Tesla to expand Charging Network which may lead to the Success and then Failure of the All-Electric Car

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 1st, 2013

Week in Review

There’s nothing like hitting the open road.  And just driving wherever your car takes you.  Because for some it’s the journey.  Not the destination.  For America has a special love affair with their cars.  They are symbolic of the liberty our Founding Fathers gave us.  The freedom to go anywhere.  All you need is a tank full of gas.  And a gas station or two along the way.  Which is something the all-electric car just can’t do.  But it’s not for a lack of trying (see Tesla tripling supercharger network for LA to NY trip by Chris Isidore posted 5/31/2013 on CNNMoney).

Musk said that the expansion of the network of superchargers, which allow the company’s cars to be recharged in about an hour, will cover most major metropolitan areas in the United States and southern Canada. While owners can charge the car using ordinary electrical current at home overnight, the supercharging stations are important for relieving drivers’ anxiety about running out of power and being stranded on long journeys.

“It is very important to address this issue of long-distance travel,” he said. “When people buy a car, they’re also buying a sense of freedom, the ability to go anywhere they want and not feel fettered.”

I don’t know about you but waiting an hour to recharge while on a road trip kind of defeats the purpose of hitting the open road.  Driving.  An hour doesn’t seem like a long time.  But the next time you go to a gas station stay there for an hour and see how it really feels.

At a speed limit of 70 MPH that’s like adding an additional 70 miles to your trip every time you stop to charge.  Or more.  For what happens if all the chargers are in use and there is a line of Tesla cars waiting for a charger when you arrive at one of these charging stations?  Because you’re not the only person driving a Tesla?  What then?  Whenever you pulled into a gas station with every pump in use you never had to wait 2 or 3 hours for your chance to spend an hour fueling your car.  But the success of all-electric cars could very well do this.  If enough people are driving them.  Well, the success would be short-lived.  For after the first hour-plus wait for a charge people will no doubt sell their all-electric cars.  And buy something gasoline-powered instead.

And here’s another thought.  Some horrific storms just blew through the Midwest.  Causing some huge power outages.  Right along some major interstate arteries passing through the state.  What do you do then?  When you need a charge and there is no electric power available?  Chances are that you’d have enough gasoline to get you to a gas station that didn’t lose its power.  But if there is only a charger every 80-100 miles you’re going to need a tow to the next charging station.  Making it harder and harder to enjoy your journey.  While your gasoline-powered companions mock you as they continue on enjoying their journey.

Someone should think long and hard about these things before pouring so much money into a charging infrastructure.  For that infrastructure will only work if they have few cars using it.  In fact, the success of the Tesla could very well lead to the failure of the all-electric car market.  When the reality of the charging problems of the all-electric car become apparent to all-electric car owners.  Who simply won’t want to spend a large part of their day waiting for a charge.  Or a tow truck.



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Charging your Electric Car will be as Simple as Understanding your Cellular Bill

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

People hate the high price of gasoline.  And bought electric cars so they could laugh at those poor saps still buying gasoline.  For with their electric car all they needed was to plug in when they needed some charge and go on their way.  Of course, they didn’t think about that charging part so carefully.  For plugging in at home is one thing.  And appears to be free.  Because your electric meter doesn’t itemize your electric use.  But when you’re looking from a charge away from home some may have been surprised to see there is a cost for electricity.  When they can even find a place to plug in (see Merging networks give electric car drivers more places to charge by Eric Evarts posted 3/8/2013 on Consumer Reports).

It ought to go without saying that with relatively few public chargers for electric cars, if you have an electric car you ought to be able to plug into any one of them.

That wasn’t the case last year, when highlighted the challenges EV owners face when traveling beyond the range of a home recharge…But now with a new partnership forged, it is getting much easier for EV drivers to recharge on the go.

The two largest charging network providers, Ecotality (Blink) and Chargepoint, have come together to create a joint billing and data connection called Collaboratev. As a result, Collaboratev will allow each network’s customers to charge up at any Blink or Chargepoint charger by swiping a single card and get a single bill. The networks are working to recruit other, smaller networks to the system, as well.

