Electric cars can’t go very far – which is probably why they aren’t being driven very far. Only about 5,300 miles per year, on average, according to a study just released by the University of California, Davis, Berkeley and University of Chicago.
That’s less than half as far as most people drive their not-electric cars – which is about 13,500 miles per year.
Probably because they can.
Or plan your trip around your range.
A non-electric car can cover 500 miles at 70 MPH in about eight hours, including a 15 minute stop to refuel and take a bathroom break. If you left in the morning, you’d be there before supper.
The same trip in a Tesla 3 requires at least two stops – because the car’s range on a full charge is only 263 miles – and each stop to recharge will cost you at least 30-45 minutes of waiting, assuming you don’t have to wait for someone else to finish waiting 30-45 minutes to recharge their EV before it’s your turn at the plug.
This assumes you can find the plug.
“Fast” chargers, as they are styled – in finger quotes to highlight the etymological silliness of referring to a 30-45 minute wait as “fast” when you can refuel in less then 5 minutes – are not everywhere and won’t be as common as gas stations are for years to come, if ever. The cost – and technical challenges – are both enormous.
If one isn’t where you are – or are headed – you’ll have to settle for an overnight charge, which is what it takes to instill current in an EV battery without a “fast” charger.
Even if you do find the “fast” charger, it’ll be awhile before you can get going again. And you won’t get as far once you do get going again, because you can’t fully recharge at a “fast” charger without risking a fire or damage to the very expensive battery. This is why a “fast” charge is actually a partial charge – to about half or so the full potential and so half or so the fully-charged (and advertised) range – but this diminution of range isn’t mentioned much for the obvious reason that’s akin to owning a car with an air conditioner or heater that only works for half the trip.
No wonder EVs don’t get driven very far – or very much.
The typical EV owner also owns a not-electric car – precisely because of the electric car’s functional gimps. One that can make a 500 mile trip in eight hours or less and which doesn’t require planning one’s trip around its limitations.
The electric car is thus a part-time car – and also a duplicative car. Two are needed to handle the job that one non-electric car could, doubling the physical and possibly also the carbon footprint – which has to include all the “carbon” generated during the entire manufacturing process of both cars, the EV included . . . if the discussion about “lowering carbon emissions” isn’t just disingenuous virtue-signaling claptrap.
Owning two cars is not a financial problem for the typical EV owner – who is affluent by default. Who else can afford to spend the $40,000 to start it takes to buy an EV like the Tesla 3? And who can afford to pay for two insurance policies as well as all the various taxes and fees all car owners have to pay, twice.
This is something many not-affluent people cannot afford.
For them, a $40,000 electric car is an impossible car – leaving aside the functional gimps.
But let’s set aside the affordability issue for a moment and consider the fundamental issue with electric cars: The mobility issue. They assure less of it, even if you are among the few who can afford it.
This study confirms it.
Spur-of-the-moment road trips become two-day trips and so aren’t taken – in the EV, at least. This is a reversion of mobility akin to replacing a modern commercial jet that can fly from JFK to LAX in a few hours, nonstop, with a prop job that has to stop every 500 miles for gas. Having to stop for hours each way also puts the kibosh on three-day weekend sorties to Disneyland – unless you can afford to take a week off.
The vagaries of commuting entails more than concern over how long it takes to get home when you might not make it home. Most EV owners are city or suburban people and so for them the EV’s limitations, like its cost, aren’t a concern. They don’t generally live very far from the office, so getting to the office – and back again – is easy.
But it is very much a concern for people who do not live in the city – and prefer to live as far as they can from the suburbs.
Which they have been able to do up to now because of the gasoline (and diesel) powered car, which has enabled them to affordably and comfortably get there – and back.
Not if they can’t afford a second car in addition to the EV, as the affluent can. And since they can’t afford the one EV, they’ll just have to reorient their lives around driving less – which is what this study is really saying, without saying so openly.
Study co-author Fiona Burlig, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, says: “The takeaway here is not that EVs should never or will never be our future . . . It’s rather that policymakers may be underestimating the costs of going fully electric.”
What if “policymakers” have estimated them exactly?
. . .
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