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EV Charging Infrastructure in America Still Sucks (roadandtrack.com)
78 points by reteltech on April 26, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 226 comments

It's for reasons like this that I'm always sad and dismayed the Chevy Volt wasn't more popular. Yes, all electric is the future, but right now, and for about the past 5-6 years, the Volt is/was the perfect car for a lot of people:

1. For me, my commute is about 12 miles one way, so my Volt has enough electric capacity for my commute plus 1 errand on a single charge. 95% of my days are 100% electric.

2. I never have "range anxiety" - if I do go slightly over my limit the gas engine kicks in. I use a tank of gas about every 4-6 months.

3. Since my car's electric range is only ~38 miles, I can fully charge in about 8-9 hours overnight on a plain 110v outlet - no custom installation required for a home charger.

I bought a low-mileage used Volt - it was a great deal and the best car I've ever owned.

I agree, the current push for full EV was too soon. Even after extraordinary efforts like Tesla + Superchargers, the range and refill experience still isn't as good as ICE (range goes down with cold weather, and Superchargers still require 30-40 minutes). The battery tech right now is the perfect fit for PHEV. The EV transition should've been like this:

1. Government requires 50 mile range (about 20kwh battery) in all new cars. PHEV quickly becomes the default for all models (cars, SUV, trucks). Battery supply is less of an issue (A single 80kwh Tesla battery can be used in 4 PHEV cars).

2. DC fast charging (250kw) infrastructure is built in all cities. A small PHEV battery (20kwh) + DC fast charging means battery can be completely charged in minutes, as fast as filling up a gas tank. Maybe DC fast charging could even be built right next to the gas pumps (fill up gas and battery at the same time) This makes PHEV work for those without charging at home.

3. PHEV works fine in all weather. Battery range drops during winter? Just use some more gas, there's no range anxiety.

4. People get used to the feeling of driving in EV mode. And they notice how nice and quiet it is compared to when the ICE warms up. Also the environmental benefits.

5. Car manufacturers and battery companies get solid state batteries ready for mass production. Now is the time for 300 miles+ full EV cars. With solid state, no cold weather problems, much faster charge rate, no fire risk, no liquid cooling system, much higher durability. This is the battery tech that can fully replace ICE.

This is the wrong perspective on EVs. The solution is to have chargers at home, even slow ones. Then you have zero range anxiety. Your car is always topped up. You never visit a supercharger or a gas station or anything similar. You go, unplug, drive out, drive back, plug in, and that's it. Weather, infrastructure, DC fast charging, are all irrelevant aside from when you want to take cross-country trips.

> 5. Car manufacturers and battery companies get solid state batteries ready for mass production. Now is the time for 300 miles+ full EV cars. With solid state, no cold weather problems, much faster charge rate, no fire risk, no liquid cooling system, much higher durability. This is the battery tech that can fully replace ICE.

EVs already have enough battery capacity for 90% of trips with a simple at home charger that you plug into your regular wall socket. We need to radically scale up production, not wait for some uncertain future. Maybe solid state batteries will match current batteries in cost in half a decade, maybe not. Until then we are ravaging the environment for no reason at all when we already have a perfectly good solution with no downsides.

> The solution is to have chargers at home, even slow ones. Then you have zero range anxiety.

This doesn't follow at all. Range anxiety is not being able (or worrying about cutting too close) to make it while out on the road. If you stay so close to home that you can go back and charge that's not the scenario.

Like when I took (pre-pandemic) our Fiat 500e to work and whether I can run an errand after work depends on the lottery of whether I can get a charger spot at the office.

Or having to come up with elaborate schemes to get the car to the dealer because it's too far on one charge.

The car is awesome for short errands near home but anything farther out becomes a project to manage.

>Like when I took (pre-pandemic) our Fiat 500e to work and whether I can run an errand after work depends on the lottery of whether I can get a charger spot at the office.

According to a cursory google search the Fiat 500e has a range of 320km. Make that 250 due to overstated advertising if you want. Surely this has to be enough to ride your car to and back from work and pick up a bunch of groceries on the way? How long is your commute?

The previous gen 500e only has half of that range, ~135km. The new gen still isn't available in the US.

Okay, that is a bit low.

The realistic range is 80 miles (with some hills here) and that commute was about 36. Unable to score a charging station at office meant no detours and a nervous slow coast back home.

EV's are great for big cities, but about half of US pop lives in rural areas. Outside major highways EV chargers don't exist in the sticks.

In rural places 50 mile trips are normal. It's not unusual to drive 90 miles each way in a day. And chances are you won't find an EV charger on either end.

And in rural areas you have single phase electric, slowing down charges. And in the same places, power goes out for days at a time most years.

If you think the US is ready to go EV-only you live in an urban bubble. In much of the US, EV's are still wildly impractical.

In the country you may need to go 500 miles with no electricity when power is out for a week. Only a fool would buy an EV in sparse areas where long outages happen (most of rural US)

"about half of US pop lives in rural areas." that doesn't seem plausible at all; US has 15-20% rural population depending on how exactly you define "rural" (e.g. https://www.hrsa.gov/rural-health/about-us/definition/index....)

I guess it depends on if you consider suburbs rural too. There's plenty of ~40,000 pop cities in the middle of nowhere

That isn’t true. Rural areas served by the grid don’t have down times weeks for weeks. Maybe you are referring to a few area in California last summer during fire season?

Rural areas off the grid usually have some way of getting their own electricity, like solar or small hydro. These places typically also lack roads so Tesla charging isn’t much of an issue.

America is greater than 80% urban, not as urban as Canada and Australia, but urban enough that even if rural dwellers had vastly different electric resources, there would still be a huge market for EVs. If anything, urban users have a disadvantage because many of them don’t have their own parking in residence to charge overnight, which is not really a problem in rural America.

I believe the claim was days and week(singular). It is true. Tornados, hurricanes, heavy winds, ice storms, snow storms, etc. I have had my power go out for days at least once in the last 10 years. I don't think there is a year which goes by where there is not multiple instances of areas around here loosing power for days. Most of the areas are not what I would call rural either.

Ya, I experienced that also. But the gas pumps run on electricity also.

> But the gas pumps run on electricity also.

I can't say I have ever experienced a situation where I could not drive a short distance and pick up gas. Even when I was without power for days, there was no issue getting gas.

Because those gas stations still had electricity. Guess how you charge an electric car?

I grew up in the country. Outside urban areas it's normal to have multi day power outages in the US. The less people your circuit serves the lower it's prioritized for repair.

Our longest outage was a bit over a week. Several days was normal.

And backup power is never enough to charge EV. You would need to run typical 120v 1500w generator for days.

We used our gas car for backup power. Many others did too. Idle and hook an inverter to battery and it will do 1000w output for a couple days.

Rural is a bad sell for EV's because they don't have 80kw supply needed for charging stations or reliable enough electric.

I went without power for two weeks in Vicksburg Mississippi when I was a kid and we got hit by an ice storm, that isn’t even rural. But that was like a once in a twenty year event. And since the gas pumps at many stations didn’t have power either, well, I don’t think EV would have made a difference.

I grew up in rural Canada, and perhaps the U.S. is a much more undeveloped country than I thought, but almost nothing you say applies to where I grew up.

Perhaps. Canadian population is concentrated in southern areas. Majority of continental US is habitable and has population density less than 10 people per square mile.

I did not live at all near the U.S. border. I've no doubt that you can find places such as you have described in the U.S. (and in Canada), but I think you are vastly over-estimating the percentage of the population who lives there. Even in rural areas, reliable electricity is the norm, and people's typical daily commute is well within the range of an EV. The availability of public chargers is growing, too.

Yeah, I haven't lived in the sticks for some years and EV chargers might be more widespread than I thought. Rural folks still love their ICE cars though for sure

What fraction of the cars are driven in such areas? We could probably go a long way to reducing carbon emissions by replacing ICEs with EVs for the people who have reliable electricity. Cars are parked almost all day. If we can ensure that there is a kW or two available at most parking spots, I'm pretty sure that 90% of the charging needs are met.

Probably about half are deiven rurally, and they are more likely to be trucks with worse fuel economy. The cybertruck has a 300 mile range for the mid tier anf costs about as much as a new fullsize. The power outage thing is real though. A week a year sometimes un the cold, and there is no gas out there, but you have fire. Worse is when its 100 outside and you cross your fingers and eat dry food cooked on a fire so you don't have to open a fridge. Getting a generator big enough to run the fridge for a week was a nice upgrade for us.

