While there has been plenty of attention around various auto manufacturers looking to vastly increase the ranges offered on their next-generation electric vehicles, a new study suggests that might not be the best way to go.
The study, written by Zhenhong Lin of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tenn., concludes that until the cost of batteries drops to the ideal $100 per kilowatt-hour, most potential consumers would be better served by vehicles with less than 100 miles of range. And, asserts the study, all the R&D budgets currently being spent on trying to offer longer driving ranges — like General Motors and Nissan are working on — would be better used driving down the cost of sub-100-mile EVs even further.
Those conclusions come after studying the “individual driving pattern and household vehicle flexibility” of over 36,500 drivers. And although “… the average optimal range among U.S. drivers is found to be largely inelastic…” — i.e. the largely discussed idea of range anxiety — that “…improvement in the charging infrastructure is found to significantly drive BEV demand toward shorter ranges.”
The study, Optimizing and Diversifying Electric Vehicle Driving Range for U.S. Drivers, originally appeared in the Transportation Science journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).