So charging your electric car will be like using your cell phone.  Or an ATM.  Where different costs and fees may apply depending where you are.  It’s not like that with gasoline.  Where any cluster of gas stations will have similar prices.  Making it easy to choose.  For the only price you need to know is on the gas station sign.  And you don’t have to worry about getting a monthly bill later with additional charges or fees added in.  Now that’s convenience.

Also, having more charging stations available doesn’t solve another problem.  You can pull into any gas station, pump gas for about 10 minutes, then go on driving.  And you can have your lights on and your air conditioning or heat on high.  Even drive on the highway for another 5-6 hours easily.  And you just won’t be able to do that with an electric car.  Where the limited range will make you very nervous on the drive home if you get stuck in traffic.  At night.  During a snow storm.  With your headlights on.  And your heat and defrosters on high to keep your windows clear.

You’ll be sweating bullets.  And praying that you have enough charge to get home.  While your gasoline-powered companions on the road have no such concern.  For if they run low on gas they can pull into a gas station.  Top off their tank.  And be back in that traffic jam some 15 minutes later.  Whereas if you run out of charge you will have to call a tow truck.  For you can’t go to a service station and come back with a can of charge to pour into the battery.  No.  You’ll need a tow to a charger.  And an hour or so to charge.  Or more.  Depending on the voltage.

This is the price of the all-electric car.  Convenience.  And security.  Something that gasoline gives you.  Which is why it is the dominant fuel we use.  Because there is nothing better.



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New 480V Charging Stations allow about an Hour’s Drive between Half-Hour Charges

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 17th, 2012

Week in Review

They found a cure for the range anxiety of electric cars.  A fortune in infrastructure spending.  Now all they need to find a cure for is time anxiety (see First big piece of ‘Electric Highway’ gets juice by JEFF BARNARD posted 3/16/2012 on the Associated Press).

Spaced about every 25 miles, the stations allow a Nissan Leaf with a range of about 70 miles to miss one and still make it to the next. Electric car drivers will be able to recharge in about 20 minutes on the fast-chargers. The charge is free for now.

“I would say range-anxiety with these fast chargers will be nearly a non-issue for me,” said Justin Denley, who owns a Nissan Leaf and joined the caravan.

Inspired by the stations, his family is planning a trip from Medford to Portland, a distance of about 280 miles. Last summer, he took the family on a 120-mile trip to the coast and had to include an overnight stop at an RV park to charge up.

He expects the trip to Portland to take perhaps three hours longer than in a gas car, because the only chargers available for the last 100 miles are slower, level 2 chargers.

Level 1 car chargers use 110 volts, like a regular home outlet, and it can take an entire night to charge a vehicle. Level 2 uses 240 volts, like a home dryer or range, and can charge a car in three or four hours.

But Level 3, which uses 480 volts of direct current, makes en route charging feasible by boosting a Nissan Leaf’s 45-kilowatt battery from a 20 percent charge to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes.

Are we there yet?  Parents had better get used to hearing this.  Especially if they have to stop every two hours for a half hour rest to recharge the car.  If they’re at a charging stating with a Level 3 charger.  And if they are I hope they keep the kiddies away from it.  For they don’t even let licensed electricians to connect and disconnect a 480 volt circuit without the proper protective clothing.  It’s a little thing we call arc-flash.  The electrical flash as a high-voltage circuit connects or disconnects as the voltages makes the current jump the air gap.  Ionizing the air like a bolt of lightning.

If you’re not lucky enough to have a dangerous voltage to plug into then you might as well look for the charging stations with the motels attached.  Or an RV park where the family can bed down in their shoebox of a car.  To spend the night when their batteries recharge.  Adding an extra night or two to that afternoon drive.  A family drive that we made once upon a time in a gasoline-powered car.  Leaving and returning home on the same day.  On a single tank of gas.  Lucky for us these days we have time to kill in our lives.  Money to burn.  And children who love to sit quietly in a car for hours on end and have large bladders.



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