I'm trying to convince people of this :) . In rural areas a car is frequently your only lifeline when power fails. It's a source of heat, power, and transport. Making that all dependant on electricity which you won't have when you need it most is a non starter

EVs are good for suburbanites, maybe.

A fair amount of city drivers do not have a dedicated off street parking space where they can install a charger. There are basically zero street parking spots in any American city with charging. It is not going to be possible to retrofit most multistory garages to have even a significant minority of spots with chargers.

I live and work in fairly new multistory buildings, and there aren’t many EV spots. My coworkers with EVs move their cars around constantly in hope of getting their one hour ration of charging in the office garage.

What proportion of carbon emissions are made by rural drivers?

Don't use the environment to justify full EV. From that perspective, Tesla, ID.4, Mach-E, these are all a waste of precious battery resources. For the environment, all that matters is increasing total aggregate EV miles driven. One Tesla battery can be used in four PHEVs. 95% of single trips are under 30 miles. A 50 mile PHEV could easily cover this on pure electric even with cold weather. Instead of wasting a 80kwh battery in a Tesla, that could go into building four PHEV, basically increasing total EV miles driven four times faster.

So don't talk about the environment and say full EV is better than PHEV. Make other arguments if you want, but don't use climate change for your position, the math is clear, one Tesla = four PHEVs and 95% of trips are under 30 miles.

You have to account for a round trip where you can’t charge at destination, that charging above 80% is substantially slower, and driving under ~15% damages the battery faster (or so they say in some manuals).

That gives you 20%-80% of your quick and safe usage of your battery.

Also rated at 50 miles is more like 30 highway in real life. Adding all these things up makes 80mi as low as you want to go for normal US cities. In Europe it wouldn’t be an issue perhaps.

A broken-in real-world Leaf won’t finish a 60mi highway round trip without making you sweat towards the end. And that’s for perfectly planned trips, but a crash that makes you take a detour could put you in a risky situation. I’ve had to tow my GF more than once because something unexpected happened and she just simply ran out of juice. Not because of poor planning, but because life just happened that way.

One counter-argument to that is that many (I won't say most since I don't have sources) PHEVs don't get plugged in too often and are only bought for the tax advantages. An issue in some countries which give tax advantages to PHEV buyers, especially for company cars, where the driver doesn't have to pay for petrol.

> You go, unplug, drive out, drive back, plug in, and that's it. Weather, infrastructure, DC fast charging, are all irrelevant aside from when you want to take cross-country trips.

A couple hundred miles is hardly "cross-country". If you're in the San Francisco, just drive to Monterey and back, and Google Maps tells me you'll log some 240mi (assuming you don't hit traffic or diversions)...

But a trip of couple of hundred miles should not be an issue.

If you're driving a 240 mi round trip, at the half way point you will be taking time away from the car on whatever business brought you there in the first place.

In that time your car will be sitting idle and it can be topping up ready for the return trip.

Business? Like you mean the aquarium, assuming they have free charging spots? Does everything have to be for business? What if you're going for a hiking trail or something? Is there really no scenario where you could drive that far and not be greeted with a charging spot waiting for you at the right location? Use your imagination.

When I said "whatever business brought you there" it could be anything.

For example you could be visiting friends, your mother, taking your girl out for dinner or going to a business meeting.

> assuming they have free charging spots

Why does it have to be a free charging station?

Now, you obviously need to use something like google maps to plan your trip, to make sure the place you're going to has a charging station.

But I was commenting on your 'San Francisco to Monterey' trip.

And as time goes on as more charging options become available, those '240mi round trip' options will also grow.

> Why does it have to be a free charging station?

I think he means unoccupied.

> Now, you obviously need to use something like google maps to plan your trip, to make sure the place you're going to has a charging station.

What if the place you're going doesn't have a charger? I run into this issue a lot. I got on a trip that only requires one charge in between but, if I'm going to a family members house, they don't have a dc fast charger at their house. That means, even though my car is sitting in their driveway for a few hours, I still need to stop for 45 minutes on my way home.

Can I ask how it works out for you? Are you happy with the car overall? Or does it make you regret getting an EV?

I have a Kona EV and I really really like the car. There is, however, currently a recall on the main battery that sounds like it's going to be fully replaced.

For me, personally, all the little caveats of driving an EV work out okay. In the situation I described, I'm okay with hitting a charger on my way home and spending the time waiting. I've taken it on a couple 2 or 3 stop trips (depending on how long you want to stop) and it's not really a big deal. I'm planning a trip next month where the drive will be two days with a total of 3-4 stops on each leg. I'm generally an early adopter and I kinda just think it's cool so I like it. But I don't have a family and I have some free time.

However, when I talk to people about it, I always mention it and I would never flat out recommend and EV to someone because of the charging situation. I think an EV would make a great second car for just about any family or couple but having it as your main and only car has drawbacks.

That makes sense! I actually had the same hunch—that it would make for a great second car. It's nice to see I wasn't off the mark. I hope the battery stays safe until you can get it replaced ;) thanks for the info!

"Whatever business" -> could be anything

"Free charging spots" -> not free as in beer, but free as in available

What did the op mean by this: Does everything have to be for business?

> In that time your car will be sitting idle and it can be topping up ready for the return trip.

The example was to Monterey, a trip I do (did) very often to take the kid to the aquarium.

Parking on the street, there's no charging to be had, so no, car isn't topping up.

I never took the electric car to Monterey, I'd be stranded.

>This is the wrong perspective on EVs.

No, it's the practical and realistic one. There is nothing wrong with a transitional strategy such as range extenders. Indeed, it will provide the strongest natural incentive to expand the charging networks - demand!

You can try to top down force things all you want - good luck with that. It's far more effective to figure out how to get people to naturally go - or heck willingly run to - where you need them to be then beat them over the head and lecture them about how stupid/wrong/wasteful they are. Yeah, people just love to engage with folks berating them for how bad they are (i.e. keep the overheated ravaging rhetoric to a minimum if you want normal people to engage with you).

Compromise - it works. If you play a zero sum game you more often than not will get zero results.

>EVs already have enough battery capacity for 90% of trips

Until it's 100% it's irrelevant for all but the most devout faithful. No one in their right mind buys a partial solution to their pressing problems. Which is why range extenders are brilliant. Fill up with a tank of gas or plug in at a reduced cost with an offset of it requiring more time? I get to make the choice? Brilliant!

Yeah, the best thing about my M3 is I almost always leave home with a full “gas tank”, even though I’m using the level 1 charger for now: it’s mildly less convenient for road trips, but three to four hours between charges means you can charge while getting lunch and dinner, and it doesn’t actually effect your total drive time all that much (at least, if you’re like me and try to stop every so often anyways).

You don't have to put "gas tank" in quotes when you drive a BMW!

I think M3 was short for (Tesla) Model 3 here.

> The solution is to have chargers at home, even slow ones.

So screw everyone not having either their nice American suburban home or their nice luxury apartment complex with a parking spot and a charger for each flat ?

Mass charging infrastructure may sound daunting, but at least it's not several tons of flamable substance that produces toxic and explosive fumes, contsminates soil and must be stored deep underground

At first, yes, let the richer segment adopt the new technology first. Use the time to turn street lights into chargers.

I think series EV's with a generator are great and absolutely have their place in the transition to electric. Mazda just announced one for the US.

But! The charge rate on batteries is directly proportional to their capacity (given same battery tech). So a tesla 20 kwh pack would charge 10-80% about as fast as a 100 kwh battery. So I think series-evs would mostly charge at home as a result and get gas while out and about if they need range.

> Even after extraordinary efforts like Tesla + Superchargers, the range and refill experience still isn't as good as ICE (range goes down with cold weather, and Superchargers still require 30-40 minutes).

Actually, it is a good thing that range limits and recharge durations require breaks - it is recommended to do regular breaks, generally between 15m/2h (per http://drivingergonomics.lboro.ac.uk/faq.html) to 15m/3h (https://www.theaa.com/driving-advice/safety/tired-drivers).

I'm not sure if this is just a random correlation or actual causation, but Tesla's accident rate is way lower than generic even without Autopilot (1/1.79M miles driven vs 1/0.479M miles driven, per https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradtempleton/2020/10/28/new-te...).

While Tesla would love to have people believe that their cars are safer than other cars, they are cherry-picking data which makes a real comparison difficult.

One clear example that makes a huge difference in accident rates is the age of the driver. The average Tesla owner was 54 in 2018 vs 38 for car owners in general [1]. Teenagers are involved in 2-4 times more accidents per miles driven than drivers over the age of 30 [2], so by having a very low percentage of drivers under the age of 30 relative to other brands, you can already expect to see a significant difference in accident rates.

