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General Motors bitchslaps Tesla with Range Anxiety™

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You don't just need a charging point with an EV - you probably need a hotel, too

In short, the difficulty with an all-electric battery car is that there is little certainty of actually being able to complete any journey even close to the vehicle's rated range, as battery endurance is highly variable - and manufacturers can't publicise the worst-case (or even perhaps the likely-case) figures. If they did, nobody would ever buy their products.

Roadster charging. Credit: Tesla

On the other hand if this is the situation ...

Running low on fuel is a trivial matter in an internal-combustion vehicle or a plug-in Volt, as one simply fills up and drives on. This is not an option for today's battery cars, even the most advanced. The Tesla Roadster is on the cutting edge, but even in the unlikely event of being able to find a specialised high-power outlet it will still require hours before it is anything like full.

Much more likely, a stranded Roadster driver will be forced to plug into an ordinary outlet (even that may be difficult to arrange). A Roadster takes days, not hours, to fully charge from a normal US wall socket (don't drive it on overnight visits to friends too far away). This devastating account by a Car & Driver journo of his recent failed attempt to make a round trip of 181 miles by Roadster (rated range 244 miles) shows that "range anxiety" is definitely a big deal for a prospective battery car purchaser, and that GM have probably put their finger on a very sore point for Tesla Motors.

Funnily enough, a short statement landed in journalists' inboxes yesterday, as the "range anxiety" story began to get some play. This is what Tesla's top mouthpiece Ricardo Reyes had to say:

By all means, GM can have “range anxiety.” To Roadster owners, the term is as irrelevant as “gas stop” or “smog check.” We are, however, looking into trademarking “Tesla grin.”

The term "gas stop" is indeed irrelevant to Roadster drivers ("desperate charging-point search followed by lengthy unplanned hotel stay" is perhaps the nearest equivalent, as Car & Driver's account makes clear). But "gas stop" isn't going to be an irrelevant term for Volt drivers: and Tesla might come to wish that wasn't true.

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