Its well documented, lamented, and discussed that electric vehicle charging during road trips is more challenging than at home.
Many EV owners have already installed 240-volt Level 2 at-home charging stations that recharge EV batteries overnight. Many Level 2 stations are used in public locations as well, but this isn’t a practical solution for drivers attempting to complete a road trip. While EV driving can be practical and useful when staying within a specific range of your home charger, heading out on the road for a long road trip is still an impractical adventure.
EV ownership requires a bit of forethought
Recently, one EV owner learned of the challenges of taking an electric vehicle out on a road trip. He leased a Hyundai Kona Electric for his 17-year-old daughter to drive, which she could charge at home, allowing her to keep her money for college instead of putting it in the gas tank. Now, this parent faces a problem of sending his daughter away to college in this vehicle. Finding reliable Level 3 DC fast-charging stations can be a challenge. While there might be enough Level 2 chargers along the way, this isn’t a practical solution.
Maintenance has become a huge problem
Although it seems new electric vehicle charging stations should be useable, reliable, and functioning at all times, especially when new, some don’t work right if at all. The EV charging industry has a serious maintenance problem that needs to be fixed. Some chargers have been in operation for several years already and should have required maintenance and upkeep performed on them. The federal government is pushing hard to get new charging stations in the ground as quickly as they can, but what are they doing about maintaining these EV stations?
Demand charges could defeat the cost savings of EVs
Public charging stations are subject to demand charges which is a fixed monthly fee for the large amount of available energy required to operate a charging station. These fees are passed on to the drivers in the form of payments per kW of charging. Unless these charging networks find a way around these demand charges, otherwise, the cost to refuel an EV with electricity might rival the same cost to refill a gasoline tank.
Some states and local governments have lots of red tape
Typically, red tape describes the hurdles a business must jump over just to get something through and working. This can be caused by local regulators or overprotective council that doesn’t want any change in their community. Installing electric vehicle charging stations signals a step forward, which some communities fight tooth and nail. Currently, 20 states have major electric car incentives and others are considering them. That’s still less than half of the country, which seems a bit slow since we should see sales of EVs increase significantly over the next seven years.
More at-home chargers are required
Many automakers offer programs to install an EV charger at no cost to a homeowner, but that only works for homeowners. Renters would need the permission of landlords to have these chargers installed. Its worse for residents in large cities that have to park on the street where a private EV charger isn’t located. These EV owners have to find alternative methods of charging for their new vehicles. This can be a serious problem and might be one of the greatest reasons some drivers will stick with their gas-powered models.
More charging ports at each station will be necessary
Not every EV on the road is capable of accepting DC fast-charging or doing so in an expedient manner. The 10 minutes you might wait at a gas station for the person in front of you to finish their business in the convenience store can grow to three or four times that amount at an EV charging station. Thankfully, an EV charger can be set up in front of a parking space to make it easier and allow these locations offer more ports than typical gas stations.
The coal argument continues
Even in 2023, most of our electrical energy is produce by burning coal. This is the dirtiest and worst way to create this energy, but it’s also one of the safest methods. We haven’t found ways to capture enough water flow energy, wind energy, or solar energy to power an entire city effectively. This leave nuclear energy, which can be dangerous if not managed properly. Nuclear is clean and can be plentiful, but still frightening, especially when many will point to Chernobyl as an example. We need more clean, renewable energy powering these electric vehicle charging stations to make them viable.
Some of these problems are being addressed
Most recently, the federal government entered an agreement with Tesla to open its Supercharger network up to non-Tesla owners. While the EV giant isn’t opening all of its charging stations, this will provide 3,500 Tesla fast chargers and 4,000 Level 2 chargers that wouldn’t have been available to non-Tesla owners in the past. This Supercharging network is known to be reliable and offer excellent charging processes.
The government needs to review its plan and do more
If half of the cars sold in the United States will be zero-emissions EVs by 2030, more charging stations than originally planned will be required. The original plan set forth in 2021 is for 500,000 new chargers. This number should probably be doubled in order to support the increased sales of these electric vehicles. Even 1,000,000 new Level 3 chargers might not be enough to support the needs of an entire country.
App support is required
Some electric vehicle charging companies have apps that help drivers see where their chargers are located and if they’re operational, but this should be something that’s more centralized. There needs to be a singular app that can tell EV drivers where the next working charging station is located for their vehicle.
Although we’re on the fast track to incredible expansion of EV sales and driving, the infrastructure to support the electric vehicle charging needs of these new models isn’t where it should be yet. Will this infrastructure catch up in time?
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