Teacher-student collaboration fuels recommendations to boost electric vehicle popularity

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“Range anxiety” – a problem experienced by electric car owners who fear they will be unable to find charging stations – may be a major deterrent to the growth of electric automobile sales. Now a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher and student have teamed up to publish a paper with a series of recommendations that they believe will alleviate the fear of being unable to power up when needed – and boost consumer willingness to purchase environmentally friendly electric vehicles (EV).

The two Vermont natives who share a common interest in sustainability—Anne Lusk, a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health research scientist in the Department of Nutrition, and Henry Bonges, a former master’s degree student at Harvard Extension School—have published their work in the January 2016 issue of Transportation Research.

The authors cited a Union of Concerned Scientists (2013) poll and a Canadian study that found that a key issue for consumers who are considering buying an EV is “range anxiety” — concern about how far the car will go before needing a charge and not knowing where the charging stations are located, if the charging units will be compatible (there are at least six types), and whether or not the units will be in use by other drivers when a charge is needed.

The collaboration between Lusk and Bonges grew from a course taught in 2013 by Lusk at Harvard Extension School titled “Transportation, the Environment, and Health.”