Further, the article you quote says that Tesla's numbers "includes any activation of active restraints (airbags/pretensioners) which is crashes over 12mph.", whereas my link [2] is for any police reported crash, which would include fender-benders and other low speed accidents.

I suspect that if you could correct for these factors, you'd find that Tesla's aren't statistically safer than other comparable cars.

[1] https://hedgescompany.com/blog/2018/11/tesla-owner-demograph... [2] https://aaafoundation.org/rates-motor-vehicle-crashes-injuri...

I agree, plug-ins like the Volt make a lot of sense right now. Internal combustion engines have become incredibly reliable, and carrying around 18 kWh of batteries is a lot lighter and cheaper than carrying around 100 kWh of batteries.

Software engineers like me tend to prefer the idea of making something as simple as possible though. I hate having a relational database AND Elasticsearch for full-text search. If I can get away with the database taking care of my search needs, I'll gladly rip Elasticsearch out of my architecture. Likewise, the idea of ripping the ICE and associated components out of the car feels satisfyingly simple. But, sometimes you need robust full-text search. And sometimes you need to drive a lot of miles in a short amount of time.

I think this is really GM's fault mixed with the broken dealership model.

I went in to ask about them early on and the people knew nothing. I was confused by ads about them that talked about 'range' I thought maybe the car couldn't run only on the gas generator and it just extended it or something.

The dealers were anti-selling them and directly hostile.

In the end it turned out just to be stupid advertising - I'm not sure why you'd talk about a 'range' when you can fill up and immediately keep going, it's misleading.

These companies have no hope against Tesla - the superchargers are excellent.

When we purchased our 2019 E-tron early last year and the Audi dealership was also openly hostile about the sale. They did everything to try to put us into a different (gas) car. Manufacturers would be well served to sell their Evs directly.

I think the big reason for this is most dealers know there's little maintenance cost on EVs, which is where they make their money. With our Nissan Leaf, it's a struggle finding a dealer that even has an EV mechanic, and the ones that don't won't touch it if they don't have one.

With that said though, I've found that sales not knowing anything about the cars they sell to be the trend of late. Even with ICE cars I've bought lately, the sales people have known virtually nothing about the car that I couldn't read on the sticker.

>I think the big reason for this is most dealers know there's little maintenance cost on EVs, which is where they make their money.

Bingo - the real rub for existing car manufacturers - their existing dealer networks.

Then again from the frequent Tesla repair horror stories I see it seems Tesla would do well to court a lot more dealers/repair options.

There's a political element too (though Elon's Twitter behavior has helped reduce this somewhat - I suspect maybe intentionally).

I lived in Western New York suburbia at the time and there was a strong anti-ev anti-liberal tribal sentiment that seemed to be contributing.

Sadly, I agree. Being an engineer, the lesson to me was that marketing and sales teams are critical. I like to think that "a great product will sell itself", but for a high dollar item like a car that's just not true.

I think the lesson they took away was "these don't sell" when the lesson they should have learned is "the dealerships are an existential threat to our business".

Even now, they've bought Cruise and relegated them to one trim level on one model? There's no hope for them. That tech should be default on every model in their entire fleet.

Mazda was rumored to be working on a Volt like EV, but with a Rotary (Wankel) engine as the range extender. Wankels are ideal for this since they are incredibly small and light compared to the power they produce. And a range extender would be their ideal use case. Most issues with their seals happen from too low or too high of RPMs - when running a charger the engine can stay in its ideal RPM zone.

EDIT: It is no longer a rumor - thanks to another commenter I lost who linked to this: https://www.thedrive.com/news/40168/2022-mazda-mx-30-ev-the-...

While others may be content waiting around for sufficient charging infrastructure or blaming the customer I'm not. If I go EV it will be one with a range extender. Or I'll just keep my gassers until the infrastructure catches up.

It took 50 years for the highway network and gas station infrastructure to build out for gas powered cars - we have just begun to start with EVs and range extenders are the perfect transitional key that will generate the need for the charging networks while still providing practical ways for people to as effortlessly get around as they do with their gas car today.

You can't make the users experience worse than moan and complain people aren't flocking to your bright, shiny new thing. And that's the big problem with electric only cars right now - there is no good solution for longer trips where you need more energy quickly. I don't care if the majority of peoples trips fit well within an all electric car's operating parameters - the outliers must be addressed too.

For you it's the best of both worlds, but for most drivers it's the worst.

1. More expensive than an equivalent ICE car

2. Less environmentally friendly than an EV

3. More complicated than either

4. Harder to fix when something goes wrong because now you have two powertrains crammed in one package

5. Zero cool factor

It would cost more than ICE, but less than a full EV since the battery is smaller. It can be more environmentally friendly if it means getting more aggregate EV miles driven by everyone, since the battery in one Tesla could be used to build four PHEVs.

The Prius is one of the most reliable cars on the market. This whole EV = less complex = more reliable idea is way overrated by the EV community.

As for the 3 and 4 it all depends on how it's made.

If its Volvo style PHEV then yes, correct. It has normal ICE and gearbox on front and electric motor on rear.

If it's Toyota style PHEV then no. Because then the comparison is not a gasoline car with gearbox etc but it's Toyota's classic hybrids that started with Prius. You basically just take that kind of hybrid, slap in a bigger battery and you're done. They already have electric motors in them instead of traditional gearbox.

5. Case in point: RAV4 Prime. That thing is cool.

Yes, most people probably do not realize that Toyota hybrid systems are less mechanically complicated than a comparable gasoline vehicle. Whereas a gasoline vehicle typically has a complicated gearbox, or even a belt-type CVT, Toyota hybrids do not. They instead have a simple planetary gearset that enables varying the speed of the engine by varying the speeds of the two electric motors.

motor/generator for a range extender is very simple. No gearbox, much smaller than gas engine to drive a car. Indeed Mazda was flitting with using the rotary for the range extender - rotaries are TINY. There was an RX-7 repair shop behind mine and the guys could pick the engines up out of the engine bay by hand - couple hundred pounds tops. A rotary for a range extender would probably be a bit bigger than the average cars starter. Runs at fixed speed in the optimal power band for the engine makes it incredibly efficient as well as reliable.

Yes, it adds more complexity but it also gets you something you can't get with an all electric - hundreds of miles of range in minutes with a simple gas tank fill up.

Yes, it would be great if the technology was mature enough to go pure EV. But batteries and power delivery for them isn't there for the vast majority of people. So rather than stick our heads in the sand, what's wrong with transitional technology while we work on plugging the gaps?

Our new inability to compromise is going to be the death of western society :p

Also, a well-designed EV can park almost indefinitely with no maintenance, because the big battery keeps the 12V battery charged.

That doesn't work on a hybrid, because the big battery is often drained during normal operation, and you have to worry about the fuel going stale.

Is long parking time an interesting stat for cars? Anyone I know parking a car for a long time it’s a 4th or 5th car and there are tons of cheap solutions for it.

Depends on the owner's usage patterns... I don't want to be the "television is no friend of mine" guy, but I look forward to a future when jumper cables are basically obsolete.

Lithium ion jumper batteries have already made them obsolete.

Wait, what? I just jumped my car yesterday with cables. What is a lithium ion jumper battery? Is that something in newer cars?

Well, it isn't an integral part of the cars or anything. It is basically a chonky powerbank that can jumpstart a car.

It's exactly like having a separate car battery and jumper cables. Except with a relatively small lithium-ion battery bank rather than a traditional car battery.

Random example, no affiliation: https://no.co/products/power/jumpstarters

Sure, if it hasn't been sitting in your trunk for 6 months and all the charge leaked down.

BEV for such rarely used car is wasting energy and materials. ICE is best option for such use.

Agreed, it’s a weird flex

I don't know on a full EV, but i know my PHEV has a relay for the big battery. When the car is off, the big battery is disconnected, and the 12v will drain (and would tend to die). I had to jump it a couple times, it just needs enough power to get the relay closed, the big battery usually has enough to run the car and start the engine as needed from there. Would have been nice if they didn't bury the 12v in the trunk, underneath the big battery though.

Not true.

a) the Volt keeps about 10% battery charge unavailable for driving. To help maintain the battery and also for the purpose you mention.

b) the Volt keeps track of when you last ran the ICE, and runs it every few months on a "maintenance cycle" to keep the fuel and fuel system from going stale

Yep, similarly the plug-in hybrid Pacifica is a great family vehicle. The ~30 mile battery range covers our "around town" driving, but we still have the ability to load the kids in the van and take a road trip without having to worry about how we're going to entertain them in random parking lots waiting for the van to charge.

