EVs have their problems, but that’s not really the problem. Well, aside from the problem of the government shoving EVs all-but-down our throats, like a dose of unwanted castor oil.
The unresolvable problem with electric cars is getting them going again. Not how far they don’t go – or even how much they cost.
Emphasis upon unresolvable.
No matter how much of our money the government throws at this problem.
Let’s begin by addressing the problem most usually complained of – the fact that most EVs only go so far. More precisely, they don’t go nearly as far as most other cars. Mark the italics – meant to emphasize an important point.
There are a number of non-electric cars that don’t go as far as some electric cars; for example, the soon-to-be-forced-off-the-market Dodge Charger/Challenger with the supercharged V8. One can (and I have) burn through a full tank in less than 200 miles – which is less than the fully charged range of many new EVs, including the Genesis GV60 I’m test driving this week (you can read more about the GV60 here).
But the Charger/Challenger’s short range is not a problem because it’s not a problem to refill the tank almost anywhere, in about the time it took you to read this far. There are gas stations all over and 99 percent of the time, the gas pumps work.
EV “fast” chargers frequently don’t – as I just experienced, again.
On Tuesday morning (Halloween morning) I decided to drive the GV60 press loaner downtown, for two reasons. One, I needed to go downtown and that’s what a car is for – to get you there (and back). I also needed to put some charge – fast – into the GV, because it is being picked up today (Wednesday) and I wanted to make sure the driver who is coming to get it will be able to drive it where he needs to go.
It takes too long to charge at home, especially if you haven’t got much time.
So I figured I’d kill two birds with the same stone. I could make the run downtown, make an extended pit stop at the “fast” charger downtown – and then make it back home with enough charge remaining in the GV’s battery pack to not leave the driver sweating how little range the car has left when he shows up to collect the car today (Weds.).
All my plans went awry – because with EVs, it is often difficult to plan.
The “fast” charger I assumed I could recharge the GV at wasn’t working. Or wasn’t accepting, at any rate.
It had a credit card payment option – in addition to the creepy app-tracking option (whereby you connect your phone and so you to their system, which I won’t do) but the “pump” would not accept my card. Neither would the next one adjacent. None did – and so I left the “fast” charger with no more charge than I had when I arrived there, which was just barely enough to make it home.
Where I plugged it in immediately, around 12:30 in the afternoon. It is (as I type) just shy of 5 in the morning, next day – and during all of the night it has recovered about 20 miles of range, leaving a total of about 66 – which in a non-electric car would be nearly empty and trigger the Low Fuel light.
But that would not be a problem – in a non-electric car – because it is no problem to recover a full tank, in less time than it took you to read this far.
With an EV it is a huge problem. A multi-faceted problem.
First, there is the paucity of “pumps,” which aren’t “fast.” Unless you think it is “fast” to wait for at least 20 minutes to recover a partial charge. And many putative “fast” chargers are not as “fast” as people assume they are. Because they have been led to believe they are. Tesla chargers are “faster” than most others, for instance. But your EV may not be able to charge at a Tesla charger, if it lacks the appropriate plug (another problem).
And – unlike 99 percent of gas pumps – EV “pumps” are notorious for not working. If you assumed the one you planned to wait at isn’t working – and you don’t have enough range to make it to the next-closest one (or time to make the additional trip) well, that’s your problem.
Worse, even if they are working, it may still be a problem – because others may be at those “pumps” already and (unlike gas pumps) the EV ahead of you will probably be there for quite some time, as it takes a long time to “fast”charge at even the “fastest” chargers.
And then there’s another problem.
Even if the “pumps” are working (and accept your card) if there are other EVs charging at the same time that you are trying to charge, it will take longer to charge because there is only so much charge to go around.
Unlike at a gas station, which can fill up a dozen cars (to full) all at the same time and at the same rate – EV “pumps” lose puissance the more EVs are drawing from them. It’s essentially the same effect as plugging in too many power-hungry appliances to a generator. When you do, you can see the lights dim (and they may go out altogether). EV “pumps” have only so much power available to “pump” – and the nature of the “pumping” process imposes its own additional problems, insofar as doing it quickly.
And they are unsolvable. There is no way – given the current understanding (and practice) of high-voltage charging. Even if there were as many “fast” chargers as there are gas pumps, it would not be enough to keep a national fleet of EVs moving rather than waiting to move.
Which is a big problem, for EVs.
Or rather for us.
. . .
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