EV Charging Infrastructure Falling Behind

This past week, my wife brought a local news report to my attention.  The report stated that ChargePoint had recently installed 19 EV (electric vehicle) chargers near a parking garage in downtown San Luis Obispo.  At first glance, I thought it was wonderful news.  I always enjoy seeing positive news about EVs.  However, the more I thought about these new chargers, the more I thought how they are basically useless for today’s EV owner.

When EVs started to take hold more than 5 years ago, with the exception of Tesla, the range of the average EV was around 100 miles.  With limited range, EVs need destination charging stations located at places where the EV owners want to visit.  If I had an EV that had around 100 miles of range, I would need a charger, like the new ChargePoint chargers, in order to drive from my home to San Luis Obispo and back.  With the increased range of EVs today, the 19 new ChargePoint chargers are basically obsolete.

The new ChargePoint chargers deliver a maximum 6.6 kW of AC power.  For the average EV, charging at that rate provides about 25 miles of range per hour of charging.  ChargePoint charges $1.50 per hour to charge at these chargers.  The charging fee increases to $4.00 per hour for any charging time over 4 hours.  That’s equivalent to paying around $2.00 per gallon for gasoline, if you charge for no more than 4 hours.  It’s not a great price, but it is a good price.

The problem with these types of chargers is that, if you own an EV that has over 200 miles of range, there is no point to using these chargers.  My EV has a full range of about 300 miles.  If I am traveling to San Luis Obispo from my home, which is about 35 miles away, I can easily drive round-trip without recharging.  My home charger is 9.5 kW and I pay about $0.18 per kWh.  I get 38 kWh in 4 hours at a cost of a little over $6.  The ChargePoint chargers deliver about 26 kWh in 4 hours at a cost of $6.  It’s less expensive for me to charge at my house than to use the ChargePoint destination chargers, and my house is a lot more convenient.

If I am traveling a long distance with San Luis Obispo as my destination, it is likely that I will need more of a charge than I can get at the ChargePoint chargers.  For a longer trip, I would need a DC fast charger or a Tesla Supercharger.  If I need to recharge, getting 26 kWh in 4 hours is not sufficient.  When traveling, fast charging is necessary, unless you plan to stay overnight at your charging destination.  Using the ChargePoint chargers would not work for overnight charging because of their 4-hour charging limit.

Perhaps you are seeing my point now?  Someone had to pay to install these 19 destination chargers.  If they are useless to most of today’s EV owners, what was the point of installing them in the first place?  The only place where it is reasonable to have such low-powered destination chargers is at a location where an EV owner would be parking for more than 4 hours, such as at a hotel.

There are a few locations in my area that have destination chargers available for use at no charge.  It makes sense to plug into a free destination charger while shopping.  It is what is known as convenience charging, as opposed to necessity charging.  If I shop at a location that has a free destination charger, I will plug in if a charger is available.  It does not make sense to use a paid, low-capacity destination charger when I don’t need to charge.

A DC fast charging station would have been more useful at the San Luis Obispo location.  A couple of years ago, I visited the city of Victoria, BC while driving a Tesla Model S.  At that time, there were no Tesla Superchargers in Victoria.  However, there was a DC fast charging station in a parking garage at a shopping center I visited.  When I arrived at the shopping center, my car had about 25% charge in the battery pack.  I was parked there for about an hour and charged the car to almost 90% at a cost of about $8.00 USD.  In that situation, a low-powered destination charger would have been useless.

People who don’t drive EVs will probably view the new ChargePoint chargers in San Luis Obispo as something positive.  From my point of view, they are a missed opportunity.

 

Protests in France reinforce that most people just don’t get it.

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, was rebuked this week by thousands of protesters, who are angry with a new carbon tax on gasoline and diesel.  The Champs-Élysées looked a bit like a war zone yesterday after protesters set vehicles on fire.

President Macron justified the tax by saying that France needs to move to clean, renewable energy and not to rely on fossil fuels.  I think his justification is sound.  The problem is that most people don’t agree that the use of fossil fuels is bad.  Personally, I’m surrounded by people, who have no interest in abandoning their use of fossil fuels.  They see no need.  Putting gasoline in their cars is how they’ve always refueled and they are not interested in changing.

