ElectraGirl: End of the Season and High Speed Charging for Everyone

Saturday 3rd October 2015

We are coming to the end of the 2015 Electric Car Event Season. After the quiet-ish summer, we have been to a few events recently, most notably National Drive Electric Week – definitely the biggest of the events. The other recent events have been a couple of Green Fairs and some car shows where we take the Tesla Roadster which fits in just nicely.

Dreary day in Monroe, NJ. Photo: Alexander P. Brown

Dreary day in Monroe NJ Photo: Alexander P. Brown

We still find that people like to see the Electric Cars and ask lots of questions and there is definitely still some educating to do however, I have started to notice that a change is happening. I think that as there are now many more Electric Cars on the road (certainly more than there were 6 years ago, even 6 months ago!) they are not so unique anymore, especially when we hear – ‘Oh, my neighbour has one of those’, as they point at a Nissan LEAF. Which at the end of the day, is one of the things we hoped we’d be hearing. There are definitely events that we attend that we get better exposure. All this has led me to start thinking that we have reached the stage where we need to be more choosy as to which events to attend. We need to be looking at the events that have the greatest impact and reach the most people, particularly those that are not aware of Electric Cars or are not convinced that they could live with one.

One of the best events that we do and ones that are definitely worth organising are the Ride-and-Drive events as these do seem to make the biggest impact. Getting people in the cars to experience them first hand makes such a difference to their opinion of Electric Cars.

One thing that I have noticed most recently, that stands out quite significantly as being asked even more that usual, is the question, ‘What is the battery range?’ closely followed by ‘How long does it take to charge?

It seems that in amongst all the other wonderful aspects of Electric Cars, people are still hung up on these two things and are not able to get past either of these, well not easily anyway. It seems to be the biggest stumbling block to going out and getting an Electric Car. Which is so frustrating to us as, when you actually look at the mileage that you do each day, people are often surprised by how an Electric Car would easily work for them. I think it is just hearing the numbers.

We are still, it seems, stuck with range and charging time as being an issue. People are very interested in Electric Cars and you can see that they would really like to get one but, they are struggling to get past the range and the time it takes to charge, even when fully explained to them, they still seem unsure. Obviously, Tesla’s Models S & X remove the range anxiety and also the charging issue – when using a Supercharger – but, if you cannot afford a Tesla what are you left with? Currently, no other Electric Vehicle matches the S for range or charge time at a Supercharger.

Here on the East Coast we are not as fortunate as our West Coast Electric Vehicle drivers regarding the charging infrastructure, and in particular the DC fast chargers that we so desperately need. They have so many more charging options available to them. Here, we are still struggling and just don’t have that fast charging network that we need to make Electric Vehicles truly viable for the longer journeys that we occasionally take.

But how can we get that infrastructure installed?

Well, here’s a thought, why not make it part of VW’s punishment for passing off dangerous, polluting vehicles as ‘Clean’?

Actually, that was the first thing that my sidekick said when the news broke. After talking to friends during the National Drive Electric Week and sharing the idea, it did seem to take hold with a few articles coming out. I’d like to add my voice to the choir and ask that the EPA seriously consider this as part of the fines that VW are made to pay to restore the harm that was done. After all, what better way to make amends than to make low emission driving easier, more affordable and convenient for those that take the plunge?


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  • Bruce Moore

    It would be nice and I know that we have not had enough time, however, standardizing charging Connector would be nice, at least per country. Didnt Elon/Tesla base were charging on J1772 software/code?
    Anyway Tesla’s Connector is much smaller than anyone elses.

    • Michael Thwaite

      I think that the Tesla connector was ‘designed’ by UI experts rather than by a committee of automotive folks that wanted to have their say. The CCS connector is horrible to use and the CHAdeMO makes CCS look svelte! Looks like Bentley might break ranks and provide the right solution for the customer instead of a committee.

  • D. Harrower

    I had the exact same thought, Pamela, and I agree that building out a network of DCFCs with 24/7 availability and multiple redundancy per site would be a very good way for VW to work off its “sentence”. And, for $18 billion worth, you could practically put one on every block!

    And remaining funds could be put toward ensuring they receive proper maintenance and remain reliable.

  • possen

    In some ways it is a good sign, in the SF Bay Area it is often hard to find a charging station that means there is a lot of adopters. I was at the mall and every single free Volta level 2 station was being used and there were over 6 at this particular mall. The problem is you have no idea how long the person will remain there. It is great that they are free and in the most desirable spots, but that is part of the problem, since it is free, they have no incentive to move when the charge is done. Earlier in the week, I was at the Zoo and all the chargers were being used.

    Range is a concern occasionally for me, I drove from SF to south of SJ this weekend…about 65 miles and my range is 80. I was not sure I was going to make it back to a charging station as my destination did no have an EV station, the nearest DC QC one was 10 miles away. Using a non DC fast charger would make my return to SF very late.

    I am definitely interested in seeing affordable EVs with ranges closer to the Teslas out there. It currently requires planning and too much thinking about it on longer trips and when you are getting low you have to drive very conservatively in Eco Mode. If the range were in the 100-150 mile range this would not be as big an issue and 200+ makes it a virtual non issue.

    For DC chargers, they are great in that they virtually eliminate the problem of range anxiety if there is one nearby. In the time it takes to drink a coffee, it is done. The reality is that it is still a pain when you are down to your last few miles and you have to wait for the charging station to open up. We need more of these. As far as I know EVgo is the only game in town. Still waiting for the the ChargePoint West Coast DC installation to occur up here.

    Having EVgo stations around is great but they are kind of expensive for DC fast changing…for the occasional use plan $4.95 + $0.20 cents per minute for one 80% 1/2 hour charge…that is over $10. More stations hopefully mean lower prices but hopefully the high prices on these mean that people will just charge and go, freeing it up for others.

    What am I saying? We need more infrastructure even in the Bay Area. The money that is being wasted on hydrogen stations should be used to build more DC QC EV stations.

  • BenBrownEA

    Hmmm… I like the idea of writing the EPA. I wonder if this idea could be put out, networked among all of the electric car on line news sites that we should start some sort of letter writing campaign… perhaps the Sierra Club, Plug in America and the Electric Auto Association could join the promotion to have VW underwrite a national Level 3 network…

    • Electra Girl

      We are working on PIA….