Thought of the Day: Should Charging Stations Be Bookable In Advance?

Following a year-long hiatus, our thought of the day YouTube videos are back! Today, we’re asking if charging stations really should be pre-bookable in an effort to avoid queuing for a long period of time for charging? Who benefits and who doesn’t — and is there a more practical solution (such as more charging stations)?

Watch the video above and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • KIMS

    **Disclosure: at work, can’t watch video yet**

    I think a scheduling/pre-order type thing could work, if carefully constructed. For one, it should be a ‘priority’ based system that starts with you inputting your intended travel route and intended departure time. The system should then look at expected charge station loads/fill-rates based on other itineraries in the system and make subtle route choices based on this information. The system could also offer/suggest tweaking the departure time by a small amount to further optimize the total experience. The final key to the system should be dynamically having the car check in when: a) the trip starts (actual departure time) and b) when traffic or local conditions is causing the car to be behind OR ahead of schedule.

    Depending on who implements it, and how the charging station resource is owned/operated, I could see scheduled stops get priority over un-announced stops, but only by one car, and only if the scheduled car is at, or perhaps within 5 minutes of, the charging station. (So in a worst case, where a number of unscheduled cars and scheduled cars are contesting, it becomes an “every other car takes turn” resolution until the congestion is resolved. -By the way, this system could be further refined by denying any car that is within safe range of another, un-contested super charger.. Because, the only time you should be using it (technically) is if you are doing long-range driving.. not as a way to top off your car on your way home).

    With a system as described above, not only would waiting on average be reduced for everyone, but it would become a very useful and powerful ‘whole package’ trip-planning tool. Each car/profile should by the way carry a ‘system rating’ with it to prevent abuse. Essentially, you would get a brownie point every time you completed the trip from start to destination as entered when you scheduled, and everytime you change your destination (say right before and right after needing a charge) you loose a point. If you cap the number of brownie points you can accumulate (to say ‘3’), you would relatively effectively reduce the most obvious ways to game the priority system by faking an itinerary just to get priority access at the charger.

    I think the loosers are few (even unscheduled people gain by having increased efficient flow through the charger stations) and limited to people who can’t plan at all. -Oh, and to help with that, the car system should do some/all of this stuff when you enter a destination into the car navigation system anyway, just with ‘departure’ set to ‘now’ automatically.. You still would be behind people who planned the trip a week ago, but the system as a whole would be better off the more cars use the system.

    Anyway, I’ve thought a lot about this type of stuff, specifically in context of Tesla since they have a rather unique and powerful position to create such A to Z system optimizations. If Tesla/Elon Musk is not actively thinking of and planning for these types of system communications and planning synergies they are really dropping the ball and I should go work for them. 😉

  • Farmer_Dave

    This seems like a solution in search of a problem. I’ve never had to wait to charge.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Some people also live in places without fancy restaurants… And never need to make reservations.
      The problem exists in some places. And will only get worse with the model 3.

  • Tom

    I have done some high level simulation studies on this very topic. I have put a paper preprint up at for the full details, but the broad result was that having bookable charge stations with a central routing system would allow a large increase in the number of EVs that could be supported by a given recharging infrastructure. I took the early 2016 public recharge in the republic of Ireland as an example and estimated that central routing and booking could increase the number of supported EVs from about 700 to 36000 under certain assumptions.

    I think the ability to book a charge station would be very helpful from a range anxiety point of view and allow for a good fee charging model. i.e. I would be prepared to pay a substantial fee to be guaranteed a charge point at a predetermined time
    for the few long trips I do, especially if there was a guaranteed quality of service (e.g. recovery) if the charge point was faulty/iced/etc on arrival and I was stranded.
    In Ireland, early 2016, the utility providing (free up to now) E.V. charging points proposed a yearly fee to provide access
    to the charging network, but with no guaranteed of anything! Implementation of this has been delayed for the moment, but
    already many of the charge points and fast chargers around the country are faulty and not being repaired.
    I think booking with a financial cost is the way to go.

    PS: ** don’t see the video in my browser**