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Summary:

GM has filed a trade mark for “range anxiety” for the purpose of “promoting public awareness of electric vehicle capabilities,” or basically marketing. Will that be good for the budding plug-in vehicle market?

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“Range anxiety” is the fear that a plug-in vehicle will run out of battery power and leave its driver stranded — it’s not usually something an automaker that makes electric vehicles wants associated with its brand. But GM does, and apparently filed a trade mark for “range anxiety” in July (first reported by Jalopnik). GM says the purpose of trade marking range anxiety is for “promoting public awareness of electric vehicle capabilities,” or basically marketing.

Why? Because GM’s first plug-in vehicle the Volt is an extended range plug-in vehicle, also called a series hybrid, which means after Volt drivers deplete the car’s 40-mile range on its battery, an internal combustion engine kicks in making the Volt’s range “hundreds of miles.” That sizable range is compared to inaugural plug-in cars like Nissan’s all-electric LEAF, which has a range of 100 miles. Some plug-in auto execs are predicting that the LEAF’s range could be a lot less than 100 miles in extreme hot and cold climates.

So it seems like GM plans to really play up its hybrid bet by using the old marketing art of fear, and likely specifically the fear that other plug-in cars won’t have adequate range. Hopefully any such spots won’t be so aggressive as to convince consumers that plug-in car sin general will have a range problem.

Tesla, which makes the over 200-mile range electric sports car the Roadster, isn’t worried. Tesla VP of Communications, Ricardo Reyes, says:

By all means, GM can have “range anxiety.” To Roadster owners, the term is as irrelevant as “gas stop” or “smog check.” We are, however, looking into trademarking “Tesla grin.”

For more research on electric cars check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

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  1. Because a Tesla owner never looks at his $100,000 machine and wishes he could drive it from Los Angeles to San Francisco, or from the Bay Area to wine country and back, right? Right? Riiiight…

    Range anxiety is real. Advantage Volt and Fisker.

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  2. anxiety is psychological, not technological. Blessed are the slow, for they will laugh last, eat better and enjoy the scenery and companionship much more.

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