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Why We DO NOT NEED a Charging Infrastructure

To Put Millions of EVs on the Road by Russell Sydney

 

There is an idea that we have to have all sorts of chargers in place before people will be able to use the amazing electric cars we have available today. This article will show that millions of the vehicles in the country can be electric before we need any public charging infrastructure. Almost anyone reading that statement will be going but what about this issue and what about that concern. Hold those thoughts, step into a state of suspended cognitive disbelief and let’s look at the FACTS.

 

When we get done with the facts we will then discuss some of the feelings and beliefs that are keeping people from using EVs and how those come from having a mindset created by the internal combustion engine and the use of fossil fuels.

 

There is a very important reason to consider this question. There are people who are not buying the vehicles because they think they need infrastructure to use them at all. Some of them think they have to have a level 2 charger at home and others think they need lots of public chargers available. Given that we now have close to forty thousand EVs in use nationwide, there is a pretty good chance that may not be the case. This article will show the details that support that idea.

 

The idea of average travel normally means that half the vehicles on the road travel less than the average and half go further. As the distance on a charge is an issue for EV adoption it would make sense to start a reasoned discussion for the vehicles that less than the average distances. Given that we have over 250 million passenger vehicles in this country we would be doing really well if the half that travels the least were electric drive. We can deal with the rest of them later.

 

The national statistics vary by the source but here are a few averages that show up in several reports.

 

 

 

* Average miles driven per vehicle per year are from 12 to 15,000 miles, which translates into between 230 and 290 miles per week or 33 to 41 miles per day

* Other reports site the average miles traveled as 32 miles per day. Some are reporting 40 miles a day.

* There are also reports that the average commute is 29 miles per day.

 

 

Now these are mostly national averages. That means that planning in your area may need more accurate local figures.

 

Here are some numbers for cities from a recently released report called the EV City Casebook. This was produced as a joint effort of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency the Rocky Mountain Institute and several other agencies. You can download a copy from www.rmi.org.

 

 

 

* Los Angeles 23.0 Average Daily Travel

* New York City 9.0 Average Daily Travel

* Portland 18.5 Average Daily Travel

* Research Triangle in North Carolina 16.0 Average Daily Travel

 

Most of these numbers just seem too low based on what people think they drive. That is because these are averages that are usually figured by taking total annual miles and dividing them by 365 days. Most people do not drive every day so they think their average is higher. Even if they only drive 3 to 4 days a week the average driving day would only be double these numbers.

 

How do these numbers compare to what the electric vehicles can actually do. Here is a table that shows many of the current models and their EPA rated range. The EPA ratings are proving to be realistic numbers that can be achieved under most normal conditions.

 

 

 

All Electric Vehicles (AEVs) Currently Being Shipped

 

 

Top Speed:

Range:

 

CODA

85 mph

88 mi.

 

Ford Focus EV

84 mph

76 mi.

 

Honda Fit EV

 

82 mi.

 

Mitsubishi i-MiEV

80 mph

62 mi.

 

Nissan LEAF

89 mph

73 mi.

 

smart fortwo EV

83 mph

100 mi.

 

Tesla Model S

120 mph

265 mi.

 

Wheego LiFe

65 mph

100 mi.

 

 

 

 

 

All Electric Vehicles Expected

Soon 

 

(final details may vary)

 

 

Scion iQ EV 70 mph

65 mi.

 

THINK City

68 mph

100 mi.

 

Volkswagen E-Up!

84 mph

60–80 mi.

 

Volkswagen E-Golf

84 mph

90 mi.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Selling Plug in Hybrids

 

 

 

Top Speed EV Mode:

Battery Range:

 

Chevy Volt

100 mph

35 mi.

 

Toyota Plug In Prus

60 mph

13 mi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The table above shows that AEV drivers have enough range to meet the national averages with just a home charge. Volt drivers meet the average daily drive numbers without needing a charge or needing to use any gasoline.

 

Being able to charge both at home and at your destination would put all of these vehicles well above the averages and means that more than half the vehicles could be EVs if only people knew that to be the case. This is true even if people only drove 3-4 days a week and drove twice the averages quoted in any given day.

 

This is not really a surprise as the manufactures have done their homework and know all of this information. They have designed their vehicles to do what at least half the people do with their cars.

 

The implications of this are clear. Charging where you live or work would let massive numbers of people drive EVs. That means that making it easy for people to use multifamily charging and work-place charging would be sufficient to drive EV sales well beyond the targets set and beyond the production ramp up plans from manufacturers.

