Getting over the ‘range anxiety’ with optimised electric vehicle charging network

Standard electric charging stations in urban areas

The past five years have seen significant growth in EVs from virtually none to more than 2 million EVs on the road today. The increase in EV sales is due to the public becoming more environmentally conscious and a cheaper cost-per-mile than non-EV cars. Government support is also offsetting the premium purchase price. But as the popularity of EVs increases, the demand for charging stations is also growing. If you own an electric vehicle (EV), the chances are you’ve probably experience range anxiety.

So what is range anxiety? EVs tend to have shorter ranges than gasoline or diesel vehicles, and charging takes a lot longer than filling up with traditional fuels. The time to charge an electric car can take as little as 30 minutes or up to 12 hours. The time it takes to charge depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. For example, a typical electric car (30kWh) takes about four hours to charge from empty with a 7kW home charging point. A 3.7kW home charger provides about 15 miles per hour of charge, and a 7kW home charger offers about 30 miles per hour of charge.

However, there is a solution to quickly charging your EVs. A so-called ‘rapid charger’, often found at motorway service stations, can charge your car to full in about 30 minutes and is ideal for long distance journeys. At this early stage in the development of electric vehicles, governments, automakers, and other groups are still looking to promote charging stations. So how does PTV Group fit into mitigating this issue?

Our software, PTV Visum, uses route-based analysis to find the best locations for charging stations. A newly developed tool is utilised that rates all possible locations by taking into account not only the traffic volumes, but also the origin, destination and route of every passing car, and checks if there are already other charging stations along the route where people could recharge during their longer trips.

To put things into perspective, we’ll consider a study area – the state of Hessen to be exact – and use Validate, PTV’s own nation-wide model for Germany. Germany is a highlight for the growing EV market with an increase of over 100% in sales since 2016. This has made it the second largest market for EVs in Europe; a good indication of what is possible with compelling savings on vehicle taxes, much lower running cost and a well-developed charging infrastructure.

So, where and in which order should e-charging stations be opened in Hessen to cover the highest possible number of long-distance trips and traffic flows to minimise range anxiety? The new tool in PTV Visum gives you the following information:

  • The number of trips that would require a recharge along the route to reach their destination if you are in an EV (depending on the range, so we use the standard EV of 30 kWh). In our example, there are 38,388 of these long-distance trips per working day in Hessen.
  • The best locations for e-charging stations from a pre-selected amount of locations (in our example we used all 54 motorway service stations in Hessen) to cover as many of these trips as possible by taking into account, how many are already covered by already existing locations.
  • The order in which these locations should be opened to cover as many journeys as possible as quickly and with the fewest number of charging stations as possible.


Analysis under the assumption that all EVs have a battery capacity of 30 kWh, which is connected to a certain range.

  • # Stations: Number of motorway service stations equipped with e-charging stations.
  • # Trips: Number of long-distance trips that are covered with the given number of stations and with the given average battery capacity.
  • Covered: Percentage of these long-distance trips that are covered with the given number of stations.

The result shows that only ten locations along motorways in Hessen need to be equipped with e-charging stations to cover at least 50% of all long-distance trips. With this tool, governments, automakers, and other groups can take advantage to optimise and build a network of e-charging stations to meet the needs of EV owners. In a second step, the capacity of the particular charging points could be identified by using the model analysis to fulfill the demand, which has been forecasted.

But why is such analysis required? Electric cars are essential to achieve sustainable transport, and we have a chance at vastly reducing the pollution produced by conventional fuel-powered vehicles. To limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the target set by the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, the world will need 600 million electric vehicles by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.

Moreover, the overall cost of EV ownership is lower than internal combustion engine vehicles. To illustrate this, let’s use two luxury cars from both categories. Tesla Model S costs less than EUR 6,000 for scheduled maintenance while a Mercedes S class would have cost more than EUR 40,000.

Not only that, electric vehicles can still be deployed and used for another 900,000 miles, which is unheard of with oil-powered cars as they would reach the end of their lifespan at 300,000 miles. This means that electric mobility is more economically attractive than non-electric by tenfold, and will continue to pave the way to the future of transport.

Several countries, including Britain, France and India, have said they want to end sales of fuel-powered vehicles in less than 25 years. In a shocking move, China, the world’s largest market for automobiles with over 28 million cars sold in 2016, is also preparing to bring an end to the sale and production of oil-powered vehicles.

This significant shift now focuses on accelerating the push for electric vehicles, which will result in increasing demand for e-charging stations as well.

This post is also available in: German

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Azhar Ahmad

About Azhar Ahmad

Azhar Ahmad joined PTV Group as Marketing Communication Specialist in 2017. After obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Communications at the University of South Australia, he became a writer for a men's magazine in Malaysia where he then honed his copywriting skills for lifestyle and corporate companies. He is now responsible for creating online and offline contents at PTV Group.