Research suggests that most of the electrified cars that will be entering the North America market over the next several years will be pure battery electrics as opposed to plug-in hybrids like the Volt.

According to California based Aerovironment 60% of the 30 electric models known to be in the pipeline globally for 2012 will be pure EVs.

Companies like Nissan who have unveiled their upcoming LEAF EV believe pure EVs will be most readily adopted.  Anything other than a pure EV says Nissan's director of product planning Mark Perry are “bridge technologies."

GM, however, based on their experience with EV-1 believes range anxiety will be a significant barrier to adoption of EVs and is the fundamental reason they chose to develop the Voltec extended range architecture.

“We think, in the future, (battery-only) will have a place,” says Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for the Chevrolet Volt EREV. “The experience of range anxiety is real.” Posawatz is actually credited with coining the term which is defined as the combination of limited range and fear of being stranded.

So who is right?

A study performed by Aerovironment provides some clues.

In 2007 Aerovironment installed a fast charging station in Tokyo to support a group of 93 mile range EVs that made up a test fleet operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co.

They found that drivers very rarely ventured far from the charging station, and when the EVs were returned to the base all were generally at greater than 50% state of charge (SOC).

When a second further charging station was added, drivers were noted to immediately expand their driving radius.  Furthermore when EVs were returned to the base all were at <50% state of charge.

The drivers actually rarely used the distant charger, they just felt more comfortable having it around.

This alteration in behavior objectively demonstrates the reality of range anxiety.

“They mostly didn’t use the second charger,” said Kristen Helsel director-EV solutions at Aerovironment. “They mostly used the first charger. The availability of the second charger made them comfortable to drive (farther).”

This study indicates that a highly developed charging infrastructure will be needed for EVs to achieve widespread penetration. Aerovironment believes consumers will need more than a million public charging stations to support 1 million EVs, Obama's goal for the US by 2015.

Source (Ward's Auto, subscription required)