 

Ah ha, see we do need infrastructure because everyone does not have a charging station where they live or work. But wait a minute, what about all the 110 volt plugs in the world? How does it work out to use these for EV charging? They already exist so why not use them.

 

The whole charging discussion has tended to ignore this level one 110 volt option up until recently. There are a whole range of reasons for this. Many of them seem to be more important to people who do not drive EVs. The following considerations point to a different set of thoughts than the ones that non EV drivers might have in mind.

 

 

 

* Level one (110 volt) charging is already available in almost every single family home and in many condos and apartments. It is also available at most work places.

* Plug in Hybrids can get full charge over night from a Level one, 110 volt plug that is available in almost all single family home situations. They can also get a full charge from 110 volts during a full day at work.

* With a plug at one or the other location Volt drivers can drive right about the national average daily miles in the all-electric mode. With chargers at both places they can drive close to twice the average that way.

 

AEVs can be charged effectively on level one 110 volt household plugs under numerous conditions including:

 

* Vehicles normally used for the average daily miles traveled of 32 mile – level one will charge this much in 8 to 10 hours also known as overnight.

* Vehicles with 110 charging at home and 110 at work would have enough charge time for over 100 miles per day (20 hours at 5 miles of charge an hour)

* Vehicles that charge ten hours on 110 for six nights a week and twenty hours for one day have enough charge to drive 320 miles a week or over 16k per year.

 

 

With a fleet of over 250 million passenger vehicles in the country, clearly millions of them can get to a 110 volt plug and drive their vehicles on electricity.

 

Now we get to the yes but part of this discussion.

 

 

 

* Yes but not everyone lives in a house.

There are millions of people who do and who have plugs available so what is stopping them?

Plus

Apartments and condo’s have plugs in their garages so that a percentage of the residents could use them to charge. Even if that is one percent, we can still get over 2 million EVs on the road.

 

* Yes but, the landlords and the HOA’s don’t want to give free electricity.

You can get electric meters for as little as $50 dollars that would let the EV driver pay for the electricity and allow the provider to make a little money as well (we can call that meter infrastructure if you want).

 

* Yes but there is not a plug available at my work.

Have you looked? Most commercial buildings have an outside plug. Many have plugs near loading doors, in garages and by various entrances. Your boss may make it free when he learns it only costs a buck or two a day.

 

* Yes but sometimes I take a long drive before or after work.

IF you really do that frequently then buy a Volt. If it is three times a month then keep your old car, use your significant others fossil fuel vehicles, figure out how to make it work!

 

 

Clearly there are many, many yes but excuses people are using to not buy EVs. What is really lacking is the commitment and the courage to give them a try. And yes, there are good reasons to have level 2 charging at home as well as having level 2 and DC fast chargers in the mix of public charging options.

 

These numbers show us that the problem with people buying EVs is not the range or the charging infrastructure.

 

The real problem is that people have a mindset that makes it hard for them to grasp this. We will go into more details of that as another discussion that we call the limits of an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) mindset.

 

This mind set is one reason why the Plug in Hybrid EVs are taking the lead in sales. These vehicles can go anywhere any passenger vehicle can go. There is no fear of being stranded and they do not need public charging for any reason except convenience and to keep their fuel costs down. An Economically rational PHEV driver will use public charging if the price is right and below what it costs to drive on gasoline.

 

The facts presented here suggest that lots of people can use EVs just fine as their everyday car by just having access to one of the millions of 110 volt outlets. If this were to be the basic premise of every discussion or presentation about charging infrastructure it would accelerate the EV adoption rate. This does not mean that putting in public chargers is not important. The right chargers in the right places can make a big difference.

 

Putting in lots of public chargers would help people to get past their fears and anxieties about battery electric vehicles. As they are more about fears and anxiety than a real need undermost conditions it would help to start every presentation, every opening ceremony with a simple statement that while millions of people can drive EVs without needing public chargers, we want to encourage them and help get them started with these new stations.

 

The biggest barrier created by people’s minds is that they want EVs to do everything that an ICE vehicle can do. This puts them into a frame of mind that looks at what an EV cannot do. That is a mindset that says the glass is half empty.

 

What we need is a glass half full mindset that asks what can we do with an EV and how can I make that work in my life? Then we can get millions of EVs on the road and start to create oil and energy independence and rebuild our economy and national security.

 

 

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