Sunday, April 21, 2013

EV Range Anxiety; Addressing the "5%" And User Supported Fast Charging

To spur 2012 LEAF sales some dealers were offering the "One to One" program which allowed a number of free car rentals for any LEAFer who might need to take an out of town trip. This was done to remove the anxiety concerning that annual trip to Grandma's house in a neighboring state.

Reaction to the program was excellent but it suffered because it was only offered at the dealer level and applied inconsistently which only caused confusion among the LEAF constituency.  Nissan is investigating a way to offer this program at the Corporate level to equalize the benefit across the country and eliminate the confusion. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Until then another way of addressing the 5% is the availability of quick charging. WA has once again committed to putting money towards installing more quick charge stations which allows more miles to be EV instead of oil-based.  But with an estimated 2500+ EVs now tooling the Puget Sound region the 20 some stations will be very hard pressed to service the growing demand to leave the gasser at home.

So the state is contributing, (West Coast Green Highway Project) the Feds are contributing, (EV Highway Project)  and Nissan is contributing. ( Planned 500 Quick Charge Stations installed at Dealerships Nationwide) Now, I am kinda feeling left out here.

I want to contribute.  Ok, so I will be paying an additional $100 for my plate renewal but that is supposed to replace lost gas tax revenue so not really adding anything to the mix here. Now I know what you are saying..."Hey! is this the same cheapskate Dave who will drive 5 miles out of his way just to get free juice?"

Ya, I am the same cheapskate Dave so you know I have an agenda.  Since April 1st,  I have exceeded 100 miles in a day 6 times. 5 in the LEAF and unfortunately once in the Yaris. Of the 6 days, the Yaris was the shortest at 105 miles. I also had days of 140 and 142 miles in the LEAF! but the Yaris day was done simply because there was not a convenient charging option for me and that really really really SUCKS!!

So, ya I have an agenda. If I can do 142 miles in a LEAF, there is no reason why I should have to settle for a measly 105 miles in a gasser!  But the rollout of DCFCs is slow.  Too slow and its due to too many regulations, not enough money and not enough push at the Capital.  We can change that!

Now a privately funded DCFC network would be nice but there is a major logistical hurdle...actually a lot of them!  But the interest is there. Tony in San Diego, a major EV owner/advocate actually attempted to build a private network and did manage to collect over $20,000 towards that end. Now, the venture failed but only due to possible liability and maintenance issues. But the money he raised definitely shows that the interest is there!

But there is still the legal ramifications but what about a state sponsored, partially funded public program?  Do it like the State Parks System, The Ferries or Toll Bridges?

All the above mentioned programs are not fully supported by fees and tolls but because they provide a vital roll to the WA's economy, the State does provide financial support and I think a charging network could work the same way.

What I envision is option to pay an annual fee of say $250 that allows access to state fleet charging stations. A modest fee would be required for use but the annual fee would be high enough to prevent overcrowding of the stations and as the network grows more users could be added.  Further down the road when all the WCGH stations become pay models there could be tiered subscriptions like $100 for the WCGH stations and $250 for all the stations and so on.

Now this model wont pay for itself either but the conversion of gas-powered miles to electric is a HUGE HUGE HUGE benefit to a state that does not produce a single drop of oil but has more electricity than it can use despite hosting the most power hungry industries in the World.

We have Aluminum refineries and Internet Server Farms up the Wazoo (was gonna say "Ying Yang" but decided to keep it local!) both well known as "champion juice suckers"  and we still have a ton of electricity leftover that we sell to states like CA at bargain basement prices.  By better utilizing our natural resources, we benefit the state as a whole making EV support a worthy investment for the State.

Now, I need feedback here. Would a program like this interest you as an EV driver? If so, what is a reasonable yearly fee for access?  If not, why not?  If you think the existing "planned" quick charge network is ok, say so. Or if you are in the camp that thinks quick charge is as overrated as it is overpriced!

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