Not to mention the stow and go seats. Throw a camper top on that thing and it would be car writers dream.

You do lose the stow-and-go middle-row seats in the plug-in pacifica; the battery is in the hole they normally go in. You still get the rear ones though.

We picked up a PHEV Pacifica minivan earlier this year and I love it for all the same reasons. I can do all of the around town errands on electric and at the same time when we take longer trips it's perfectly happy running on gas for as long as we need.

I drove my volt cross country (and up and down, SF->Yosemite->Vegas->Grand Canyon->Salt Lake City->Yellowstone->Montana->south dakota->nebraska->kansas->st louis->memphis->atlanta->savannah->charleston->DC->NYC in a single trip and it handled it all with aplomb.

Especially in the west when you had so many cars struggling with the long climbs, my volt just was cruising by them with ease.

In an ideal world I think you're right, but practice has shown that many buyers of plug-in hybrids never actually plug them in.

This was especially when they are bought for large fleets - which makes some sense to me, after all, when it is your companies car, not yours, and its on the company's dime when you either fill up the gas once a week or charge it every night, why do the thing that is more annoying?

it feels like it should be easier to plug in a few times a week rather than drive to a gas station, stop the car, exit the car, insert card, enter pin/zip code, open gas cap, remove nozzle, insert nozzle, pump, wait for pumping, remove and return nozzle, close gas cap, take receipt (optional at some stations), return to car, start car, and leave. yes, you have to stop and start the car when plugging in at home, but you already have to do those things, whereas driving to a gas station is additional stopping and starting.

Do you still have it? Asking because your post sort of reads like you don’t have it anymore and if that’s the case I’m curious why you got rid of it.

I was strongly considering the Volt when it first came out but never pulled the trigger so always curious to hear how it worked out for the people that did.

I still have it, still love it. Considering eventually upgrading to a used later model Volt (main diff being 50 mile electric range and CarPlay/Android Auto support).

See also MX-30, if anyone’s looking for a new electric with gas range extender. Rotary engine!


Nice - I missed that they actually moved from rumor to reality. The rotary is a perfect fit for a range extender!

Or a prius prime, if you want something reliable. Wankel engines are pretty notorious for burning oil

That oil burning happens as the engine RPMs change.

No engine RPM changing when coupled with a generator. Use as a range extender is perfect for a rotary where it's power to weight ratio smashes all other ICE designs. Far fewer moving parts too. The only things that really gave a hassle with rotary engines were the seals and this isn't the 80's any more either.

I always wanted an RX-7 and had many friends who did. I'd rather change seals in a rotary than a timing belt!

Even if it can't overcome the rotary's efficiency limits compared to piston engines, it's small and smooth and only used a small portion of the time for long trips.

If a bigger/heavier engine could charge the battery more efficiently, but you only use it 1% of the time and the other 99% of daily commutes you're draining your battery to carry a bigger engine around, is it really more efficient?

Hopefully someone at Mazda has run those numbers and they figured that for a range extender, this was the best solution.

My only experience was a friend who owned an RX7 - incredibly fuel inefficient, burned a pint of oil every second tank, had to spend a few thousand on repairs when it had around 60k km on it.

Has Mazda improved their design or manufacturing in the last 20 years? Probably. Would I trust it even if someone gifted it to me? Not a chance.

That’s not “unreliable”, that’s how the engine is designed.

That sounds quite intriguing. Hadn't heard of it, thanks.

Yet another crossover.

Yeah, not my favorite but I can't fault them for making what they think will sell. Mazda is pretty small potatoes in the car market, they have to choose their battles.

VW skipping the ID.3 hatchback and only bringing the crossoverified ID.4 to the US on the other hand, is more disappointing. It's one thing to do that with a gas car where gas stations are all over and it takes two minutes to fill up. For an electric you're making a direct tradeoff of less battery range to turn the car into a fake SUV that is never going to leave the asphalt. Boooo.

I've got a Subaru Crosstrek PHEV with 17 miles of range - I love it, since my commute is ~14 miles. I chose this specific card for the proper 4WD and a few other reasons, but the Toyota PHEV offerings also stood out to me.

This is why Toyota is pushing Prime cars rather than EV, rightfully so. But looks like people will go for the hype of the EV instead. I have been into EVs since the Volt and have two right now, and it is too soon for mass adoption still.

For the amount of space a Tesla has, is it not possible to sell a separate generator / converter set that drives the motor?

I guess cost is an issue, but there will be a good percentage of buyers who would surely opt for such an addon.

Its weird they never really put that tech into the large trucks or SUV’s they sell. It could have had a much bigger impact there.

That was the great mistake by the car manufacturers. Look at how popular the RAV 4 Prime is now, they can't make them fast enough and it's selling for higher than MSRP due to demand. They just needed to put this in SUVs and trucks and it would've been very popular. People like driving SUVs and trucks, but they also don't like the low MPG and huge gas tanks. If they could do most of their short/medium trips (groceries, school, work commute) on pure EV and not use a drop of gas and still use this large comfortable SUV for road trips? It would be very very popular with the right marketing.

Not only that but you have much more space available for the batteries and larger cargo carrying capacity so you could really experiment with some crazy designs.

> I bought a low-mileage used Volt - it was a great deal and the best car I've ever owned.

For how long?

How long what? How long will it be the best car he ever owned? How long will it be a great deal? What are you asking?

How long has he had the car. Or alternatively how old is the car.

If the car has only worked a couple of years I'm not exactly shocked if it's still working well... for any car.

Try buying a 7-series BMW around 2006 and say the same 5 years later.

Except I wouldn't say the same thing 5 years after a 2006 car...?

It's a 2015, I bought used in 2017.

People in these EV conversations tend to underappreciate the magic of simply being able to pull into a gas station in “AnywhereTown” with an ICE vehicle, top up the tank in less than 15 minutes, and then drive another 500 miles or whatever.

EVs don’t do that. In an EV, you drive for a few hundred miles at best, then you spend 30-60 minutes at a supercharger if you’re lucky; or at least several hours at a “normal speed” charger if you’re not. At which point, you can proceed cautiously forward after much delay, always checking your EV’s estimated range remaining — and mapping out when and where the next charger session will have to be.

Because of the above dynamic, EV range figures can be a bit misleading. “Effective daily maximum range” is a better metric, i.e. how far one tank of fuel gets you multiplied by how many tanks of fuel you can go through in a day of driving. EVs need to have a far larger range than their ICE counterparts for true equivalence here, to offset the drastically higher downtime of seeking out chargers and using them extensively.

In addition, independent charger networks are really hit or miss: those handy EV charging station locator apps often times display out-of-date information; the chargers are difficult to find; and the particular charger you end up with exhibits mechanical and/or payment issues not infrequently. Tesla’s supercharger stations are also a magnet for criminals — got the feeling I was being cased once at the Austin supercharger. (“The future is already here—It's just not very evenly distributed”)

For people who have access to a regular, dedicated charging outlet at home, or at work, an EV could make perfectly good sense. Still love EVs, and I agree they’re the future — but they’re the future moreso than the present for many, oweing mainly to these infrastructural issues.

> People in these EV conversations tend to underappreciate the magic of simply being able to pull into a gas station in “AnywhereTown” with an ICE vehicle, top up the tank in less than 15 minutes, and then drive another 500 miles or whatever.

You are driving EV cars wrong.

> EVs don’t do that. In an EV, you drive for a few hundred miles at best, then you spend 30-60 minutes at a supercharger if you’re lucky

If you do this, you will have a terrible experience! EVs charge ultra fast when the battery is low. You are supposed to drive them down to say 10%, then charge up to around 50% repeatedly. This takes.. 10 minutes. You drive for 200 miles or so, stop for 10 minutes, repeat. It's pretty reasonable to take a 10 minute break every 2.5 hours. On an 8 hour (500 mile) drive, you will charge for 30 minutes or so. You should start using abetterrouteplanner.com

I bet, that when you go on a 500 mile drive, you are stopping that often to use the facilities and get some food already. Nothing changes.

> Because of the above dynamic, EV range figures can be a bit misleading

The corrected dynamic shows that EV range figures are spot on and you lose no time on long drives.

> Tesla’s supercharger stations are also a magnet for criminals — got the feeling I was being cased once at the Austin supercharger. (“The future is already here—It's just not very evenly distributed”)

I have exactly the opposite experience. In my city Tesla chargers are all in good malls, with plenty of people around, and lots of things to do. I've been to far shadier gas stations.

