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Before buying their first electric vehicles (EVs), nearly all drivers (91%) feared draining batteries before reaching their destinations, taking long trips, or finding places to charge – range anxiety in auto jargon. After five years and 75,000 miles, they’ve learned to stop worrying and love their cars, a survey from AAA shows.

  • 95% have never run out of charge
  • 77% don’t worry about range anymore
  • 70% don’t worry about finding charging plugs

“Although 40 million Americans have shown interest in buying electric for their next car, actual adoption is happening at a much slower rate,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “AAA wanted to understand what kind of impact the experience of owning an EV has on perception of these cars.”

Previous AAA research found that the top two reasons why Americans shy away from EVs are because there aren’t enough places to charge (58%) and fear they will run out of charge while driving (57%).

After buying, drivers say they’ve figured out ways to keep vehicles charged and plan routes that fit into battery ranges. Most EV owners (75%) charge at home, and even though most of them (78%) own gasoline-powered vehicles as well, they use their EVs almost exclusively (87% of driving).

“Range anxiety has been synonymous with electric vehicles from the beginning,” Brannon says. “Hearing firsthand from owners that this is no longer a worry may change the mind of those who have otherwise been skeptical to the idea of owning an electric vehicle.”

A key finding is that range anxiety doesn’t deter drivers from using their EVs. On average, EV drivers travel 39 miles per day, slightly more than owners of gasoline-powered vehicles. And, 43% of EV owners say they drive more now than when they drove traditional powertrain vehicles.

AAA’s survey also examined EV affordability compared to traditional vehicles and found they cost about $600 more to own annually (see sidebar).