"Neither Easy Nor Fast": Electric Vehicle Owners Admit To "Logistical Nightmare" Over Charging
Owners of electric vehicles are finally admitting that recharging away from home is a total "logistical nightmare," between finding charging stations, and the fact that in the best case scenarios it takes 30 to 40 minutes, and up to two hours, to recharge.
"We're going through the planning process of how easily Maddie can get from Albany to Gettysburg [College] and where she can charge the car," said YouTube personality Steve Hammes, who leased a Hyunday Kona Electric SUV for his 17-year-old daughter, Maddie.
"It makes me a little nervous. We want fast chargers that take 30 to 40 minutes -- it would not make sense to sit at a Level 2 charger for hours. There isn't a good software tool that helps EV owners plan their trips," he told ABC News.
The report comes on the heels of the Biden administration's announcement that Tesla would open its Supercharger network to non-Tesla owners by the end of next year - a plan which includes 3,500 Tesla fast chargers and 4,000 of the slower, Level 2 chargers.
John Voelcker, an industry expert on EVs and the former editor of Green Car Reports, said this arrangement will allow Tesla to learn a lot about U.S. drivers -- "how you charge, where you drive and what car you have." He does not expect Tesla to commit to additional charging stations.
"Tesla does not want its highly reliable and tightly integrated charging network to be clogged with people whose cars can't charge as fast as Teslas," he told ABC News. -ABC News
To try and cope with an increase in EVs, the Biden administration's 2021 infrastructure law has a goal of installing 500,000 new chargers across the country - as well as dramatically boosting EV sales, by 2030.
That said, Voelcker hasn't seen much improvement in the nation's recharging infrastructure over the past four years, and says he's heard a food of complaints over dead chargers and 'sticky cables.'
"The incentive right now is to get stations in the ground," he said. "It's not making sure they actually work."
Car and Driver editor-in-chief Tony Quiroga, says he's now been forced to wander around a local Walmart in Burbank, California while his Tesla recharges. He's also become a regular at a Mohave, California Mexican restaurant, where a Telsa charger is located.
"I imagine an ecosystem will be built around charging stations eventually," he told ABC News. "Longer trips bring up flaws with EVs. People are leery of taking them on long trips -- that's why older EVs don't have 40,000 miles on them."
Last March Swedish automaker Volvo and Starbucks said they were teaming up to install as many as 60 DC fast chargers at 15 Starbucks stores along a 1,350-mile route that spans from Seattle to Denver.
Quiroga's sister, who lives in Northern California, takes her internal combustion car -- not her Tesla Model S -- when she needs to drive across the state. Even Quiroga's team of reporters has to carefully plan and calculate how far EV charging stations are when they conduct comparison tests among manufacturers. -ABC News
"These comparisons tests are a logistical nightmare. We plan meals around recharging the vehicles," said Quiroga. "We need to have the battery at 100% or close to it to test a vehicle's performance. We have to time everything -- it requires more work."
What's more, the range of EVs plummets in the cold, or if you use things like the heater.
Sharon Bragg of Clifton Park, New York, has to charge her Ford Mustang Mach-E GT more frequently in the winter months. The GT's EPA rating is 270 miles on a full charge. Bragg said it's closer to 200 in the colder weather. Last December a Level 2 charging plug got stuck in her Mach-E and would not budge. After multiple failed attempts by bystanders, she called an electrician, who blew hot air on the plug for 20 minutes to release it.
"The whole process took two hours," she told ABC News. "I was in the parking lot from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It was a cold day."
That said, Quiroga of Car and Driver calls these inconveniences "teething pains," which he says have greatly improved over the years.
"Where we are now versus 10 years ago -- it's radically different," he said. "Range has tripled, even quintupled. Look at the Lucid Air -- it gets over 500 miles of range in a single charge."
Now if states like California could only provide an infrastructure robust enough to handle EV demand legislated over the next 10-15 years...