Environment Forum

How I overcame range anxiety in Mitsubishi’s new electric car

(photo gallery)

By Kwok W. Wan

I’m perhaps not the best person to test drive a car around London, as I consider these metal boxes only as machines to take me from place A to place B, and not vehicles of pleasure.

I did once have a very enjoyable road trip from New York to Los Angles, but someone else was driving, and I just looked out the window.  I’ve never even owned my own car, so approached Mitsubishi’s new electric car with trepidation.

“Here’s the car charger,” the Mitsubishi man who handed over the i-MiEV car said, pointing to a yellow springy cord with an ordinary three-pin plug at one end and round black socket to attach to the car at the other.  He also told me not to use the heating too much, as it drained more power than any other dashboard function, and to call him if I encountered any flat battery problems.

Flat battery.  I have since found out that electric car makers have coined a phrase to describe a driver’s paranoia that the battery is about to run out of power. “Range anxiety”.  And I was about to experience range anxiety in full force.

Before the 16 kilometre (10 mile) drive from my house on the border of Kent to central London, I did a few hours research to find the shortest distance to the charging bay near Victoria train station, calculating to the mile how long it would take me to get there.  As I started driving on that grey cloudy day, I kept constant monitor of the battery gauge, doing the range calculations in my head, and tried to avoid wrong turns and detours as to conserve charge.  My range anxiety was a relaxed medium.

Electric cars to help solve riddle of storing power

Since the days of Thomas Edison, finding a way to effectively store electricity has been one of the “Holy Grails” for power companies.

While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.

Edison International is the parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), which is the biggest utilty in the United States in terms of power delivered to customers.

Solar car “crashes” at end of round the world trip

Luckily for my colleague, photographer Kacper Pempel, this solar powered “taxi” was not going very fast when it smashed through a wall of polystyrene at the end of a 52,000 km trip around the world.

It stopped pretty much in the debris of the makeshift wall after the deliberate “crash” marking the finish outside the venue of Dec. 1-12 U.N. climate talks in Poland. (Click here for a story)

Driver Louis Palmer, a Swiss teacher (in blue, lower right), has driven through 38 nations over 17 months, the first time a solar-powered car has gone round the world. He ended the final stretch at U.N. climate talks with Yvo de Boer, the head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat as a passenger.