Part-Time Vehicles . . .

  • October 19, 2023

We’ve all heard about the range/recharge issues with EVs. But there’s a related issue that’s not often discussed that probably ought to be.

It is the location issue.

Like most people who don’t live in or near a major city, I live about half an hour’s drive away from the nearest commercial “fast” charger. That would have several negative consequences for me, if I were to buy an EV.

And perhaps for you, too.

The first, obviously, is that I’d have to spend 30 minutes to get to the “fast” charger – where I’d then have to wait at least another 20-30 minutes to recover a partial charge. This assumes I don’t have to wait for someone else to finish waiting, as there are only so many “pumps” available. This access problem will become a more obvious problem as the number of EVs increases in relation to the number of “pumps” available to charge them.

Anyhow, there goes an hour spent “fast” charging – best case, assuming I’m first in line.

People who live close-by to “fast” chargers can reduce the time spent getting to and from these chargers – but those who don’t can’t.

They can charge at home, of course.

But that’s far from “fast.”

That’s because few, if any, private homes have the capacity to “fast” charge an EV.

Most don’t even have the capacity to partially recharge them in several hours – as this requires a dedicated 240V circuit such as the ones many homes have for electric dryers and stoves. The problem is these are inside the house, usually – and also they’re usually already in use. To use them to charge the EV would mean unplugging the dryer or the stove and not using them while the EV is charging.

Assuming the charge cord is long enough to reach from the EV to inside the house, where the 240V outlet is.

If not, an electrician will have to be summoned – and paid – to wire up a new (and dedicated) 240V circuit in the garage, for the EV.

More on this in a moment.

If the existing electrical panel cannot handle an additional 240V circuit and the load it will impose on the panel (e.g., when the EV is charging and the clothes dryer is running) or it’s too expensive to hire an electrician to upgrade the panel and wire the circuit, then you’ll have to rely on ordinary 120V household current to charge your EV. And the problem there is it takes more than all day to impart even a few miles of range into an EV.

As an example, I plugged in a ’24 Genesis GV70 EV I have just spent a week mostly not driving at around 12:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, with about 52 miles of indicated range remaining.

The next morning, the dash display said the EV had 68 miles of range – a gain of 16 miles over the course of about 18 hours. That’s just about enough range recovered to make it to the “fast” charger downtown. But not enough to risk not stopping there – and waiting the minimum of 20 minutes Genesis says it takes to recover a partial charge – before heading back home.

This brings us back to the location problem.

Because I am not located near a “fast” charger, I have to stay home and wait for the EV to charge – or spend time driving to the “fast” charger, to wait there. Either way, I spend time not driving. If I drive – to the “fast” charger – I arrive there with less charge – and so, range – than when I started. By the time I get back home from charging, I have less charge (and so, range) than I had when I left the “fast” charger.

Time to charge up, again. 

The point here is it’s not easy to keep an EV charged up, if you don’t live near a “fast” charger. You are almost always driving around with a partially charged EV. And the problem there is you cannot drive a partially charged EV very far.

Or very often.

I’ll use the ’24 GV70 EV as an example, again. When it was delivered for my week-long test drive, it only had about 170 miles of range remaining – rather than the maximum 236 miles it has when fully charged – because it was partially discharged by the time it was left. That was unavoidable because the nearest “fast” charger is – once again – about 30 minutes away. Even if the delivery driver had had the time to fully charge it there, by the time he drove it here, it had lost about 60 miles of its fully charged range.

10-18-23_EPonKMED_6AM     

If I’d plugged it in right then – and so not driven it – by the next day, I could have recovered some (but not much; more follows) of the range it lost driving here. But the cost of that would have been me not being able to drive it in the meantime – contrary to the purpose (ostensibly) for which it was built and the reason why it was sent to me. So I drove it, instead. By the time I got done driving into town and back, it only had about 105 miles of range left, enough – just maybe – to drive it one more time, leaving enough of a margin to get back home  . . . and plug it back in.

But because my house lacks a 240V outlet in the garage, all I could do was plug it in to a 120V outlet – and wait. For the next two days. That’s how long it takes – on 120V to recover about 40 miles of range.

In the meanwhile, no driving.

Hence part-time vehicle.

Of course, I could install the 240V “Level II” circuit and then I’d be able to drive the EV every day, by leaving it to charge overnight.

But what about another EV?

Don’t most households have two cars? Don’t many have three? One for the husband – another for the wife? How about one (at least) for their teenaged kids? This is the typical arrangement and has been so for generations.

Well, consider the implications.

If – as we are led to believe – “electrification” means replacing one-for-one every vehicle with an electric vehicle, how will they all “Level II” charge at once, if there’s only one 240V place to plug in at home?

The answer is – they won’t.

While most home electrical panels can accommodate an additional 240V circuit, few can accommodate several – which is what would be needed to allow for a family to operate multiple EVs as daily drivers. The load would be too great – and the cost too high – to make it not.

Ergo, what will happen – if this push toward “electrification” isn’t halted – is that most households will have one community EV that everyone shares. Priority use will, of course, go to whomever the breadwinner is. The rest of the family will likely have to hitch a ride or hoof it to wherever they need to be.

Add to this mix the economics of having to buy multiple EVs to replace the cars currently in service. Given the average price paid for a new EV this year is nearly $50,000 that would mean the average family would need to spend at least $100k for two – plus the two 240V circuits that would be needed to avoid one of the two being a part-time vehicle.

It’s all untenable – and meant to be.

Because the point of all this isn’t to replace existing vehicles on a one-for-one basis with electric vehicles.

It is to dramatically reduce the number of vehicles – and driving, too.

. . .

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