Experiencing Range in an Electric Vehicle: Understanding Psychological Barriers


  • This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. We thank our partners BMW Group and Vattenfall Europe who supported this research within the project “MINI E Berlin powered by Vattenfall”, as well as the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.

Thomas Franke, Chemnitz University of Technology, Department of Psychology, D-09107 Chemnitz, Germany. Email: thomas.franke@psychologie.tu-chemnitz.de


Range of electric vehicles (EVs) has long been considered a major barrier in acceptance of electric mobility. We examined the nature of how range is experienced in an EV and whether variables from other adaptation contexts, notably stress, have explanatory power for inter-individual differences in what we term comfortable range. Forty EVs were leased to a sample of users for a 6-month field study. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of range experiences were performed, including regression analyses to examine the role of stress-buffering personality traits and coping skills in comfortable range. Users appraised range as a resource to which they could successfully adapt and that satisfied most of their daily mobility needs. However, indicators were found that suggested suboptimal range utilisation. Stress-buffering personality traits (control beliefs, ambiguity tolerance) and coping skills (subjective range competence, daily range practice) were found to play a substantial role in comfortable range. Hence, it may be possible to overcome perceived range barriers with the assistance of psychological interventions such as information, training, and interface design. Providing drivers with a reliable usable range may be more important than enhancing maximal range in an electric mobility system.