An analysis from President Trump’s own administration this week reported that climate change will continue to fuel weather extremes, which will result in bigger disasters from hurricanes, floods, wild fires and droughts.  Most people just don’t get it.  It is not logical that we now have wild fires that wipe out whole cities and that is the new norm because people want to continue to use fossil fuels instead of a clean alternative.

I started driving an electric vehicle in July of this year.  My electric car is mostly powered by electricity generated from solar panels on my house roof.  If I were not using solar power for my car, a month’s worth of electricity would cost me around $25 for my normal driving.  The only regular maintenance I have to do with the car is to rotate the tires every 6,000 miles.  There are no oil changes.  The car’s electric motor is more powerful than most internal combustion engine cars and the power is instantly there when I hit the accelerator.  Electric cars are so much more efficient than gasoline or diesel cars, and yet, most people prefer driving a car that runs on gasoline or diesel.  The choice of the majority has sentenced all of us to the climate future we face.

Oil interests will not go quietly

The relentless attacks on Tesla continued this morning with a report from the Swiss investment banking firm UBS claiming that the base model of the Model 3 will not be profitable.  Over a year ago, UBS did a tear down of a Chevrolet Bolt EV and, using that examination, determined before the Model 3 was even in production that the Model 3 would not be profitable.  UBS said they recently did a tear down of the Model 3 long range battery pack and they have concluded that, at best, the Model 3 will be a break-even product.

It’s interesting that 2 other research firms have dissected the Model 3 and concluded that the Model 3 would be very profitable to produce.  What is also interesting is that I don’t remember seeing any mainstream media coverage of the positive reports about expected Model 3 production costs.

The problem for the big oil interests is that the Tesla Model 3 is a game-changer.  I own a Model 3.  Long before I bought my Model 3, I’ve wanted to drive a car that does not use gasoline.  After driving the Model 3, it is beyond me why anyone would want to continue to drive an automobile that is not an electric vehicle.

The cost for electricity for the Model 3 is less than half what I was paying for gasoline for my Toyota Prius.  I have a charging station in my garage, so my car is charged mostly at home.  When I take long-distance trips, I use the Tesla Supercharger network, which is also less than half the cost of gasoline.  The Model 3 does not pollute the air, it is always powered by the Sun when I charge at home, and the car’s performance is well beyond anything I have ever driven.

After the UBS report, Telsa stock plunged by nearly 10%.  It apparently doesn’t matter that Tesla is selling thousands of Model 3’s a week.  The negative press aimed at Tesla is not surprising.  Tesla is threatening the century-old cash cow that is big oil.

This past week on Epic Homes, a TV show on the Discovery Channel, a $43.5 million home was showcased.  The owner was an oil trader.  Need I say more.  The oil interests will not go quietly.

Why Tesla is the only EV game in town

This past week, Tesla reported an increase in their production rate for the Model 3.  At about the same time, Goldman Sachs set a target price for Tesla stock at $195 per share, even though Tesla stock closed up at $300.34 per share on Friday.  The financial media keeps hitting Tesla with dire news reports, which causes people, who apparently can’t think for themselves, to panic and sell, before buying back again.

There are signs that Tesla is definitely making progress in their ramp-up of the production rate for the Model 3.  In the past week, there have been 3 rounds of invitations sent to reservation holders, something that hasn’t happened previously.  Normally, there is one batch of invitations sent during any week that they have been sent.  Tesla sent invitations on or about April 6th, April 10th and April 13th.  Some of the reservation holders that received invitations on April 13th had estimated configuration windows starting in May.  That’s good news because perhaps my window, set to start in June, may actually be in May.

While much of the financial world is trying to beat down Tesla, they should be doing the opposite.  Clearly, we cannot and should not be continuing to use 19th century technology to power our transportation in the 21st century.  It is unfathomable to me why there are people who still believe that it is fine to pollute the Earth’s atmosphere by driving gasoline and diesel vehicles when a clean alternative exists, today.  All car companies should be making the switch to electric-powered vehicles, but they are not.

