The first question I get when people find out we only drive Electric Vehicles is "What's the Range?" I guess I can kind of understand that newbies might wonder about range. Many owners of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE cars) are afraid they'll 'run out of gas' in an EV. So range must be the big issue, right?
After all, most ICE cars can go 400 miles; some might go 500 miles. And if you can't go that far in an EV, it's just not up to par, right?
Oddly, it's not just non-EV owners who express this concern. At every charging station, I invariably get the same question: "How much range do you get?" And although I still answer, I now follow up with the statement that "Range is not that important!"
Even confirmed EVers look at me sideways until I explain.
The big issue for EVs is not range. It's charging speed.
You can now drive 3 hours or more at highway speed in most modern EVs. Me, even in my old ICE cars, I needed to stop every two to three hours. Then it was food and to stretch my legs. For night drives, it was to stay awake.
And how often do we take long trips? A few times a year? Most of us have commutes of less than 100 miles roundtrip - well within the range of every modern EV.
For us, greater range just means we don't have to charge as often - once every week or ten days instead of every four or five days. And hey, if you own or rent a house, you can just plug in at home.
No, we really don't need an EV with 400 or 500 miles of range. But there are some valid concerns about EVs.
Once again, for a typical commute, charging speed isn't much of an issue. You can charge at home or at the office and you probably don't need to charge more than once or twice a week, even with a longer commute.
But on a road trip, you really don't want to sit around waiting for your car to charge. When we took our Chevy Bolt to Oregon for the eclipse several years ago, we had to wait an hour or more at each charging stop, adding at least two hours to our ICE car trip times.
Now, in our Audi etron (we use the Bolt for trips within a hundred miles or so), we can drive three hours then charge for twenty minutes, then repeat. We compared a recent trip to Oregon in our Audi etron to trips we did in our Audi Allroad, and with a 20-minute stop every three hours for bio breaks and food, the total travel time was identical. As of today, the etron is the fastest charging EV on the market.
But Teslas, Porsches, the Ioniq-5, and others charge faster, right?
Actually, no. EV buyer beware! Newer EVs claim very fast charging with high kilowatt charging rates - 250 kW? That must charge faster than an Audi that only charges at 150 kW, right?
The fact is that like your cellphone, EV charging tends to slow as the battery fills. Those EVs that charge at 250 kW only do so up to 40 to 60 percent. Then they taper off dramatically.
So, if you're looking for fast charging, you need to look at the charging curves which show the rate of charge as the battery fills. I like to check out charging curves at the Electric Vehical Knowledge Exchange Click on a particular model and the look at its average charging times and charging curves to see how fast a give EV will charge.
Are there enough charging stations?
We've been doing long trips in EVs for several years. Charging infrastructure has dramatically improved, particularly on major highways and recently, secondary routes. The VW dieselgate settlement has put fast chargers along most of these routes.
Years ago, we'd charge three or four times on a long trip and would never see another EV charging. That has changed. A few days ago (a Sunday) on our way to Oregon, we encountered an Ioniq-5, a Mustang Mach-E, a VW ID-4, and a Volvo XC40 Recharge at a popular Electrify America station. Like us, the Ioniq-5 was there for about 20 minutes. We spoke with the drivers of the Mustang and the ID-4, and they had been charging for a while and expected they needed another 30 minutes to continue.
I note that on our return trip, we were the only EV charging. So for now, at least on the routes we're travelling, we're not yet seeing congestion at charging stations. But that will likely change.
If EVs had faster charging rates, their time charging would be reduced enough to minimize any waiting for other EVs. So, as you look at purchasing EVs, and as you talk to manufacturers and on message boards, please push the importance of charging speed over range - and not just charging rate - TOTAL CHARGING TIME. This will not only improve our long distance driving times, it will help avoid congestion at charging stations.
It's not about range. It's about total charging time!
Hope you find this helpful.
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