Do we really need a quick charging infrastructure for EVs?

A post at New Energy View on Electric Vehicle (EV) economics and charging stations got me thinking about public charging stations and range anxiety again.

I think public rapid charging stations are a wast of time. Like New Energy View, I think personal EVs will be charged up almost exclusively at night, and charging stations need only be there to add a little bit of range to combat range anxiety.

I’ve long thought the best option for public charging would be standard 120V/20A outlets at large retail/grocery stores. At 3.6-3.8 mi/kWh, that’s only enough for an additional mile of range for 7 minutes of charging, but the outlets would be cheap to install (probably no more than $100 each, and would be enough to help a lot with range anxiety.

Suppose you are considering an 80 mile trip in your EV that normally has 75 to 100 miles of range, depending on driving conditions. (This large a range variation is not unusual.) If there were no public charging option, you wouldn’t do it, fearing being stranded. But if you know that there were a few 120V charging stations available near your route, you probably would be willing, since you probably would not need them, but if it looked like you were using up energy faster than normal, you could go grocery shopping while your car was charging, and add the extra 5 miles of range you might need in the time it takes you to run your errand.

Hence five to ten 120V charging stations could do a lot more to combat range anxiety and increase the number of trips taken by EVs a lot more than one quick charge station.

Plus there is an added bonus: e-bikes and electric scooters (which I expect to have much more rapid market penetration than electric cars because of the vastly superior economics) could use these low voltage charging stations to add significantly to their range in relatively short periods of time. While an electric car might only get 3-4 miles per kWh, an e-Bike can get 40-60 miles per kWh, which means an e-Bike will charge at a rate of about 2 miles of range per minute of charging.

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2 Comments

  1. Joy Hughes said

    Yes.
    Prieto nanowire batteries have a much higher power density than regular Li – they could charge 100x as fast. So you could get a full charge before you make it back to the milk aisle.

  2. Tom said

    Joy,
    I don’t think you understood my argument. For the type of cheap charging infrastructure I’m advocating, the limitation is not the batteries, it’s the charger, and the charger /grid infrastructure is even more likely to be the limiting factor with faster charging batteries like you’re talking about.

    My point is that speed of charging is not nearly as big a deal as the policy so far seems to assume. Hence fancy nanowire batteries are probably not that big a deal, either.

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