I regularly get emails from readers saying they will never buy an electric vehicle Because there is no place nearby to charge it.
They’re almost always wrong, but it’s not their fault: Electric Vehicle Charging Industry Does a pitiful job of letting people know where to find a charger.
“People are largely unaware of the current EV charging infrastructure,” said John Woelker, a journalist and analyst specializing in electric vehicles. “There are literally thousands of public charging stations now, soon there will be hundreds of thousands.”
Sick to pay for gas?:Things to keep in mind when buying your first electric car
Gas stations are impossible to miss. Every BP or Shell station has a lighted tower that is visible for miles, not to mention LED signs indicating prices and how to pay for each fuel grade. Not to mention brightly lit parking lots, restrooms and shopping plazas where you can get anything from Coke and candy bars to souvenirs, elk jerky and fresh, handcrafted subs. I’m not saying they’re good, but you’ll never go hungry on the interstate because you didn’t get one.
In comparison, finding an EV charger is a sadistic scavenger hunt. They lurk inside parking structures, in apparently random places in public places, behind car dealerships, on the least-trafficked side of Meijer and Whole Foods. Snag a soda or use the adjacent restroom? Keep dreaming
stop hiding charger
In a case near my house, a high-speed DC charger—the fastest, most desirable public charger—sits anonymously in Dunkin’ employee parking lot. The ranks of the six chargers in an adjoining parking structure are displayed by a sign that is not visible from the street: You can charge here, but don’t tell anyone. It is a secret.
I’ve guessed three times since 2013:Electric cars are great, but there’s a long way to go.
Suffice it to think that the charging companies work for Big Oil. They don’t, but failure to promote their service is a significant obstacle to widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
“Part of the problem is that EV owners have apps to locate stations nearby, but people who don’t have EVs don’t even know that apps exist, much less chargers,” said Chelsea Sexton, EV Advocate and a consulting producer. For the documentary “The Revenge of the Electric Car.”
EV owners typically do most of their daily charging work at home, when they pay a lower rate and are in no rush: a Level 2 charger is fine when you charge overnight.
More powerful DC fast chargers are important when people need to get back on the road quickly, said Andrew Fox, chairman and CEO of Charge Enterprises, which advises companies to charge.
“Even with DC fast charging, it’s not a 5-minute process,” he said. “What if you have four cars in front of you? We want fast chargers in as many places as possible. We need great marketing and we need big, lighted signs, and you need a corner from the street.”
The days of a lone charger sitting in an empty corner of the parking lot must be over. Fox said gas stations earn most of their profits on food, drink, everything but gasoline. Charging stations should be the same, but with the financial benefit that drivers are paying for every minute their cars sit in the parking lot.
how to fix it
Infrastructure Bill awaiting Congress action Includes $7.5 billion to promote a national network for charging EVs. Not a single, state-owned network, but a collection of private and public entities putting up enough charging stations that availability is not a concern.
Qualifying for funds should include a few simple steps – and important information – to make it easy for people to find and use chargers:
- They should be easily visible from the road or highway.
- Identify payment options and charging networks of stations: Electrification America, EVgo, etc.
- Reveal Whats Charging Speed?
- How many chargers are there?
- How many are free now?
Charging can be complicated, but making it simple isn’t that hard: Tell people where they can do it, how much it costs, and how to pay.
Do that, and make those stations common on highways where people are farthest from their convenient evening recharge at home, and more people will be willing to consider an EV for their next car.
“Every station should do what you’d expect from a vending machine,” Sexton said. “What do you want? Potato chips? That’ll be 50 cents. Put your money here, the chips will be out there.”