> For people who have access to a regular, dedicated charging outlet at home, or at work, an EV could make perfectly good sense

For sure. A charger at home is necessary. We had a few months between buying the car and getting the charger installed and the change was just astounding.

> I bet, that when you go on a 500 mile drive, you are stopping that often to use the facilities and get some food already. Nothing changes.

Certainly not. For example on a cross country trip the year before the pandemic I drove my regular car. 400 miles between fuel stops, 5-10 minute stop to fill up and hit the bathroom, ready for another 400 miles. Very easy to do over 1000 miles per day with no worries.

With my Fiat 500e, it's 80 to 90 miles then stop for 3-5 hours to charge. I plan very hard to never be stuck farther than 40 miles from home with that car.

For short errands in town though, it's absolutely perfect!

Luckily I can own multiple cars, right tool for each job. But if I could only have one, it would not be electric.

Driving 1000 miles per day is anywhere between 12 and 14 hours solid driving. You are the outlier of outliers. On a trip that length, hitting any traffic is likely to slow you down more than having to recharge your vehicle.

Maybe an electric vehicle on it's current form isn't going to work for you with a regular 1000 mile per day trip, but you're at least 15 years off _new_ petrol vehicle sales being banned, so second hand ones are around for another 25 at least.

As an aside, this individualist respond of "well i can't do a 1000 mile road trip in one sitting" is why these vehicles are being phased out by legislation, because people won't even consider the _smallest_ changes to their driving habits without being forced to.

There's something romantic about a long road trip, unbroken and unplanned. Call it an outlier experience, but everyone should have one once. It's American to the core. You get in the seat and head out, first watching the familiar pass away. The first time your GPS says stay on this road for 400 miles, that's when the trip starts. That's when you accept it. You'll see whatever comes - open ranges, mountains, trains that span longer than you can see, bison that wander onto the empty road. You'll listen to whatever is on the radio. Nobody will tell you what to do next. A spirit of freedom comes flooding back, and you remember that you aren't just an ape in a box working for the next planned fun, but a human, a natural explorer, and you feel a bit more like yourself. Music is awesome. You spontaneously pull over to snap a picture and take a leak, just because you can, and nobody is around anyway. And then it hits you - bliss. Quietness. No more inner voice. Just sounds, sights, and sensations. The wind. The rest of the road trip after that is a bit different, and the passing of time doesn't matter as much. It's like when you go on vacation - it's not until the third day when you really settle in. For these trips, sure you're trying to get somewhere, but that's not what it's about. You could fly if you wanted to. If you legislate drudgery into this, or take away from the experience in any way, you're robbing others of something special, even if it's not your thing. EVs don't cut it yet - they require more frequent and longer stops and more overall planning. But I hope they improve because their silence is nice.

I did a 477 mile (each way) round trip last summer with no serious planning. Took 2 Supercharger stops each way in decent shopping areas, around 35 min each. I would have used at least one of those to eat lunch anyway, so the overall losses were minimal. Also, the whole point of a “road trip” is to stop occasionally and see things, so having these short breaks made the trip more pleasant.

Plus the sheer nerd excitement of watching my car drink 250KW on the app while I ate a meal. There’s nothing technically exciting about gas stations.

I can relate to this beautiful sentiment. I was reminded of CGP grey's video on the subject. I think you're right they will get there in a decade. In a rational world we could've had a carbon tax or actual legit biofuels, but no one wants to pay more for something they can't see.

These long road trips infact make me feel guily about driving an ICE car, that I had to make a tiny mess in the atmosphere for one tiny ape to get this amazing feeling.

1000 miles in a day is normal in the Midwest. Not common, but many people out here do such a thing on vacation. Flying a family that far is more expensive and uses most of a day so you may as well drive and have a way to get around once there.

> Certainly not. For example on a cross country trip the year before the pandemic I drove my regular car. 400 miles between fuel stops, 5-10 minute stop to fill up and hit the bathroom, ready for another 400 miles. Very easy to do over 1000 miles per day with no worries.

I highly doubt this is most people. I can do 200miles at best before I need a 10-15 minutes break. For woman/kids you are looking at 100 miles per break and more minutes per break.

Yes but even with kids you aren't stopping for 45 minutes just to go to the bathroom.

Charging batteries is a SIGNIFICANT time sync. You can justify it however you like, but it's still there.

It's not a fair comparison to look at a vehicle that has less than 100 miles of range and call it bad for road trips. That car is only meant for commuting. Clearly you will spend a lot of time charging such a small battery with a slow charger. The way to do a longer drive with an electric car is to have several hundred miles of range and use DC fast chargers.

Depending on where you live, going on a long road trip can sometimes become a sudden necessity. If I still lived in a hurricane zone, for example, I wouldn’t go anywhere near an EV except as a second car.

why do you keep comparing a car with 400 mile range to your ev with 80 mile range, that doesn't even have dc fast charging? Its not even a comparison, obviously you wouldnt drive your car designed for daily commutes, you should be comparing to an Ev actually meant to drive 200+ miles, teslas, mache, taycan etc.

> why do you keep comparing a car with 400 mile range to your ev with 80 mile range, that doesn't even have dc fast charging?

I'm not doing a theoretical comparison, these are cars I can afford and actually own right now.

> you should be comparing to an Ev actually meant to drive 200+ miles, teslas, mache, taycan

I can't responsibly afford a tesla, mache or taycan, so not going to compare those.

I can easily afford a sub-20K regular car though and it lets me do 1000+ mile day road trips.

When I drive long distance like that, I stop only for gas, which is almost always available immediately at the end of the highway exit ramp. I use the bathroom and if necessary get food at the same time. Pulling off the road every 2.5 hours and driving to the nearest mall or wherever the charging point is, and then back to the highway, is a complete deal breaker for those types of drives.

Well of course. You’re comparing 120 years of developing a network of ICE cars with what, 10? of EVS? If gas stations got on the “let’s also sell electrical” movement you’d also have much more availability of chargers at any ramp and you could do 10 min partial charges with less anxiety because you’d know that in any other exit you’ll be able to charge.

Pointing the obvious is just silly.

>Pointing the obvious is just silly.

Just as silly as pretending it's not an issue either :p

That's why range extenders are the perfect compromise and I'm excited to see the Mazda solution. A rotary is the perfect engine for a range extender - small, lightweight, few moving parts - and at a fixed speed many of the issues with seals won't be an issue at all. Should be an incredible solution and perfect transitional vehicle.

> nearest mall or wherever the charging point is

Like the gas station? Here in Norway most gas station chains are building out chargers, and a lot of them have charging stations right next to them already.

After all, gas stations still want to rake in on those snacks and drinks...

I think this is predicated on having a good enough charging network close to the motorway.

It's entirely personal, but I don't like to drive for more than 2.5 hours at a stretch, I find my eyes start to lose a bit of focus and it feels dangerous to me.

> You are driving EV cars wrong.

I assume that also includes tours through the Australian outback or the Siberian winter?

I can refuel an ICE car everywhere within minutes with just a canister. No need for a dedicated refueling spot aka gas station.

As someone else said. It's interesting that the negative responses to this are all incredibly extreme. Someone who likes to drive 1000 miles per day with a 10 minute stop in total. Someone who drives through the Siberian winter. The vast, vast, vast, majority of the population, even the rural population, isn't doing this.

> I assume that also includes tours through the Australian outback or the Siberian winter?

Yes, I frequently take my Toyota Carrolla across the Sahara in June. Until they make an EV that can do that in one trip, they're utterly useless to everyone everywhere under any circumstances.

The people who like doing that can buy ICE cars. This represents a teeny tiny minority of all car use. I'd wager that more than half of the driving population of the US has never in their lives driven in a place with hundreds of miles between fill stations.

> If you do this, you will have a terrible experience! EVs charge ultra fast when the battery is low. You are supposed to drive them down to say 10%, then charge up to around 50% repeatedly. This takes.. 10 minutes. You drive for 200 miles or so, stop for 10 minutes, repeat.

I'm not sure why you're basing this off the assumption current EV's have 500 miles of range... (10->50% of 500 miles would be those 200 miles you're driving)

With actual EV's being more like 250-300, 10->50% is only 100-120 miles. Which leads me to...

> It's pretty reasonable to take a 10 minute break every 2.5 hours.

That's more like a 10 minute break every 90 minutes, and not very reasonable for trips taking 5-10 hours.

