I feel like I need a reality check when it comes to automakers’ plans for fully electric vehicles in the relatively short term. Let me say that I love a lot of things about electric vehicles: the mechanical simplicity, the flexibility of the design, and the torque – oh my God – the torque!
But an electric vehicle requires electricity, and while you can plug into a 110-volt outlet, a toddler can crawl at about the same rate the batteries will charge — one to three miles of extra range. per hour of charge.
The answer for home users is a Level 2 charger – now we’re talking. In about six hours or so, you can fully charge your vehicle. (What does it take to fill an 18 gallon tank? Two to four minutes?) Oh. And this charger will cost you about $500 to $2000 to purchase and about another $1000 to install. But what do the tens of millions of people who live in apartment complexes or condos do when they don’t have their own parking spot to install a charging station?
The answer we tend to hear is a level 3 or “super” charger that can deliver around 80% charge in about 30 minutes. This time commitment is the one that becomes more palatable. Level 3 loaders, however, cost around $50,000 each!
Let’s say we have Super Chargers available at apartment complexes, train stations or shopping malls that allow a vehicle to be charged in 45 minutes. Guess what? Few people run to move their car when it is fully loaded. They treat these spaces as parking spaces! I saw one at a train station, and it had been there so long it had started gathering dust.
The next hurdle in this push for electric vehicles is manufacturers announcing their maximum range at, say, 250 miles. But what they don’t adequately disclose is that they recommend charging the batteries to only 80-90% of their maximum capacity. So your 250 is immediately reduced to 200 and then further reduced in cold or hot weather when using options such as heated seats, air conditioning, etc. Soon you find that your effective range at 50 miles per hour is about three hours of driving. .
But EVs are good for the environment. Maybe. I don’t know about this one. Do we really think that the electricity that powers these electric vehicles is “clean”? A statistic from the US Energy Information Administration indicates that approximately 60% of US electricity comes from coal and natural gas. Together, they represent 98% of the C02 (1.4 billion metric tons) emitted annually during the production of electricity. By comparison, passenger vehicles emitted only about half that amount in 2019.
Let’s talk about the alleged shortage of licensed electricians to get the tens of millions of Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations deployed across the country (not just on the coasts).
Are EVs the solution? I do not know. Companies such as Volvo and Jaguar say they will all be electric vehicles by 2030 and GM says they will all be electric vehicles by 2035. They certainly seem to believe they are the solution. They are apparently betting the future of the company that a holistic solution for a grid to support all of these vehicles within the next 10 years is inevitable. They obviously believe that consumers will be willing to live with the current limitations of electric vehicles (or that there will be massive advancements in battery and charging technology). I have complete confidence in the innovative brilliance that pervades our world for our best and brightest to overcome many EV challenges.
It seems to me that we are on the way to a reasonable hybrid solution. Hybrids have reduced fuel economy over similarly sized vehicles in the low 30 mpg mid-50s range, CO2 emissions are significantly reduced, there’s no range anxiety and you have the ability to plug in and charge some models. Consider the brilliance of the Chevy Volt, which used old WWII submarine technology to run on electricity with a small gasoline engine that would recharge the batteries right on board.
Hmmm. Sounds pretty smart.
Originally posted on Car fleet