Wired has a posting titled “A Two-Day Battle to Charge My Car Convinced Me We’re Not Ready for EVs” by Alex Davies. Davies relates that he borrowed a Nisan Leaf for a test run. He planed to make a trip from San Francisco to Mountain Valley, California for a meeting. The distance from his apartment to the meeting is 35 miles. The mileage available meter on the Leaf indicates its range at the current charge was 50 miles. The trip to the meeting was uneventful. The problems begin when he knows that the battery charge is not sufficient to get him back to his apartment. What follows was several hours getting the Leaf charged.
The Leaf is equipped with a charging station locator. The first one he drives to was not open. The next one was 5 miles away in a hospital complex. But after driving around for 10 minutes, he can’t find it. He drives to another one. But he cannot make the pay system work for him. At the other end of the lot he finds another charging station and it’s a “ChargePoint’ for which he has an account. However, the two spots are occupied. He waits for 15 to 20 minutes at which time a lady shows up and drives her vehicle away, allowing him to get his recharged. He says, “I plug in, and wait. I’ve got work to do, anyway. An hour later, I’ve got enough juice to get back to San Francisco, where I park, exhausted.”
The next morning a man was to pick up the borrowed EV. Davies realizes it is not sufficiently charged to allow the pick-up man to return to his location. Davies encounters somewhat similar issues getting the Leaf charged like he did the day before. As he is leaving the charging station, he encounters a guy with a vehicle that has lost its charge. He helps the guy push his EV up the ramp to the charging station.
I read a story in the NY Times about a test drive from DC to Massachusetts where the Tesla was charged at the Delaware I-95 Service Center. So my wife and I drove to Delaware to photograph the charging station. We spent 10 to 15minutes looking for the charging station unsuccessfully. We then began asking people who worked at the Service Center where it was located. They did not know. Finally I found one man who told me where he thought it was located and that got us to it. So I can appreciate Davies plight.
The comment section that followed Davies’ article is revealing. Most of the commenter told Davies how hopeless he was for living in an apartment where there were no charging stations and not having scoped his route out so that he could find charging stations. He is called a moron, and other names. Interestingly as the comments continued, the commenters degenerated into calling each other names.
Davies is right. Most people are not ready for EVs. To get a full charge at a typical home (or apartment where very few charging stations are available) can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours depending on the voltage of the charging facility. To fuel your vehicle with gasoline usually takes no more than 4 minutes. A standard gasoline station around where I live will also have at least 6 and often more pumps. The number of EV charging station would have to be enormous to service a million EVs. And then with a full charge you probably have a range of less than a 100 miles and that will be seriously deteriorated if the driver needs to run the heater or the A/C. We drivers are still not prepared to spend our time plotting in detail our driving plans.
Obama’s declaration that 1 million EVs would be on the road by 2016 is unlikely to come to pass and will probably be short by somewhere around a factor of ten. The low price of gasoline will probably reduce EV sales too.