There are many obvious problems with electric cars as mass-market cars, most of which have been discussed. But there’s one that’s regularly overlooked:
The lack of mass-garaging.
Having a garage, of course, is not a necessity. But without one, owning – charging – an EV becomes more . . . problematic.
Without a garage – and the electrical outlets most garages have – where do you plug the electric car in overnight to recharge? An extension cord can, of course, be run from an outlet inside the house sans garage to the car parked outside – assuming you have a long enough cord.
But this is also problematic – as well as a tripping hazard.
It takes a long time – several hours, at the least – to charge an electric car on standard 120v household current, the type of current that can be safely conduited through a normal extension cord. To charge more quickly, using a dryer-type 240v connection, you will need a dedicated circuit and heavier-gauge 30-50 amp cord made specifically for the purpose that is long enough to reach from the outlet to the car.
These get expensive if you need one more than a few yards long.
It becomes even more problematic if the car is parked curbside outside of an apartment complex – as well as even more of a tripping hazard.
Will people run extension cords – and heavy-gauge generator-style cords – from their third or fourth floor apartments to their electric cars parked outside and below? Visualize an apartment complex with 50 units and 50 cords running 50 yards from outside to in. Will they go through open windows? What about the apartments not directly facing the street?
Will they run them around the block?
There is also the problem that many apartments haven’t got the electrical service to deal with this prospective load.
Leaving aside the tripping problem.
This is interesting because EVs are most suited to the lifestyle of apartment/condo-dwellers, in terms of their transportation needs – which are shorter-range than people who live in the ‘burbs and farther out, who tend to live in homes with garages and who have a place to plug in without needing to run an extension cord 50 yards down to the street.
But they also need to be able to go farther than most EVs can on a charge without having to worry about recharging. Hence – ironically – those with garages are probably less likely to want an EV than urban-living people.
Supposedly, the solution for the urban/sans-garage problem will be public (i.e., government) charging hook-ups at each curbside parking spot. Like parking meters. The problem there is they don’t exist and cannot just be magic-wanded into existence.
It is very odd to put the cart before the horse; i.e., to mandate that electric cars be mass-produced before there is a mass-charging infrastructure to support them.
Including the mass-generating capacity needed to power all of those EVs, each of which has a 400-plus volt battery pack.
Charging multiple 400-800 volt a piece EVs at the same time is not like fueling multiple non-electric cars, which draw liquid gasoline stored in tanks under the pumps.
Electricity for charging cannot be stored in this manner. It must be transferred from source to use as it is generated, which places an enormous load on the cabling from the source. This is why you see those heavy cables running on poles beside the road. Plus the transformers to scale it up/down to manageable/safe levels.
It is why similar cabling will need to be installed to service millions of electric cars, assuming the object is to keep them mobile rather than parked.
There is also the problem of the weather.
It is . . . problematic to run a cable from inside an apartment down to the street in a blizzard. And even more of a tripping hazard, since these cables will be hidden by the snow. The curbside charging hook-ups – assuming the other technical and economic problems are resolved – will get buried and frozen over, too.
And there’s a related problem.
It is similar to the problem non-electric cars have in places like Minnesota in the winter. In such places, it is necessary to plug those cars in, too – to heaters – so they’ll start in the morning after sitting outside all night. The heaters keep the oil in the engine from congealing – so that the weakened-by-the-cold 12v starter battery will be able to start the engine in the morning.
Cold does to batteries what a naked picture of Hillary Clinton does to straight men.
There is wiltage.
They can lose a third to half or more of their nominal cold cranking power.
Most electric cars have built-in heaters, to maintain the temperature of the battery so that it will not “brick” – and so that it can be recharged.
If it is below freezing, it is difficult to recharge an EV’s battery.
Thus, the battery must be kept above freezing. In a garage that isn’t, this isn’t an issue. But outside, where it is . . . it is. Keeping the outside-parked EV’s battery warm takes power – electricity – of which there is only so much available in the battery, reducing how much of it is left in the battery the longer it sits outside – curbside – in the cold.
In a non-EV, heat – and being able to see outside the windshield as by engaging the electric defroster – is a freebie once the engine is running. It does not reduce the car’s radius of action to crank it up as hot as you like, to run the defroster full-tilt.
And the same for AC, in summer.
In an EV, using the heater (and defroster) costs range; the colder it is, the worse it is – assuming you want to be warm and able to see. Or – in summer – to stay cool. These are not small problems, including the tripping problem – which some Johnny Cochran type will probably make a great deal of money milking as a “constructive hazard” when someone breaks a leg because of it.
But EV hope springs eternal. Like that of the double-Diapered and already vaccinated. Keep on wearing that Rag, if it makes you feel better.
And don’t forget your cord.
. . .
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