[Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons photo by Kahunapule Michael Johnson]

Charging infrastructure biggest EV problem

If there were EV chargers everywhere we went — grocery stores, schools, state parks, soccer fields, and gas stations — I could go virtually anywhere in my 80 to 100 mile range Nissan LEAF. Unfortunately, the reality is far different.

editors-blog-entry3I used to think that electric cars needed more range. I still do.

But it’s not range that’s the biggest problem, it’s a lack of EV charging infrastructure.

Personal experience has gotten me to change my view.

I got hit by a divorce six months into a two-year Nissan LEAF lease, and was left with a pure EV as my only car — to haul me around, and, when I have them, my two kids as well.

I’ve run out of charge twice in the past 10 months, both in the winter with temps around 15 degrees out. Wasn’t fun — but we (both my kids were with me both times) survived.

Yet others who’ve never experienced running out of charge seem to be completely paranoid about it.

I just finished reading a Boston Globe article about a bunch of peope who took a P85D up Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The entire article is about range anxiety — yet the guys made it without running out of charge.

The message I took wasn’t the one they were screaming out — “range anxiety”. This from someone who’s run out of charge twice with his kids in the car, twice in the cold, and twice at night, including one time that got my ex-wife totally livid, and, unlike the first time, actually required a tow.

The Mount Washington P85D crew would not have been consumed by worry and we would not have run out of charge in our LEAF if there sufficient charging infrastructure existed.

The current EV charging infrastructure in the United States is woefully insufficient, even with the Tesla Supercharger Network — for which Elon Musk deserves tremendous praise.

We don’t want to be restricted to staying only on ‘Supercharger Lane’.

If we EV drivers could plug in at the grocery store, at the school, at the soccer field parking lot, at the park, at the state park, at the national park, and all the places along the way — the convenience stores, yes, even the gas stations — we’d never run out of charge, whether we had a battery pack of 24 kWh or 80 kWh.

Why don’t we have that EV charging infrastructure in place now?

EV owners with gas cars
A lot of reasons, though, interestingly — and this observation is based on the personal experience of having a Nissan LEAF as my only car for nearly a year now, an experience I suspect no more than five percent of LEAF owners have — one of these reasons is probably you.

Yes, you — the guy with the EV + a gasser in the garage for those longer trips. Nothing wrong with that — on the surface. I was that guy — until my wife moved out and took the gasser 11 months ago.

There sure would be a hell of a lot more pressure/incentive for a real EV charging network with chargers everywhere, if more people truly and actually needed that network 100 percent to get everywhere they needed to get, say, EV drivers for whom the EV is their only car, and who don’t have a gasser for that long-trip, don’t you think?

But that’s fodder for another blog entry šŸ˜‰

Regardless of why the current EV charging network is insufficient in 99 percent of America — well, maybe it’s 98 percent — it clearly is way thin and not even close to being robust enough.

That’s a big problem, especially for lower-range EVs such as the LEAF, but also even for the Teslas of the world.

We don’t want to be restricted to staying on ‘Supercharger Lane’ without being able to go anywhere else — no matter how grateful we are to Elon for the fact that he actually understands that EV charging isn’t about useless EV chargers at a local Walgreens but about getting people on those middle to long distance trips they couldn’t, and sadly, in far too many cases, still cannot do in their EV.

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