Trancik at SFI

In 2016, SFI External Professor Jessika Trancik (MIT) and colleagues published a paper in the inaugural issue of Nature Energy showing that when it comes to electric vehicles, “range anxiety” is unfounded. In fact, 87% of America’s “vehicle-days” could be completed on a single charge from a 2013 Nissan Leaf.

Although the journal has published work from more than 3,100 authors, Trancik’s paper has now been selected by Nature Energy Chief Editor Nicky Dean as one of his favorites from the past five years. Dean was impressed by the simplicity of the research question that Trancik and her co-authors proposed: What proportion of your travel needs could be met if you charged a BEV just once every 24 hours?

“Answering the question wasn’t straightforward,” writes Dean, and involved a model that was “striking in its richness,” drawing from GPS and vehicle usage data, among other sources. But overall, “the clarity of that central premise led to a number of exciting findings,” with implications for urban planning and emissions reductions.

“It is rare to hear an editor’s view of a paper, and I feel honored that our paper was recognized in this way,” says Trancik. “The focus of this work on identifying a small set of consequential features of a complex system – in this case energy-consuming behaviors in vehicles – is in line with what I consider to be SFI-style research. Recently, we used this fundamental knowledge to inform how charging infrastructure can be seamlessly integrated into people’s daily activities.” 

Read the article, "Take five," in Nature Energy (January 21, 2021)