The Plug Problem

  • October 22, 2023

A reader brought up a problem with EVs that I’d overlooked – that I think is at least as important as the location problem I recently wrote about.

It is the plug problem.

He pointed out that unlike gas pumps – which pump gas into any make/model car ever made, including models made (literally) 100 years ago – EV “pumps” (that is, plugs) are different.

They are specific to the make.

He explains:

“There are at least 3 main EV connectors right now and it’s a crap shoot if you can charge at any that aren’t built for your specific plug with an adapter. Tesla is the 800 lb. gorilla; then there are 3 other major types. CHAdeMO, CCS, and J1772. If this sounds absurdly confusing, that is because it is!”

In other words, Teslas have their kind of plug; other EVs have theirs. They are not all the same. Consider the implications of this lack of standardization.

If you have Model X – not necessarily Tesla’s Model X – and your wife has Model Y – not necessarily Tesla’s Model Y – you may not be able to use the same receptacle to charge them both.

It may be necessary to have one installed for each.

In my earlier column, I brought up the problem of a typical two-car household that replaces these with two EVs. This would require at least two “Level II” (240V) outlets to charge them both at the same time, in time enough to allow them to be useable every day – assuming the household isn’t going to be reduced to owning just one vehicle. Without those two “Level II” chargers, only one EV could be recharged at home in less than a day or two of being tethered to a standard (120V) household outlet.

But the problem here is that while many home electrical panels can handle one more 240V circuit (and the additional 30 amp breaker it would require) few can handle adding more than one more.

At least, not without a major upgrade of the existing service. One that might cost as much as another car.

This will serve to winnow down the two-car household to just one – because many people will decide it makes no sense to buy two EVs when they’re only able to realistically drive one every day. Especially given how much each costs.

The Plug Problem will add to this problem.

Or rather, this solution – to the problem of the multi-car household. How many people will want to pay twice – to have two different types of outlets for two different makes of EV?

Put another way, how many people will be able to pay twice – in order to be able to charge a second EV? How about being effectively forced to buy just one make of EV – e.g., Teslas – because their home is set up to charge only Teslas?

Of course, there are such people.

Just as there are “Ford” people – and “Chevy” people. But most people like having choices – and will not like it when they find out that their choices are being further winnowed by such problems as having to have the right kind of outlet in their home for the EV make they’ve just bought – that may not be compatible with other makes of EV.

This one top of the realization – when it dawns – that having more than one “Level II” 240V outlet may not be financially feasible, rendering the ownership of more than one electric vehicle unfeasible.

This is how they solve the problem – as they see it – of average people owning too many cars, which they define as each person owning his own car. What is wanted is for most people to not own a car – and one way to see that “transition” through is to render owning more than one car very costly and (effectively) useless for the purpose people buy cars.

That being to drive them.

Of what use is a vehicle that can only be driven every other day. Or every third day? The latter being how many days it can take to instill even 60 or so miles of range into an EV using a standard 120V household outlet. As the hillbilly in Deliverance quipped, why don’t you try it and see?

I have.

Multiple times, with more than half-a-dozen different-make EVs. It makes no no difference. All of them take days to recover a partial charge on 120V. And that is how long it will take to charge your second EV at home, if you don’t have a second “Level II” 240V outlet – which you probably won’t because you probably can’t.

If you can, it will need to be the right kind – for that EV. Which will tether you to that make of EV. You will probably not be able to use it to charge any other make.

And by the way, the same issue face you at those commercial “fast” chargers touted as the means by which you can partially charge an EV in only half an hour or so. So it is literally like a scenario in which only certain gas pumps work for the car you have – and one of those may not be near when you run low.

Such fun!

Actually, such malice.

If the people pushing EVs as the supposed replacements – plural – for the vehicles we have were not malicious, they would have seen to it that there was a single/universal way to charge them all – so as to make it easier to charge them all. They would have recognized that almost all private homes are not capable of charging more than one of them at a time – and recognized the threat that poses to the ability of people (as in plural) living in private homes to drive where they each need to go, on their own schedules.

They would not be insisting, on the one hand, that there is a crisis afoot – because there is too much carbon dioxide about – while on the other hand subsidizing EVs that are specifically designed to be high-performance and for exactly that reason cause more carbon dioxide to be generated (to produce the extra – the beyond-the-necessary – electricity electric vehicles burn through to deliver that performance).

All of these are known problems – and known fatuities. It begs the question – as it did during the “pandemic” – why then are they continuing to push that which they know is a problem, that is the embodiment of fatuity?

And the answer is: Because they do know. Because it is the solution to the problem – of each of us owning our own car and driving it as often as we like.

. . .

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