I probably won’t be getting many new electric cars to test drive and the reasons for that may be of interest, if you’re thinking of buying an electric car – or think it’s a fine idea that the car industry just promised Joe Biden to abandon the not-electric car, so as to make sure you’ll have to buy an electric car.
The last electric car I was sent to test drive arrived on a flatbed truck. It returned the same way. This being a function of the fact that I live roughly 220 highway miles away from the press pool for my region (southeast) which is located in the DC area. I am located not far from the North Carolina border, about 30 miles away from Roanoke, VA.
This distance is easily traversed by any not-electric car, even a car like the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye I recently test drove and reviewed. It doesn’t need to be trailered because even though it only gets 21 miles per gallon on the highway (pretty spectacular mileage for a 797 horsepower air-conditioned Nextel Cup stock car) it can still travel more than 300 miles before it runs out of range and – more relevant – the driver who delivers it can fill it up in a few minutes – at the gas station just down the road – before he drops it off at my place, leaving it ready for me to drive.
An electric car – even one that can make the 220 mile trip on a single charge and not many can – will be close to discharged when it arrives at my place. There are – as yet – no Joe Biden “Fast” charging stations within 30 miles of me and aren’t likely to be, either – given the logistics and the expense, even though Uncle Joe and the Republicans have committed to making us pay for as many of them as can be built.
But this will take time as well as money.
Electric “fast” chargers are not like gas stations, which can be built anywhere, economically and easily – because all you have to do is bury some tanks and then fill them up occasionally via tanker trucks, which easily and economically traverse the distance between the refinery/fuel depot and the station.
With “fast” chargers, you need wiring – lots of very heavy cabling – to physically connect the “fast” charger to the source of the electricity, which must be transmitted directly and continuously. Unless you have a way to generate the enormous current needed on site. Solar panels don’t cut it for that. Not unless you have a lot of them. As in fields of them. This is hard to fit on a lot the size of a typical gas station.
So absent Mr. Fusion . . .
So, the “fast” chargers promised by Joe and the Democrats (some of whom identify as Republicans) will have to be located close enough to the heavy cabling that delivers the power necessary to “fast” charge 400-800 volt electric car battery packs.
As in, plural.
As in urban.
As in, where the infrastructure – as Joe and the Republicans like to say – exists. It doesn’t, out in the sticks.
As for plural:
It is one thing to “fast” charge one electric car battery pack. It is another thing to “fast” charge several of them at once – as multiple not-electric cars are refueled, much faster, at gas stations. It is no great technological challenge to pump fuel into a half dozen vehicles at the same time. Pumping electricity into a half dozen EVs at once, is.
Also expensive. Far more so than the cost reflected by the $3 or so people pay to pump gas into their cars, which people will discover when they get the bill for all of this “fast” charging promised by Uncle Joe and enabled by the Republicans.
Heavy cabling will have to be laid from There to Here. This is going to take time. Years. Lots of make-work “jobs” will of course be “created” in this way, digging the ditches and laying the cables. But the point is, these cables are not going to be laid before the EVs are shoved down our throats. In the meanwhile, people will have to drive to wherever the “fast” charger is – and then wait their turn, if they don’t get there first.
Don’t forget that even if you are “first,” your wait will be at least 30-45 minutes, the time it takes to “fast” recharge an EV to 80 percent of its capacity (the remaining 20 must be instilled slowly, so as to reduce the risk of the battery catching fire from the heat generated by “fast” charging). If someone’s ahead of you, add their wait to yours.
In the case of a press car delivery, it means the driver must first stop somewhere else – somewhere urban – to “fast” charge the car before leaving it with me – or leave it to me to recharge it.
No one does, yet – except perhaps people like Jeff Bezos and ElonMusk – who are rich enough to afford the commercial-grade wiring necessary. Excepting that, ordinary single family homes aren’t equipped to “fast” charge an EV. The best that some of them can do is charge them somewhat faster than the overnight it takes to recharge an EV via a standard 120V household outlet – by having an electrician wire up a “double” (240V) outlet, similar to the one you plug high-draw appliances such as clothes dryers and electric stoves into.
This form of charging takes just a couple of hours.
Which means – for me – that when an electric press car is dropped off, I cannot just get in the thing and drive it. I must wait for it. And since I don’t have a 240V EV umbilical in my garage – because I’m not willing to spend the $800-$1,500 it takes to get it wired up – I will be waiting until the day after the car is dropped off to drive it.
I usually get a press car for a week. Lop one day off of that, for the first recharge. And then lop another day off for the last recharge, the one I’ll need to do so that the pick-up driver can drive the car back to the press pool without having to spend a few hours hanging out in my garage, waiting.
It’s common courtesy to leave at least enough gas in the tank of a not-electric press car to enable the driver who picks it up to make it to a gas station. But in order for the driver to make it back to the press pool the same day, the electric press car would need to be fully recharged. Which – at my place as well as yours – will take several hours, at least.
So scratch another day of driving off the schedule, leaving five out of the former seven. And each of those days in between that I drive will also require more charging, so as to enable me to drive the next day. Every day, the ritual of plugging in – and waiting.
If it sounds like fun to you, you are even weirder than I.
. . . .
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