75-80mph with the current range availability on Tesla's, E-tron, mach-e, id.4 etc allows you 2-3 hours at speed before requiring a stop to recharge for 20-30 mins on a DC fast charger. It's not unreasonable and probably makes things safer than the guy who thinks you should 1000+ miles a day with only a single stop to refuel.

>You are driving EV cars wrong.

And that's why EVs as currently pitched will NEVER take off. Heck you probably lost the majority of readers of this site, many of which probably have pretty pro-EV leanings when you start blaming the user.

If you are trying to win someone over to your side, telling them they are doing it wrong is NOT a great way to keep them engaged or convince them.

For example - you could point out that sure, EVs don't work exactly the same way as gasoline cars, but for these trade offs you get these other benefits.

Not by hitting them over the head with "your doing it wrong". Good grief.

>I bet, that when you go on a 500 mile drive, you are stopping that often to use the facilities and get some food already. Nothing changes.

Granted I'm probably not most people, but I'm far from in a minority that when I'm doing a long drive I just go. The only time I stop is to get more fuel which I may combine with a meal, maybe not. And I've never had that take more than 30 minutes. I've crossed the US in three days more times than I care to admit and have maybe one more of those trips left to face. And that's leaving me some nice time to have dinner/sleep and a decent breakfast before setting back out. Someone really motivated could probably do it in two but I think it's important to get good sleep when on those kinds of drives. Waiting around 45 minutes every 200-300 miles is ludicrous.

While I don't relish those trips, I relish being at my destination more than I do the drive to get there so an EV would be a huge downgrade and handicap. And at least one, if not two more nights of hotel bills. No thanks!

This seems overly optimistic. I don't even run my ICE tank to 10% because I am concerned that I will run out of gas before finding the next place to fill up. With my EV I am even more concerned, because of all the reasons stated in this thread.

At least for Tesla, around the eastern seaboard, this is not the case. The rest of the EV world will eventually converge to this state as the infrastructure is built out.

The leading edge of EV’s (Model S Long Range) now have over 400 miles (300+ to 80%). I-95 for example in NJ and CT have 250kW peak Superchargers spaced every 20-30 miles or so. Its not quite the same as ICE still but it is getting very close. I can imagine the technology will be there in 2-3 years and it doesn’t require any sort of solid state battery technology.

Agree, it's all great if you are driving around a major built up metro area. It doesn't work if you're driving to North Dakota.

I’m still hoping for inductive charging roads. The modern day electric race track toys, if you will.

> People in these EV conversations tend to underappreciate the magic of simply being able to pull into a gas station in “AnywhereTown” with an ICE vehicle, top up the tank in less than 15 minutes, and then drive another 500 miles or whatever.

That’s because the energy is transferred into the ICE car’s tank without changing its form and there is therefore no real theoretical limit on the refueling speed.

For EVs, energy is changing its form from electric to chemical energy and due to the heat losses during that transformation process, you cannot arbitrarily increase the refueling speed.

This conversion of energy during refueling is why I personally think that battery-electric cars are not the best solution for clean cars.

>This conversion of energy during refueling is why I personally think that battery-electric cars are not the best solution for clean cars.

Yup - I used to think hydrogen fuel cells were ridiculously over complicated until you run into this aspect of battery driven electric vehicles. Now the allure of hydrogen makes sense - quick fill ups!

I am an Indian. I am curious, as to the amount of times one has the requirement to fill a tank of gas and drive 500 miles further.

EVs should target the regular commuter market. I was really surprised that Tesla invested in the supercharger network. I get the idea, but in the US, do people really go on such long drives regularly?

We have a bit of a cultural attachment to the road trip. In comparison to other countries, our roads are wonderful and some people can comfortably drive for a thousand miles a day. And our trains and busses are either non-existent or something only a student would do. For most people it's not a regular thing, but for the few times a year they do make the long drive, it's can be a badge of honor and show of independence. And there's usually some competition to see who can drive the most miles in the fewest hours with the least stops. Even when flying would be faster and cheaper, many people prefer to drive for the convenience of having their own car once they get to their destination. I definitely haven't seen this road trip phenomenon in Europe even though you could do similar drives. There just isn't the same need to have your car at your destination and people seem more comfortable taking planes, trains and buses generally.

Yes, people go on 300+ mile drives often enough that the ability to take long drives is important. While long trips are surely not very common as a percentage of trips, taking a "road trip" (a vacation by long car drive) might be done once or more per year in some families. For example, one might drive from San Francisco to LA, or Atlanta to Daytona Beach. It's not entirely uncommon to drive all the way cross-country either.

I believe, though, it's only a matter of time before charging stations reach parity with gas stations. It's already possible to take a road trip by major highways with a Tesla.

Lots of people drive from Canada to Florida in the spring. Go to Clearwater Beach in March and count the number of Ontario license plates you see.

> I believe, though, it's only a matter of time before charging stations reach parity with gas stations. It's already possible to take a road trip by major highways with a Tesla.

For a full transition to EVs, the charger network is going to need enough capacity to handle large emergencies like hurricane evacuations. A typical gas station with 4-8 pumps can keep a lot of cars moving in that sort of situation, and it doesn’t feel like electric charging stations will be able to handle that load anytime soon.

The 500 mile figure is roughly the range of a modern Toyota Camry. It’s just a useful baseline.

But as it happens, we’d drive 500 miles from Atlanta to St Louis every winter to visit our grandparents when we were growing up. I’m sure lots of people have relatives or friends they could visit who live about that far away.

Alternatively, Birmingham to Orange Beach is a bit shy of 300 miles one way. Atlanta to various popular beach vacation spots in Florida and South Carolina is roughly comparable. Beach vacation territory, IOW, is commonly several hundred miles one way.

Maybe once or twice a year, if that. Most people I know who are going more than a few hundred miles just fly and rent a car on the other end.

Not many families can afford that luxury - so they drive.

And that's the real resistance here - freedom. EV enthusiasts do themselves zero favors when they try to pretend that it's not a real issue.

In the US? The number of times people drive 500 miles straight is basically never despite what people here will claim.

> In the US? The number of times people drive 500 miles straight is basically never despite what people here will claim.

At least on the west coast (distances are longer) that's quite common. San Francisco to Los Angeles is ~400 miles. A day trip is ~800 miles, done it often.

San Francisco to Portland is ~600 miles, done that very often as well.

What do you consider very often? I’ve done it several times, but that comes to about once every few years for me. Certainly not a weekly trip.

For three years when I lived in San Diego I drove to Vegas at least once a month (it's where I have family).

Millions of cars on the road happen for a reason. Just because you rarely go on such trips doesn't mean for some they aren't more frequent for others. Heck just to go to my favorite German restaurant or go for my favorite crab cakes that could be a 300 mile round trip. I would do either without a second thought with my current cars and until EVs can get to the same level of comfort for people they will remain a niche vehicle.

That's the practical reality. You can hop up and down with your arguments around moral superiority and god help any idiot who tries to force change via legislation. Want to see a real revolution real fast? Just poke that bear.

Cars = freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of expression, economic freedom (choice of jobs, supplies, living location, etc.). EV proponents can acknowledge this and work to rationally solve the issues (with transitional tech like range extenders), or continue to insist everyone else is doing it wrong and remain a niche.

Until most of the fervor around EVs graduates from cult status to being at least a touch pragmatic there won't be significant change. Screaming louder about how the environment is being ravaged (right or wrong) isn't going to move the needle either. You convince people by solving their problems, meeting their needs and doing so in a rational manner.

It really isn't that hard - until you roll up your sleeves and really start to work through things. Until we all are willing to do that it's just wish casting.

If by "straight" you mean only fuel stops I do ~750 miles or more at least twice a year.

> twice a year

Meaning basically never.

The importance of those twice a year trips is high though. Visiting family, resting up on vacation, exploring new places. Choosing a vehicle that doesn't support those twice a year trips is a hard sell for many people.

We are talking about buying cars with ~8 year lifetimes. So his "basically never" twice a year is 16 expected trips with the vehicle. That's significant enough to be a serious consideration when comparing ICE to EV purchases.

8 years at an average of 12500 miles a year is 100,000 miles or about 5000-10000 trips. 16 long distance trips is 0.3% of all trip.

So that's 0.3%.

Now ask what the marginal cost of a electric car that can drive 500 miles without stopping vs one that goes have the distance. What's that $20,000? For 16 trips? That's $1250 a trip.

From an accounting point of view that's insane. You should buy the lower range cheaper car and fly.

>So that's 0.3%.

