Industry Insider Says Public Charging Infrastructure Not That Important

· · 6 years ago

On a conference call today, hosted by the Electric Drive Transportation Association, Mark Duvall, Director of Electric Transportation at the Electronic Power Research Institute, hammered down a bit on the topic of how much we really need to spend to build an effective charging infrastructure.

"The charging infrastructure to support electric vehicles is not the most complicated problem there is, but it's often a poorly understood problem," Said Duvall. "It's important to note that two-thirds of the time a car is parked at its home parking space, and about another 15% of the time it is parked at work, and every other location for that vehicle is a fraction of a percentage point." It is for just these reasons, remarked Duvall, that we really need to place the "overwhelming focus" on getting at-home and employer-installed charging going, but that our focus on the public infrastructure is misplaced.

In terms of home installations there are complications with getting condominium and homeowners associations to put in banks of charging stations for the residents that are purchasing electric vehicles and apartment dwellers could be out of luck, but, as several respondents on the call pointed out, the first wave of EVs is not really targeted at those kinds of customers. Over time, it is hoped, we will come up with solutions.

As for business installations, Duvall said that EPRI "really thinks it's a positive if employers provide charging facilities for their employees to use." If an employer wants to attract and keep their employees who drive plug-ins, it's a pretty simple equation, no? "A lot of times people point out that [business charging] could potentially cause charging on peak, but in reality, if you look at how the vehicles are driven a typical workplace charging scenario would have the cars charging in the morning with almost all the cars fully charged before the afternoon peak starts," added Duvall.

One of the most interesting aspects of Duvall's comments came in relation to the whole public charging infrastructure debate. As I've said before, I think most public charging stations will sit idle and unused most of the time, and Duvall seems to share that sentiment.

"It's very important to understand that this infrastructure is very expensive and has a somewhat uncertain business case," he said. "There's almost a controversy over how much charging public infrastructure is actually needed. Once we start using vehicles and collecting information on them, I think we'll understand that we can cost effectively support a lot of vehicles on a very reasonable amount of infrastructure. Vehicles are parked at home or in front of the workplace about 80% of the time, and they're driving 5% of the time, so they don't need to spend a lot of time at these public infrastructure installations."

Certainly public charging is going to present a conundrum. We don't really even know if anybody's going to use it, but governments and utilities are concerned that without it people won't buy the cars.

Comments

· · 6 years ago

Amen. That is all...

· · 6 years ago

Amen^2 :) Yeah, we really do get so hung up on this issue for some reason, but I think it's based much more on our current cultural need for controversy than any kind of reality-based problem.

· · 6 years ago

At the beginning, public charging is not necessary. 75% of people commute not more than 40 miles per day. It means that almost 75% of families (a little bit less) can buy a Nissan Leaf as a second car specifically to commute to work and have another car for all other purposes. There is a market for tens of millions of this kind of second cars. Manufactures will not be able to produce so many cars for many years. After these many years electrical cars technologies may advanced so much that that this problem may not exist altogether.

· Anonymous · 6 years ago

Having a charge connection at home, I agree. I rarely use public chargers.
*But* what about people who live in apartments, without charging, who will depend entirely on "out and about" opportunistic charging to consider using an EV?

Also, there are opportunities for public fast chargers (400V+) for road trips.
Not many people have that sort of high current capability at home.

· · 6 years ago

It is just that Public Charging Infrastructure statement is often used to delay bringing of EVs because they say that the market is not ready for EV without Public Charging Infrastructure. All I want to say is that there is a hundred of millions of EVs market in the USA right now without any Public Charging Infrastructure!!!
Sure Public Charging Infrastructure is useful but I am just against of using this argument against bringing EVs to the mass market.

· Anonymous · 6 years ago

@Anonymous
The article already said so, BEVs do not work well for apartment dwellers (lots of risk of not finding a charging spot even for simple commuting usage), and right now it would make sense not to target them yet.

There is a huge market which we can target right now even without public infrastructure (used as a second commuter car with a garage) Once we address this market, then there will gradually be enough EVs to justify a business case for fast chargers and other kinds of public infrastructure. Right now it makes almost no business sense, so it is mainly government money being spent on public charging, and that money may be better spent elsewhere.

· Anonymous · 6 years ago

Yes, perhaps grants for home chargers, and for workplaces would be the best bet for now.

· · 6 years ago

Build the cars. Any other activity is just a misguided or malicious distraction.
I charge 95% at home even though I have a work charging facility.

· Anonymous · 6 years ago

I agree about not going overboard on the build-out. Seems like public infrastructure will give peace of mind more than anything - a good thing, considering all the FUD about range anxiety. When people actually get a chance to drive an electric car they'll realize that plugging in at home is all most people ever need.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Putting high speed chargers at dealerships makes sense.
(On the rare occasion) when you bring your car in for service they could top it off for you. Also if you ever ran out of charge, the default could be to tow to the nearest dealership.
If you needed to go on a longer road trip, making 30 minute stops at dealerships along the way could be a viable solution for larger manufacturers that have them within say 50 miles of each other.
(Most would have a decent lounge area with restrooms and you would have a chance to chat up others there about the EV experience while you waited.)

Leaf owners, for instance, would have more peace of mind if they knew they could always stop at any Nissan dealership to get recharged. Also, dealerships are likely in industrial locations with 440V available.

Tesla may want to consider quick chargers at their dealerships for future Model S customers.

So, yeah, slow charge downtown not so needed, quick charge at the dealership or along the interstate - more useful.

· TEG (not verified) · 6 years ago

Putting high speed chargers at dealerships makes sense.
(On the rare occasion) when you bring your car in for service they could top it off for you. Also if you ever ran out of charge, the default could be to tow to the nearest dealership.
If you needed to go on a longer road trip, making 30 minute stops at dealerships along the way could be a viable solution for larger manufacturers that have them within say 50 miles of each other.
(Most would have a decent lounge area with restrooms and you would have a chance to chat up others there about the EV experience while you waited.)

Leaf owners, for instance, would have more peace of mind if they knew they could always stop at any Nissan dealership to get recharged. Also, dealerships are likely in industrial locations with 440V available.

Tesla may want to consider quick chargers at their dealerships for future Model S customers.

So, yeah, slow charge downtown not so needed, quick charge at the dealership or along the interstate - more useful.

· Shannon (not verified) · 6 years ago

It does seem silly to me, that everyone thinks the key to electric cars is public infrastructure. Think about it, the only reason you need public infrastructure for gas cars, is because it's both impractical, and unsafe to have gasoline home delivered for your car nightly. EV's benefit from the already existing public infrastructure of the power company.

What it seems we need here really, is a general legislation that says EV drivers must be supported, even as renters or members of an HOA. Similar to the FCC rulings that dictate every American can have satellite TV dishes on his house if he so chooses.

Just a thought.

· Ernie (not verified) · 6 years ago

@TEG:

Nevermind RV parks. Many already have the infrastructure in place for high-speed charging at 240V and 50 amps (for comparison, your dryer uses about 20A), which they currently use for plugging RVs into the grid. If you want to go on a road trip, just find all the RV parks along your route and call them ahead of time to see if they have 50 amp service.

After a significant number of EVs are on the road, RV parks will probably advertise this fact with big, bright signs. Problem solved. :)

· · 6 years ago

I am not the least bit worried about charging infrastructure. If it's there I probably won't even use it except maybe in a case where I forgot to plug in the night before which shouldn't happen.

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