Dear John, I Know You’re Anxious


I sent an email to tech writer John C Dvorak who was mentioning that he’s testing electric cars for an article. He mentioned this on the No Agenda podcast.

Here’s what I told him after he spoke about his “range anxiety” experience stemming from an inconsistent range prediction in a Ford Focus Electric.


You’re correct, range prediction on all EVs in the US (including the Teslas) sucks. None of them are aware of destination, route, topology or traffic (mine is however). Just like a laptop doesn’t know you’re about to start editing and compressing video when it tells you your battery will last 3 hours, dumb EVs don’t know where you’re going, only where you’ve just been.

But the problem has been solved by Better Place in Israel (and Denmark and soon Melbourne, Aus) and my car does it. It predicts state of charge at each waypoint I put in the GPS and it’s pretty accurate. It will get better with the next revision especially concerning down hill range where it is still a bit pessimistic and safely underestimates how much energy I can recover.

So when I tell my car I’m going to Jerusalem (a climb up of +800m from sea level) it does know that journey will use an extra 25% of my battery compared to the actual km of the trip if it were flat. On the way back it will also know I’ll get back 20% (though I can beat that and recover even more some times). It also knows about traffic and if I hit traffic I actually save energy by slowing down (the complete opposite of ICE cars of course).

Also the battery gauge on my car reads either % or for finer accuracy kWh to 1 decimal place. And it’s very linear. I get the same distance out of 100% to 95% as I get from 6% to 1%. In this it’s very dependable and doesn’t suddenly crap out at 12% like my iPhone. I believe this is because it has so many more cells to average over than a laptop or phone.

Short video of programming the system here.

My car, of course, can switch batteries in 5 minutes so I really can drive anywhere in Israel without much trouble. The GPS will also suggest when I need to switch batteries and adjust my route to include the correct stops.

Full details on my summary page for my writing about Better Place in Israel here.

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