An end to ‘range anxiety’?

An end to ‘range anxiety’?

‘How far will she travel between charge-ups, then?’ It’s the question that bedevils electric car sales people and owners alike. So-called ‘range anxiety’ is the one bugbear that, it’s generally agreed, is holding back sales of electric cars.

What range do electric car owners get?

Many of what’s currently on sale struggle to return much more than 100 miles between recharges in real-world driving. And, fully to comprehend the stress associated with running the battery flat, you need to experience having been caught in a motorway jam on a rainy December night, with your vehicle’s system urging you to recharge now, but knowing that such help is nowhere close at hand.

So far, manufacturers are making bold and confident noises about how, within a hands-span of years, they will market batteries and systems clever enough to double or even treble that current 100-mile range, while charge-ups will never take longer than it takes for the driver to relax and drink a cup of coffee.

What electric motor range are the car manufacturers targeting?

So far, Volkswagen, General Motors and Tesla promise that we’ll have affordable electric cars with a range of 300-plus miles soon. Tesla is , however, the only car-maker for now to put a date to its promise: 2017.

But what’s most interesting is that Renault-Nissan is keeping quiet on the subject at present. That seems highly unusual for the alliance, which, under its two main brands, markets a bigger range of everyday electric-only vehicles than any rival. And, Nissan, was among the very first to market with its Leaf, mid-sized hatchback.

Here’s company CEO Carlos Ghosn, interviewed by a Japanese business news TV channel.

Host: Is Nissan working on new batteries?
Ghosn: “Yes.”
Host: Can you tell us more?
Ghosn: “No.”
Host: Will the range double?
Ghosn: “Yes.”
Host: That means more than 400 kilometers?
Ghosn: “Yes.”

Other Nissan execs have added a little more promise to the plans, describing the breakthrough the company is close to as ‘game-changing’ and capable of pushing the issue of maximum range to the sidelines.

Until an announcement is made, however, sales of current models will stay modest.

One possible area of development is the use of new wonder-material graphene in battery technology. This, a newly discovered type of carbon graphite (as found in pencil lead) is heralded as the world’s thinnest and strongest material.

Developed by scientists at the University of Manchester, the material allows positively charged Hydrogen atoms to pass through it. This could massively improve the life of car batteries, because they generate power from hydrogen.

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