Electric vehicles are still gaining in popularity, but they still have some important limitations to overcome before they can truly go mainstream. Really, though, are the limitations mental or electrical?
Overcoming electric vehicle range anxiety and reducing battery costs are the focus of a new program under some new funding released by ARPA-E [Advanced Projects Research Agency – Energy], run by the Department of Energy [DOE]. The new program is called RANGE [Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy Storage Systems] and is starting off with $36 million, distributed to projects in fifteen different states.
The various projects are focused on reducing costs and weight, as well as increasing battery capacity and lifespan. If electric vehicle batteries can be just as reliable as conventional vehicle powertrain systems, then why shouldn’t they be just as affordable? General Electric is receiving just shy of $900,000 to develop a water-based flow battery. BASF has received $4 million to develop low-cost alternatives to rare earth metals used in nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries.
Developing new electric vehicle battery technology is a good way to reduce range anxiety and get more electric vehicles into driveways everywhere, but is that the only solution? Range anxiety isn’t anything new, after all. A hundred years ago, with the introduction of mass-produced gasoline-powered vehicles, it’s not like there were gas stations on every corner. Who of us hasn’t gone on a long trip and had to make sure the fuel tank is full or wont’ run out before we get to our destination or next fuel station? Even today, thousands of calls are received every day because someone ran out of gasoline on the highway.
Sure, gasoline stations are widespread and easy to use, but if even conventional-vehicle drivers run out of gas, then what’s the excuse? Switching over to electric vehicles needn’t be such a sticking point when it comes to range. Stay fully charged and adjust your travel plans to make sure you can get to your destination or next charging stations, and don’t blame it on the technology.