Electric vehicles promise to free us from our dependence on gasoline, but there’s a catch: most models can’t travel as far as their internal-combustion counterparts without recharging. As a result, whenever widespread adoption of electrics comes up, the conversation almost always turns to “range anxiety.”
New research suggests the concern is overblown. By analyzing people’s driving habits across the country, Jessika Trancik at MIT and colleagues found that currently available electric cars could replace 87 percent of the personal vehicles on the road and still get us where we need to go (and back again). Assuming battery technology improves in line with government estimates, by 2020 up to 98 percent of vehicles could be replaced.