Electric vehicles, or EVs, just can't go the distance, critics used to argue. Range anxiety will prevent many consumers from making the jump to electric, they said.
Sure enough, range anxiety remains one of the common excuses consumers have for not buying an all-electric vehicle. But is it a worthy excuse? Not anymore. And especially not for prospective Tesla Motor's (NASDAQ: TSLA ) customers.
A soothing stat
Even without Tesla in the picture, range anxiety may not be as big of a problem as people think. A 2012 study from two doctoral students at Columbia University's school of Engineering and Applied Science upped the ante for EVs with some interesting stats.
Based on data from the Department of Transport's 2009 National Household Travel Survey, Garrett Fitzgerald and Rob van Haaren discovered that 93% of 179,848 cars examined drove less than 100 miles on a given day. Among the urban-based drivers, the average was just 36.5. Rural-based drivers, on average, were on the road for 48.6 miles each day.
Given these statistics, electric cars are, in fact, suitable for the majority of typical daily driving in the U.S. Consider the range on some of the latest electric vehicles on the market:
And like it or not, charging stations will be popping up all over the place over the next few years. Well, at least for Tesla customers.
Tesla has the resources to expand its charging stations aggressively. After the company's stock priced soared, Tesla's ability to raise capital skyrocketed. On the strength of a strong stock price, Tesla raised about $1 billion in new capital earlier this year. Even more, the stock has continued to soar (doubling, in fact), giving the company even greater ability to raise capital, if necessary.
And Tesla certainly isn't letting investors down. Shortly after the company's capital infusion, it laid out plans for an extremely aggressive expansion of its Supercharger stations. By 2015, the company said, 98% of the U.S. population and parts of Canada will live within the Model S rated range of a Supercharger station. And a few weeks ago Tesla revealed equally aggressive plans for its European expansion of Superchargers.
While Superchargers are currently exclusive to Tesla owners, a Tesla representative said in an email that the company will remain "open to the idea of making Superchargers accessible to others [at some point in the future]...".
The Tesla way
Though other manufacturers may still be addressing the issues of range anxiety for all-electric vehicles, Tesla may have put that fear in its grave for good.
New technology at Tesla's Superchargers juices its vehicles up to a 50% charge in just 20 minutes, and to a 80% charge in just 40. That's 20 times faster than most public charging stations. Even more, the company's batteries already boast up to an unprecedented rated range of 265 miles. And to put the icing on the cake, the company is piloting battery swapping, which takes less than half the time it takes to fill a gas tank.
The last hurdle
Tesla has almost certainly killed any cause for range anxiety, and other manufacturers may eventually follow suit. Apparently, Tesla's approach to full-electric vehicles is sparking demand, as the company sells every car it can make.
But with range anxiety now potentially a problem of the past, Tesla investors have their eyes set on the next big problem: supply chain bottlenecks. Despite growing demand, Model S sales remained nearly flat from the first quarter to the second quarter and the company guided for zero sequential growth in sales in the third quarter, too.
Tesla may have sparked demand by squashing range anxiety. Now, can it deliver on the rest of its potential?
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