visit, to get back home with the thirsty battery for a full recharge at home all day the following Sunday.

Well, the brain of an EV driver is constantly running the algorithm of descending capacity against remaining miles (Range Anxiety, or RA), and about half way back I realized the worst was coming to pass. Yes, thats right, Range Panic (RP). My Plan B was hastily activated, which meant pointing the MiniE slightly West and visiting my Mom's house for an overnight refresh (shaving 15 miles from the drive), and continuing home the next morning. Any port in a storm - which was exactly what was coming as I faced the lightning and storm clouds directly ahead.

Initially, the RP receded back to the relatively more pleasant RA state, but again, as I neared the final destination, that feeling came back with a vengance - and this time amidst a torrential downpour and lightning bolts surrounding me... I will STILL not make it. I needed 5 miles more range. My kingdom for a kilowatt-hour. Then I saw it - the Lukoil station with the outdoor Coke vending machine. My prayer was answered with an available second outlet, and I was soon left to my meditations amid the pounding rain on the roof of the MiniE for the 1 hour 20minute battery booster shot, looking at the pump with the $2.45/gallon offer just out of my grasp. I am now back on the predictable path, a wiser EV driver, with no serious consequences. But lesson learned. Know thy limits.


  1. You were a brave pioneer to drive the mini that far. Until battery technology improves to the point they are getting double or more the average 100 mile range most electric cars are confined to relatively short trips which is still fine for the average commute and city/town driving. I plan on using my electric for all city driving which constitutes 98% of my driving and my Camry for occasional longer trips.

  2. Thanks for the pioneer props teslaguy31, I totally agree that city and predictable short suburban commutes are perfect for these.

    My involvement with the Mid Atlantic grid interactive cars consortium (MAGICC) has allowed me to drive all electrics over the past 2 years - sometimes long distances - but the difference there was knowing there is a fast charging (Level2) point available along the route. Thats the intermediate game changer - if my son had the 240V48A (or even the 32A)charger, or there was a public one available near him, then the uncertainty would have been removed for the return trip. Its the low power (Level 1) 12A120V that introduces the "wait and guess factor" into the algorithm, and keeps you closer to home.

    Also, your point on having the gasoline backup vehicle is right on! Definitely will be my choice for the next beach trip... maybe even a convertible to go in style!

  3. I totally relate to the convertiblle idea. Ive got my 1953 Austin Healey gassed and ready for that next 200 mile round trip to the beach. Gas cars will probably always be part of the mix but with mass EV adoption they will become a much smaller part I hope. I agree 100% about the fast charge stations being a game changer. Here in Portland Oregon they are installing them all over the metro area and even down the I5 corridor to the mid valley.Enjoying your blog. Cheers!