Some car companies, like General Motors, sell electric-powered vehicles.  However, the only car company, selling cars today, that is producing only electric vehicles is Tesla.  General Motors makes the Bolt EV, but they make a lot more gasoline and diesel vehicles than electric.

Even if you choose to buy a car like the Bolt EV, you will have a difficult time using the car in the same way that a gasoline car is used, unless you never plan to drive farther than short commutes for work or shopping.  With the exception of the Tesla Supercharger network, there is almost no infrastructure for charging EV’s.

Part of my morning routine is to scan YouTube for videos that pertain to EV’s.  I watched a video this morning that was posted on the News Coulomb YouTube channel.  This YouTube channel is maintained by a guy, who owns a Chevrolet Bolt and he posts videos about his experiences with the car.  This video he posted in January really demonstrates why Tesla is the only game in town.

In the video, News Coulomb documented his charging session at an EVgo fast DC charger at the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks, California.  When he arrived at the charger, his battery charge level in his car was at 1%.  Clearly, he was in need of a charge.  There are 2 charging stations at this fast charger.  When he tried to use one of the chargers, the CCS connector, which the Bolt utilizes, was not working.  He went to the second charger and was able to start a charging session.  The charging station started supplying his Bolt with about 44 kW of power.  In about 30 minutes, his car charged to 37%, at which time the charger stopped charging.  Apparently, at least in January, if you charged at EVgo, it limited you to only 30 minutes of charging.  How would you like it if you went to a gasoline station, intending to fill up your 15-gallon tank, you start pumping, and when you reach 5 gallons, the pump shuts off and says you can’t buy any more gasoline?  In the video, News Coulomb reasoned that he didn’t need any more of a charge than that and he headed on his way.

Compare that charging session at the EVgo DC fast charger with a charging session at any one of the hundreds of Tesla Superchargers around the country.  The EVgo charger dispenses a maximum power level of 50 kW and limits the charge to 30 minutes.  Tesla Superchargers dispense a maximum power of 120 kW and you are not limited to how long you can charge.  Even the Tesla Urban Superchargers provide more power at 72 kW.  If you want a full charge, you let your car charge until it is full.

If you want to do the occasional road trip in your EV, having anything but a Tesla means road trips will be a serious challenge.  Until someone, other than Tesla, installs a usable EV charging infrastructure, Tesla really is the only EV game in town.  This is not a problem for me because I choose to drive 21st century technology and Tesla is my choice.

 

The Power of the Media

Most people I know are aware of Tesla because of my interest in the company and the fact that I am waiting for my turn to buy a Model 3.  Yesterday, I visited one of my friends, who needed help installing a streaming device on his TV.  His first comment to me reinforced what I already know about the news media.  People believe what they see or read in the news media, regardless of the truth.

My friend asked me what I was going to do for a new car now that Tesla is going bankrupt.  He was not joking, but was very serious.  He had read or seen one of the numerous stories about how Tesla is faltering and had not considered that, perhaps, what he was being told was not true.

What my friend didn’t see in the news is that the Tesla Model 3 was the best selling electric vehicle in the United States during the first quarter of this year.  The only news he saw was that a Tesla was involved in a fatal traffic accident here in California and that Tesla is going broke.

It’s unfortunate that someone lost their life in the accident while driving a Tesla Model X.  Why does the media focus on the fact that the vehicle was a Tesla?  This morning, I saw a news report of a 10-car traffic accident in my area where there were 2 fatalities.  There was no mention of what car makes were involved in this accident.

During the week leading up to the end of the last quarter, there were a number of news stories that attacked Tesla’s viability.  As a result, Tesla stock fell at one point by about 15%.  Tesla is making and selling cars that people are lined up to buy.  The news media doesn’t report this and people believe what the news media is telling them.

I have drastically changed how I keep up with what is happening in the world.  The news broadcasts on major networks are more show than news.  When the subject of Tesla is raised, I rely on these 2 facts.  Tesla is the only major car maker building only EV’s and they have a large number of people as owners and owners-in-waiting, who believe in what the company is doing.  Anything negative, designed to keep us driving internal combustion engines, is just static.