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Let’s not allow range anxiety stops us from adopting EVs

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We should not let our anxiety limits us from embracing new technologies. Photo Hyundai Motor Group on Unsplash

By: Assoc. Prof. Ir. Dr. Nurul Asyikin Mohamed Radzi

The excitement over electric vehicles (EV) rises after Tesla’s electrifying announcement to set its sights on the Malaysian market. With a competitive price tag of RM199k, the highly anticipated Model Y promises to ignite a surge in EV demand across the country. EV is expected to revolutionize the local automotive industry where it comes at an appropriate time when the awareness for sustainable transportation escalates. From zero tailpipe emissions to reduced operating costs due to its energy efficiency and ability to integrate with renewable energy, EV has surely become the talk of the town for both car enthusiasts and environmental advocates.

Assoc. Prof. Ir. Dr. Nurul Asyikin Mohamed Radzi

However, just like any other disruptive technologies, we cannot deny the sense of apprehension as we delve into the practical aspects of the situation. One aspect that cannot be overlooked is the initial cost of EVs, which tends to be higher due to the battery technology. Besides, since lifespan of batteries can be affected by factors such as charging patterns, it may lead to the need for costly replacements. However, the biggest setback in owning an EV at the moment is the persistent question of reaching the destination. The limited EV driving range, coupled with a lack of widespread charging infrastructure and longer charging times compared to traditional refuelling contribute to a phenomenon known as range anxiety.

Range anxiety refers to the worry of not having enough battery power to reach the destination or to find the next charging station. Much like other forms of anxiety, it is important to understand what causes this anxiety to ascertain its validity.

The biggest factor contributing to this anxiety is insufficient driving range. It is important to note that the average EV range to date sits at a comfortable of more than 300 km when fully charged. Considering average daily commuting distance for Malaysians is around 56km and doubled during holiday season, EV has surpassed the daily commuting needs of most.

Secondly, is the lack of charging infrastructure. According to Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Malaysia has fewer than 1000 charging points as of June this year. Efforts are underway to address this concern, with a target to provide 4000 charging points by the end of the year. Additionally, more businesses, parking lots, and residential areas are installing charging stations. Despite these developments, there are still regions with limited charging stations, particularly in rural or remote areas.

Finally, the extended charging time in EV plays a significant factor that contributes to range anxiety. Nevertheless, in recent years, there are many advancements in charging technology. Fast-charging stations, strategically located at various locations, can charge an EV to 80% of its capacity in as little as 30 minutes. While this provides an opportunity for the drivers to take a break to charge their vehicles during longer commute, it is still longer than filling a fuel tank. Additionally, should the charging stations be occupied, then potential delays need to be considered during trips.

A range of mobile applications have emerged to address the needs of EV owners when it comes to locating charging stations such as ChargeEV, PlugShare and JomCharge. PlugShare enables users to filter charging stations based on charging type, providing EV owners with the ability to locate

suitable chargers for their specific vehicle requirements. Moreover, the app notifies users if a charger is offline, allowing for efficient planning and avoiding unnecessary detours. JomCharge takes convenience a step further by offering real-time updates on the status of JomCharge chargers, providing EV owners with accurate information on charger availability and functionality. Go To-U takes reservation capabilities to the next level, allowing EV owners to secure a charging station reservation up to seven days in advance. A Better Route Planner (ABRP) application offers comprehensive insights for EV owners, providing an estimate of the total journey time and calculating the optimal charging durations.

In conclusion, while range anxiety may be a valid concern when it comes to EV, it is important to consider the advancements of EV technology and the growing infrastructure. As the EV industry continues to evolve and address these concerns, it is expected that range anxiety will become a less significant barrier, paving the way for wider adoption of EVs and a more sustainable future of transportation.

The author is an Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical and Electronics, College of Engineering, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN). She may be reached at asyikin@uniten.edu.my

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