EV owners have a problem: detachment from the daily anxiety of driving a gas-powered vehicle.
This might seem a bit odd given how often the idea of range anxiety and long charge times come up about EV ownership, but those are obvious anxieties. The daily anxiety experienced by ICE drivers is much more subtle and happens much more often. It’s based upon psychological conditioning, and most ICE drivers will experience it multiple times in a single day along their daily commute.
The concept is fairly simple to understand in that it’s not a shocking, jarring anxiety like what one would experience during an automobile accident or by having a boss constantly yelling at you at work. This is an extremely subtle anxiety along the lines of living paycheck to paycheck and coming home during the summer to realize you forgot to turn off your air conditioning unit. Or getting your property tax bill.
It’s something I noticed the other day while driving my EV along PCH and passing a gas station I used to stop at near Zuma Beach when I would take a motorcycle ride down the coast. PCH is a wonderful highway for a relaxing, yet exhilarating motorcycle ride The scenery is some of the best coastline and mountains you can find in the world. There’s a reason it’s been used in so many movies over the years. I digress to help paint the serene picture of riding through Malibu on a warm summer beach day. It’s pure bliss. Kinda…
Over the years, I’ve chosen that particular station because it was consistently the least expensive gas in the area. On my latest drive by the gas station, I was reminiscing of my motorcycle rides through Malibu and stopping at that gas station because it was the least expensive. That’s when I had the realization about what I’d like to call Acute Gas Price Anxiety.
The concept is pretty simple and easy to replicate for your scientific sample size of one (or more, depending upon how many drivers one has in their household). Why do you choose the gas stations that you choose? If you have an app on your phone like GasBuddy (which has been around since 2000) you are likely weighting your gas station choices heavily towards gas prices. Even if you don’t have GasBuddy on your phone, if you are presented with no time constraint and an intersection with 2+ gas stations, you’re going to pick the one with the lower prices, then brand preference, then lines.
What does any of this have to do with anxiety?
This is something along the lines of what the guys over at Cleantechnia alluded to years ago, identifying 4 types of gas station anxiety.
Driving an EV allows you to become conscious of the subtle anxiety our minds create when driving by gas stations. An ICE driver will glance at gas prices even if there is no need for gas at the time of driving by the gas station. The train of thoughts that continue are where the subtle anxiety comes in. Thoughts about whether you should get gas now, before gas prices go up heading into the weekend. Thoughts about how unfair gas taxes are. Thoughts about how you might not take that trip to the beach this weekend because it’s going to require getting a fresh tank of gas that you don’t have the money to pay for until you get paid the following week.
This subtle anxiety compound any negative trains of thought you are already having. The results can be detrimental to your short-term well-being as well as your long-term mental health. Constant exposure to this subtle anxiety might seem, on the surface, trivial or a problem for the “weak-minded”. Yet, plenty of psychological studies suggest that prolonged exposure to subtle stress is detrimental to our health.
As an EV driver, you silently glide by the stink of the gas station. Silent in your vehicle and also silent in your mind. There isn’t the chatter of stress nipping at the heels of the back of your mind. An EV driver experiences driving completely differently from an ICE driver, not just because an EV doesn’t pour exhaust out the back, constantly vibrate from the engine, make noise, accelerate slowly, and have noticeable transmission shifts no matter how smooth its transmission is.
No, the daily life of an EV drive is delusional: absent the daily subtle anxiety of gas prices and the trains of thought tied to gas prices and the oil industry.