I really don’t “get” the argument about range anxiety. I know it’s the single most quoted “reason” that people don’t buy EVs, but I see it as a lame excuse, thrown into the discussion (repeatedly) by the Petroleum Industry lobby.

My first foray into EV ownership was the 2014 BMW i3, which I bought in September 2020: it had an all-electric range of around 75 miles (more like 65 in winter conditions), and only came with Level 2 charging capability (which meant I could charge it from my 240 volt outlet in my carport in around 3 hours). It DID have a Range Extender (REx), which is actually a 650 cc (BMW motorbike) engine with a 1.9 gallon fuel tank. This does NOT drive the wheels in any way: it is purely used as a generator to top up the battery, should it drop below a certain level. It might be worth pointing out that I bought a BlueTooth OBD2 plug-in diagnostic toolBlueTooth OBD2 plug-in diagnostic tool and purchased a useful piece of iPad software from BimmerCode which allowed me access to the operating system of the i3 so I could alter a number of key items.

  • First, I made it start up in “eco” mode (the i3 defaults to “comfort” mode, which uses more energy).
  • Second, I was able to get it to address all 2.4 gallons in the fuel tank (to comply with the strict California regulations regarding electric cars, and their add-ons, the gas tank in America is digitally limited to 1.9 gallons: in Europe they are able to address all 2.4 gallons in the tank). This hack allowed the Range Extender to run for an additional 15 miles or so, giving it an additional 90 miles of realistic range extension. That said, I don’t think I used the REx more than 4 times in the 2+ years I owned the i3 (over 20,000 miles).

Given that, statistically speaking, a vast majority people don’t drive more than 70 miles in a day, the BMW i3 would suit their needs perfectly. Now, I actually do quite a bit of long-distance driving: gigs etc. When I first purchased the i3, I was also driving a Kia Niro hybrid, which allowed me the luxury of driving long distances (at around 50 mpg). This gave me true flexibility. I drove the i3 round town, and used the Niro for longer journeys. I worked out the i3 actually cost me (on average) around 2.4¢ a mile to run. The only maintenance during the 2+ years I owned it consisted of yearly tyre rotation and system check at BMW of Nashville. Exceptionally low-cost motoring!

In May 2021, I traded in the Kia for a 2-year lease on a Tesla Model Y (long-range). This was quite a big shift, and did require a bit of re-thinking, especially when it came down to longer trips. That said, Tesla’s built-in software is incredibly intuitive, and actually helps you plan your trip around their (excellent) Supercharger network. I would charge the Tesla to 100% at home (level-2) the night before a long journey, type in my destination in the morning, and the GPS would tell me where I was going to stop, and for how long. It might be worth mentioning right now that most EV manufacturers recommend not charging to 100% all the time. Doing so can create a certain amount of “battery stress” which will lessen the range over a period of time.

From a personal point-of-view regarding range, I can generally drive for a little over 3 hours before I need a pit stop! On a few occasions, my need to stop has been finely balanced between the Supercharger and my own bladder (most of the time, I‘ve been able to make it to a Supercharger before the need to stop for a Nature-break)! SO: I can easily cover 220-230 miles at a stretch. Plus, the current Supercharger network is constantly being added-to, and upgraded. My local Supercharger, which until recently only boasted 8 bays, often resulting in cars lined waiting to charge, has now been upgraded to 24 bays, all of them at the ultra-high 250KWh charging speed. There are very few places in North America where you need to drive more than 50 miles to find a Supercharger. I’ve noticed that, if a charger en-route becomes overly busy, the GPS will automatically re-direct me to a less-populated one.

There are a couple of other (non-Tesla) networks: Electrify America, ChargePoint, EVGo, Blink. The closest to Tesla’s network is Electrify America. This network was actually built using the fine from Volkswagen’s notorious “DieselGate” ruling (thank you, VW, I think!). These are often in the parking lots of Walmart, Sam’s Club etc…
Their network is starting to resemble Tesla’s, in terms of both availability and spread. In fact, some of them are only a mile or two from existing Tesla Superchargers.

ChargePoint are also building a fast-charge network. Up until recently, they were predominantly supplying Level-2 chargers at parking lots, shopping malls etc. But I believe they received some of the new government incentive payouts and agreed to use those funds to improve & upgrade their network.