Your heart is a relatively small part of your overall biomass.

So why don't you just do without it?

>From an accounting point of view that's insane. You should buy the lower range cheaper car and fly.

Even more presumptuous. What are you supposed to do on the other end of that plane flight to get around? Rent a car? Bum off of friends/family?

I once thought it would be cost effective to buy an EV and just rent when I needed to take longer trips - until I did the math. Rental cars get very expensive very quickly!

Also for all those saying just fly and rent or rent a car - most of these trips are around the holidays.

When everyone else is having the same thoughts. What happens if you don't get a rental car? No trip? Yeah, that's going to go over well...

Must be this new math. When I was growing up never = 0, not never > 0

Well, rent an ICE for your grand romantic road trip then.

I envy those people that go on 500 mile road trips all the time and therefore can't live without a car with ICE. Personally I think I could live with not having that kind of range at all times if there were reasonable car sharing or rental options around.

I’m personally a lot happier not living in HCOL, noisy, polluted and just downright unsafe major metropolitan areas these days. The tradeoff is this precludes practicable EV ownership IME, at least at the current time. Even still, I’ve loved driving every EV I’ve had the opportunity to, and would be quite ecstatic were modern ICE vehicles to be entirely replaced by full EVs. (Classic and 90s era Japanese sports cars are another story.)

Where exactly do you live that you need to go more than 100, 150 miles one way? Even in the moderate back ass of nowhere, you're probably not more than 20 or 30 miles to necessities (groceries, etc), right? Either way, this situation (20-30 miles from a grocery store) certainly wouldn't be a considered "HCOL, ..., major metro area," right? I just can't compute this.

Living in an area like that, and having to rent a car for longer trips in a PITA. Car rental is not exactly easy in areas like that. If there is a rental agency nearby, it probably is open 9-5. So you have to pick up the car a day in advance, and leave your EV there if they let you, or have another person along to drive it back. It's just not practical.

And if you are trying to rent a car around the holidays - when most people take these kinds of long trips you can forget it! If you are lucky you might get stuck with the minivan that smells of puke.

If you are lucky!

This is why I think the SUV PHEV is the perfect vehicle for the US market. And the market has shown this, demand for the RAV4 Prime is so great they can't make them fast enough and it's going for over MSRP. The car manufacturers are slowly noticing this (Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Ford, Audi, BMW have PHEV SUVs) but they need to push PHEV across all the models.

> then drive another 500 miles

When did cars start getting 500 miles to tank? I owned various incarnations of the Honda Accord for almost 30 years and the best I ever got was just over 300 miles.

I once drove from Berkely to San Diego (about 500 miles) on a single tank in a 2003 Saab 9-3. I have no idea how common ICE cars are that are capable of this.

To do that you would have had to either use the entire tank of gas at the highway MPG rating, or exceed it. That seems perfectly doable and that's not an everyday scenario.

You can do the same in an EV, there have been plenty of times where I left the house and returned with more charge due to using hills and regenerative braking.

That being said, it's unusual and you wouldn't expect go get highway MPG ratings under regular use unless your regular use is strictly highway driving under optimal conditions.

It wasn't a normal drive. Not only did I not fill up, but I didn't even leave the car. (Once I'd gone about 2/3s of the trip and realized it was maybe possible, it became sort of a challenge.) But yeah I've made that drive at least a half dozen times, but that was the only time I didn't fill up the tank.

In any case, my only point was that there are cars out there that can drive 500 miles on a single tank. The 9-3 I did it with is getting close to 20 years old. I'm sure there are older cars capable of the same.

If you stick to ElectrifyAmerica (not like the author), you’ll have a much nicer experience. They’re really the only 150/350kw decently priced network, all the competition is mostly slow 44/58kw chargers.

They still have a bit of software ironing to do though, still feels like a beta sometimes, I’ve had to move from stall to stall 3-4 times out of 40 charges.

Also, yes, obviously, if you’re in Manhattan, you’ll find less chargers. But why are you using a car there?

Are they really decently priced, though?

Price for Electrify America in Florida:

Guest and Pass Members: $0.43/kWh

Pass+ Members: $0.31/kWh + $4 monthly fee

Price for Supercharger in the same area: $0.23/kWh

In the Phoenix area, on their app, I count perhaps 6 - 7 charging stations, all far away from the city centers (such as they are, yes, I know) and another 5 - 6 coming soon. Closest one is 14 miles from me right now. I'm rooting for it but it's far from prime time. Yes I have a Tesla I charge at my apt.

EVGo is all around LA and if you have a AAA membership, you can get a 23 cents a minute rate which ain't too bad.

The same pangs endured when we went from horses to gas powered cars. Gas stations and their network expanded over decades. The only thing that can push this faster is the public sector. Regulatory mandates and incentives. The classic carrot and stick approach.

Isn't this effectively what the Michelin guide was for (of Michelin Star fame)


>Regulatory mandates and incentives. The classic carrot and stick approach.

What regulations drove todays adoption of the car?

Good grief. How about good 'ol market forces? EVs with range extenders to bridge the shortcomings of today? If you have the time and for lower cost on a trip, plug in. If you need the speed/convenience of gas you pay for it - but most trips would convert to electric. Gas would be reserved for the edge cases. Cars will still fundamentally work like cars when people need them to, but you can also get the benefits of the EV lifestyle.

Compromise without having to compromise on utility. It's win-win.

Mass adoption of transitional technology will do more to galvanize support for vast charging networks far more quickly (by - here's the crazy thought - producing actual demand!) then trying to conjure them out of sheer will and regulation.

The takeaway is that Tesla worked tirelessly into making charging (one of the major pain points of EV) as efficient and convenient as possible. And legacy manufacturers are now trying to catch up nearly a decade later.

I think the takeaway is that we ended up with two charging standards so instead of one complementing the other, they compete. It should have been standardized, like in Europe.

Teslas can use ChargePoint chargers. I don't think a lot of competitors make their cars compatible with superchargers, though.

They can't make it compatible with superchargers without some sort of integration with Tesla's system. When you go to a supercharger on a Tesla, all you have to do is to plug the car. No apps, not sign up, no credit card. The supercharger recognizes your car and the bill shows up on your Tesla account. This alone is ages ahead the competition.

> No apps, not sign up, no credit card

We have a BMW i3, and while there's a decent amount of CCS chargers around here in Norway, every other seems to be from a different company.

I exaggerate, but it truly is a pain to deal with, especially since they all have different prices and price structures. For

example our i3 can only handle 50kW charging, what happens when I plug it into a 150kW charger? Depends on who owns the charger, some charge per kWh delivered, some per minute. So for some it's gonna be OK, for others it's gonna cost more than filling up a gas tank.

They can if they work with Tesla (and share development costs) but so far none of them have.

There are some, according to Elon's response to this tweet: https://twitter.com/MKBHD/status/1340846145929670656

I belive this is mostly in the EU where they already have the CCS2 connector. I have not yet seen any North American car with a Tesla connector except _maybe_ the new prototype Aptera.

I agree it should be standardized and we should choose the Tesla connector which I belive is an open design.

Correct! Teslas have been reasonable for a lot of long distance travel with their superchargers for 5+ years. They built chargers between big cities, close enough to each other. Every other ev suffers in comparison for long distance travel. The writer did mention that it was different for teslas (still not perfect), but I don't think they really made it clear enough. With a tesla model s you can drive cross country and I can go almost anywhere, whether that is across Washington State to San Diego or BC to Banff.

They are now getting into the density game in a lot of markets which is very exciting. For example they are putting Superchargers at every single rest stop in NJ along I-95 (I think its like 8 total in a couple hundred mile span). With the density you can really optimize your charging since charging is very very fast at a low state of charge.

> Plus, the ChargePoint charger stubbornly refused to provide its full 150 kW payload despite 0 other vehicles charging at any linked station

That's because it's a 50 kW charger. It's displayed right on the screen as the image in the article shows:


I live in a city that’s within the top 150 by population, we have one Tesla supercharger. It’s at a nearly dead mall, only food there is a cafeteria style restaurant that isn’t great and no theater or anything. That mall borders a somewhat sketchy part of town. That’s my experience knowing EV charging unfortunately.

Also the lack of charging means I could not drive an EV to visit family members, only destination charging available at hotels where I wouldn’t be staying.

Obviously the supercharging network is constantly growing and it’s all still new, but in my neck of the woods its still pretty tough to have.

Top 150 is a weird stat to quote, as if you were trying to make your city (or town) seem larger than it is.

