If you’ve read anything about electric cars, you’ve probably heard the phrase “range anxiety” more than a few times. The stress-inducing phrase refers to the fear that your electric car will stutter to a halt because of insufficient battery life. It’s not just a problem for drivers; it’s also a major issue for car companies trying to sell a skeptical public on the utility of EVs.
That’s why GM filed an application with the U.S. trademark office in July to patent the term–because chances are, range anxiety will be the first thing on customers’ minds when they think about purchasing the Chevy Volt, GM’s prized Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV).
The move, uncovered by Jalopnik, reminds us of how BP frantically bought up Gulf disaster-related terms in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident. GM may be doing the same thing–by snagging the term that conjures up nightmares for EV drivers, the company hopes to protect itself from competitors’ accusations. At the same time, GM probably seeks to assure drivers that the Volt is a range anxiety-free vehicle. And compared to its electric competitors, it actually is–the Volt has a gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery starts to peter out. Clever move, GM.