Skip advert
Advertisement
Tips and advice

Range anxiety: what is it and should you be worried?

Electric car range anxiety is when you’re concerned about running out of charge while driving. Here’s what to do about it

range anxiety

Range anxiety, which is when you feel worried about your car being unable to get you to your destination, isn’t a new phenomenon. After all, petrol and diesel cars have a limited amount of capacity in their fuel tanks, and you probably know someone who has run out of fuel at some point, causing a lot of hassle in most cases.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Yet in the era of the electric car, it seems like the term ‘range anxiety’ has become much more widespread, despite the fact that running out of battery power in an EV is rare. Why exactly is that?

Arguably the main reason why we seem to feel more comfortable driving with a fuel gauge heading towards empty – rather than being at the wheel of an electric car that’s about to run out of charge – is the world around us. Because petrol and diesel have been Britain’s main fuels for decades, our roads are littered with fuel stations where you can refill in a matter of minutes. Even if you’re somewhere unfamiliar, you can be fairly sure that a place to refill is close by. 

HeroHow to find EV charging stations

Yet that’s not always the case for electric cars. Yes, you can charge up using a three-pin plug virtually anywhere, but the time this takes is a huge barrier – it could take days to fully charge the car in this way. In addition, there aren’t enough rapid charging stations yet, so range anxiety arises from our fear of being unable to find a convenient solution to quickly top up again.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

However, as the world around us changes and more charging points open up, range anxiety will lessen. Supermarkets, petrol stations and even pubs are all installing more charging points and it’s not a stretch to expect that in ten years, you’ll be able to charge your car up virtually anywhere, just as is the case with refuelling now.

plug

There are some other issues that cause range anxiety to be a bit more intense in electric cars, though. If it really came down to it and you ran out of fuel in a petrol car, it’s a fairly simple job to track down a nearby fuel station, put petrol into a can and take it to the car. You can’t do that with electricity – you need to take the car to the plug. While a recovery service might be able to give your car a tiny amount of power to get you to a charging station, a more likely scenario is the added cost and aggravation of having to get a tow truck to recover you.

How to charge an electric carHow to charge an electric car

Towing an electric car is also inconvenient. While you can pull a petrol or diesel car along with a tow rope or by lifting two wheels with a towing van, you can’t do this on most electric cars. Some car makers even state that their electric models can only be transported on flat-bed trucks, as pulling them along will damage the motors. 

Model 3

What can you do to stop range anxiety?

The main thing to keep in mind here is the range of your car. While some early electric cars like the original Nissan Leaf could barely reach 100 miles of range, the latest models are much more capable. The Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y can all easily reach 300 miles of range thanks to large battery packs that store lots of charge.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

All electric cars will have a different range depending on how you drive them, too – drive gently and economically, and you’ll get further on a single charge. Many models have an ‘Eco’ mode that limits the car’s speed and reduces functions such as the air-conditioning to maximise range. You should switch this mode on if you’re starting to worry about range.

EV batteryHow long do electric car batteries last?

While early petrol and diesel cars simply had a fuel gauge showing how much liquid fuel is in the tank, all electric cars have a display somewhere in the car (usually near the dials so it’s easy to keep an eye on) that tells you exactly how far you have left to drive before a charge is necessary. It’s constantly updated and predicts the range based on how you are driving. You will get used to checking it and how your driving affects the remaining range after a short while owning an electric model. Just as on a petrol car when a fuel gauge is ‘approaching the red’, don’t wait for it to get to a worrying number before you look for somewhere to recharge.

You can use apps like Zap-Map or built-in services on your car’s sat-nav system to find nearby charge points. You can even see if they’re currently in use, which is particularly useful, and you can also plan journeys in advance to make sure you are always topped up before heading into a part of the country where recharging options are minimal or non-existent.

If you're considering an EV but worry about range anxiety, check out our list of longest-range electric cars

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Tesla Model 3 review - one car to rule them all?
Tesla Model 3 facelift
In-depth reviews
24 Jun 2024

Tesla Model 3 review - one car to rule them all?

MG Cyberster roadster review - a unique open-top EV experience
MG Cyberster UK
In-depth reviews
24 Jun 2024

MG Cyberster roadster review - a unique open-top EV experience

Renault Scenic review – electric SUV with class-leading range
Renault Scenic Carbuyer UK drive
In-depth reviews
20 Jun 2024

Renault Scenic review – electric SUV with class-leading range

Ford Explorer review – good-to-drive EV with a long range
Ford Explorer front quarter dynamic
In-depth reviews
19 Jun 2024

Ford Explorer review – good-to-drive EV with a long range

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
21 Jun 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers

New Audi e-tron GT now has 912bhp in RS Performance guise
Audi RS e-tron GT front quarter
News
17 Jun 2024

New Audi e-tron GT now has 912bhp in RS Performance guise

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on
Engine warning light
Tips and advice
12 Jun 2024

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
26 Mar 2024

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
21 Mar 2024

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
Best electric cars
Best cars
16 May 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024