Monday, July 30, 2012

3 Questions: Will EV Range Be A Problem For You?

Let’s get right to it:
1. How much do you drive per day today?
2. Where do you spend most of my time?
3. Where do you charge?
Range is one of the biggest concerns people have when considering a full electric vehicle. Two of the most common concerns are highlighted and explored below:

“I won't be able to drive my EV as far as I can drive my car now.”
First off, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt also feature a gas tank so it can fuel and operate like a normal car. If you don’t exceed the EV range of about 37 miles, you may never burn a drop of gasoline, but will also not be slowed down during those longer trips. But what about the numerous fully electric cars in and coming to market like the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV and others?
The real question is, “Do I really need to drive that far on one charge?” According to the US Department of Energy, in 2009, the average household vehicle was driven 11,300 miles. What does this mean for you? As an average driver, including commuting, shopping, errands, joy rides, and vacations, you're likely to drive only 31 miles per day.
The Nissan LEAF's range is EPA estimated at 73 miles per charge, which is likely more than enough to get you around for a couple days without worrying about a recharge. The Mitsubishi MiEV's range is EPA estimated at 62 miles per charge, so again, LIKELY no need to worry about getting to work and back and getting a few errands done before you have to worry about “running out of juice.”  The Toyota RAV4 EV is designed for 100 miles per charge and some of the Tesla S models feature several hundred miles of charge. Drivers should keep in mind that their actual range will vary depending on driving/charging habits, speed, conditions, weather, and temperature, use of A/C and heater and battery age. In addition, new public charging infrastructure is being installed all over the US to help ease this anxiety and allowing recharging or “topping off,” while running errands. Employers across the nation are also considering and installing charging infrastructure or are simply providing 110v outlets to allow employees to recharge while at work.

“The range is fine, but charging my car is going to be a hassle.”
This big question here should be; where do I spend most of my time? Think about recharging your other ubiquitous device, the mobile phone. If you are reading this, it is highly likely you have a mobile phone, maybe in your hand right now. Do you plug it in just before going to bed at night? If you are like most Americans, you will be at home at LEAST 6-8 hours at some point in the day.
Sometimes even during the day we might have to recharge our high-powered smart phones, tablets, and laptops. It's part of our routine that we have developed to accommodate these devices. In time recharging your electric vehicle can become part of a routine. Come home at night, and plug it into the 240-volt charging system installed in your garage or driveway, and your fully electric vehicle will be fully charged before your coffee is done in the morning. As most of us spend many hours a week at the office, some businesses and universities are installing charging stations for their employees, faculty, students, and even local EV drivers.
“Wait, what if my commute is longer, or I'm out of town? How will I charge my car?” There are charging stations popping up across the country and are available that can charge your car's batteries, some to 80% capacity in as little as 30 minutes.  
The following charging maps have pretty slick interfaces:
Over time these charging stations will become more common. Should you require a charge on a longer trip or vacation, Recargo and CarStations have mobile apps that can find a local charging station, it's availability, and how to get there. Some of these charging stations are even free to use.

So Again We Should Ask Ourselves:
1. How much do you drive per day today? 
2. Where do I spend most of my time? 
3. Where do I charge?

            The Author, Benjamin Jerew, has been a ASE, Toyota, and Lexus, Master Certified Technician for over ten years. Branching out now, he's been investigating alternative fuels and how they impact the vehicles, their drivers, and the environment. Wherever the wind takes him, his heart will always be in upstate New York.

1 comment:

  1. Nissan has their tool as well, and I think they have an app for that.