Assuming you mean the US, the 150th-largest city is Salem, Oregon, which has 174K people. [1] If that's the size of your city, and it's not in a part of the country that tends to buy Teslas, I'm slightly impressed that you have even have one supercharger.

[1] https://www.biggestuscities.com/

I mean technically I’m a city and a town away, but I was more just giving an example of the area that we are probably bigger than say just a rest area charger. Having only seen this one, it taints my perception of traveling with an electric vehicle. There are quite a few Tesla’s around here, and my neighborhood.

Aren't most superchargers (at least until relatively recently) actually between cities, not in them? The idea being that superchargers are primarily meant for road trips, so if you're going from city A to city B the assumption is you can charge at your origin and destination, so superchargers are spaced so you have enough juice to get there.

That’d be fine, but it’s 400 miles between here and family with one charger 150 miles from here. I could make it there with any current Tesla, but not make it back to a charger. Could make it work renting an RV spot but that’s still a little inconvenient.

There's urban chargers at 72kw and highway superchargers at 150-250kw max charging rate. The urban ones are often at major shopping destinations in high traffic areas.

Actually recently Urban SC development has seemed to come to almost a halt. Even in Urban settings it seems they much prefer to just put in the V3 cabinets with the 250kW max pedestals.

We drive to the in-laws, and just unplug their dryer and plug the Tesla adapter in and get back to full charge the next day.

Shreveport, LA or Pearl, MS?

Ha, I’m near Shreveport.

Title needs to append “... unless you have a Tesla”

My takeaway from this article was that the typical car review pattern of "show up at a random location, borrow car for the day, run random errands to empty the tank, refuel and return car" doesn't work well for EVs.

How would the author's experience have been different if the car was in their driveway fully charged in the morning?

Do most people go to bed at night with no idea what they'll be doing the following day or no consideration for how much fuel is in their vehicle?

One of the key things to understand about the relationship between charging infrastructure, range, and customer acceptability is that there are a number of non-linear relationships that lead to the experience tipping between "really bad" and "really good" very suddenly.

First, it doesn't matter that most journeys are short and that the overwhelming majority of drivers will make between zero and two really long range trips a year (yes, even in the US). People size their long term capital purchases based on their perception of the limiting case, not the average. Consumer willingness to rent a longer range vehicle for special occasions will also depend on how convenient that experience is. Many Americans drive long-distance in the Thanksgiving to Christmas window which would require enough long range capacity to be reliably available for all those people every year. Again, we have to size for the extremes of the system. Also, car rental may be logistically challenging (and is certainly currently inconvenient) in most of the rural areas where people are most likely to need long distance driving regularly.

Second, the amount of time that a driver will need to find an available charger is very much non-linear in the number and density of chargers. We know quite a lot about this dynamic from studies of parking. Once your parking capacity in a given area is filled by more than about 80%, the time taken to find a spot very rapidly increases from nearly zero to many minutes. I'm sure there are theoretical computer science problems which are analogous. (actually would love to hear if anyone knows of any since most of the infrastructure world has historically just looked at this empirically). The same dynamic happens with chargers. Like with parking, better information provision shifts that transition point. With perfect information.

Third, the stress induced by charger unavailability is also not linear in likely time required to find a charger.

This is particularly an issue for people who do not have off-street parking but do have cars. Admittedly this is much rare in the US but it is about a third of drivers in the UK and I imagine not uncommon in other European countries. That's because people need this as their default charger essentially every day so any inconvenience is substantially multiplied. Our thinking on public on-street charging for these cases is that you're much better off spending money on a lot of slow trickle chargers and absolutely saturating a neighbourhood with them rather than buying fewer 22kW fast chargers. Two reasons for that.

First, 22kW is a sort of "Inconvenient Valley" for public charging in domestic areas. It's not so fast that you can stay near your car but big enough that you never have enough of them to make it ok to just leave your car plugged in. That means that effective use requires coming home, plugging in and then realising as you get ready for bed that you should move your car so one of your neighbours can also come outside and use the charger. Faster 43-50kW chargers are much better in this context because they can be "cycled" a few times in the evening before everyone goes to bed. Otherwise you might as well just save the money and get many more slow chargers fed off lamp-posts to do overnight charging.

Second, You can reduce charger anxiety much more effectively by having an excess of slow chargers (even if that means that a fully empty battery is not fully charged by morning) than by having a lower probability of finding a higher power charger. That's because the slow charger effectively guarantees that you won't run out. Again, this is non-linear. An EV works just the same all the way down to zero charge but driver anxiety will start ramping at 15% or so.

What all of this means is that if charger build-out strategies go right, we will find that the transition from inconvenient to "why did we ever worry about this?" will happen faster than you might think.

Maybe there could be creative solutions to the problem.

In China for example, domestic EV startups are trying to come up with standards on swappable batteries. If the ideas work, it could be a separation of car companies, and battery subscription companies. The former sells cars without battery and the latter rents batteries from gas stations.

Of course it does. An absurd number of houses still only have 100 amp services.

Not many people have a 50 amp, 220V circuit lying around to dedicate to charging. If they do there's already a welder plugged into it.

Many European EV chargers have a "dynamic load balancing" feature that measures current at the main breaker, and dynamically allocates any spare capacity to the car.

I'm not aware of any North American chargers that do this... https://dccelectric.com/ sort of solves the problem with a big relay, so charging either runs at 100% or 0%.

I also don't know such equipment exist in Japan. We should need such equipment seriously in the future because our main breaker for home is mostly limited to max 60A/100V.

If I had to guess a whole lot more randomly chosen American houses have electrical clothes dryers than welders.

But they are not 50A usually. I’ve tripped my dryer breaker with my TIG welding aluminum before

Much more often 30A. But still usually sufficient to charge a car overnight.

There is (was?) a 30% federal tax credit (up to $1000) that covered the cost of installing a home EV charger (including upgrading your breaker panel/load center if needed).


Does anyone know if the proposed Infrastructure bill gives money for home chargers, or just 'gas station' ones?

It's 174 billion for EV which is absolutely what we need. But there is no way we can do it without paying to upgrade people's houses. Unless rapid charging gets a lot quicker.

I'm looking at getting a car for the first time in over a decade. I would love an electric, but our building is 110 years old. To upgrade my units power box thing alone was quoted 12k.

I'm not sure how to get a quote for the outside building or if it's even feasible to do EV here. But it will be a lot more than that.

May I email you?

sure! dillondoyle gmail

A panel upgrade alone is in the neighborhood of $5k. And if you have underground service and need new wires, that's another $25k.

While better than nothing, that's like saying the $7500 credit covered the cost of a new Model S.

What would be considered an acceptable amount of tax credit on offer? You want to reduce the burden on the person wanting to own an EV, but you also don’t want to incentivize price inflation for the upgrade and EV charger install.

To be clear, my comment was referencing the use of the term "covered." Covering the cost of something means it pays for it in its entirety, not a fractional coupon. I wouldn't say, "this coupon for 3 cents off a gallon covers my next tank of gas."

While the house may have a 100amp setup, the actual utility from the pole is probably capable of 200amps. Changing out your main breaker to 200amp is not that hard but may cost you an additional ~$1,000 for parts and labor.

Funny side note here—Was biking to the Target in Hicksville, NY and noticed a recharge station in the parking lot with the recharging cable lying on the ground.

How could you even trust such a station?

It's going to change soon. Plus if EVs get up to 500km in range, that makes it almost as much as an ICE vehicle and that means you can easily get around long enough to find a charger.

The nearest charge station to me is >100 miles away. Seriously any EV is NOT remotely in my future.

What is wrong with using the adapter to tag on to the Tesla supercharger network?

> since the battery charges slower as it approaches full charge

This is for safety and the health of the battery. It is not widely advertised and many people don't know that the fastest levels of charging (tesla supercharge and similar) actually damage the battery a very slight amount, and will reduce overall battery life span, cycle depth ability and health if used very often. It's healthier for your battery to charge at a medium speed overnight.

n=1, I’ve DC fast charged my Model S 100D a lot at Superchargers over roughly 40k miles of travel cross country, and I’ve only lost 14 miles of range since purchase.

It’s true that, at least with the S and X, excessive Supercharging will cause the battery to throttle peak charge currents for the remainder of the battery’s life, the Model 3 and Y chemistry doesn’t seem to exhibit the same throttling.

another factor will be whether you've set it to allow the car to often charge itself to 100% state of charge, or you commonly limit it to 80 or 85%. The length of time that a li ion battery is held at >90% state of charge voltage also has an impact on its life.

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