Charging that Electric Car Could Cost More Than a Tank of Gas CBS News

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Charging that Electric Car Cost More Than a of Gas

Last Updated Aug 5, 2011 AM EDT

It made a big splash when announced last month it was electric car charging stations at 800 nationwide. But the headlines left out one detail — this is a charging business, and one that get very expensive for drivers. In they could be paying to charge their new Volt if they filled up a Ford

Doing the Math

EV vehicles are $32,000 and up for a compact battery car would sell for half in gas form. Blame their battery packs. But the assumption has been that owners pay down the extra cost time through cheaper — everybody cited two to cents for an electric mile, maybe 12 to 15 cents for gas.

But the prices cited by Walgreens partners, which are putting in the chargers at their own expense, are higher than that. Tim . the president and co-founder of 350Green . me he expects to charge drive-up up to $4 for a 90-minute charging session in a parking lot. Michael . who heads the Car Charging Group and is a Walgreens partner, agrees the $3 to $4 session pricing.

It’s around there, he told me.

the problem: You can’t fully an EV from a 240-volt charger in 90 So, consumers who own cars like the Leaf or Chevrolet Volt be buying only about 20 of range. and that means miles — likely expensive than the gasoline

A Flawed Pricing Model

The idea of charging by the hour make much sense, electric cars charge at rates. A Tesla Roadster, for has a huge 16.8 kilowatt and a 2011 Nissan Leaf 3.3 kilowatts (it goes to 6.6 in 2013). The takes in far more electricity the course of the 90 minutes than the does.

The way to envision it is to imagine for gas by the minute, but with cars pump at different flow

The charging-by-the-hour model is necessary current rules because, due to regulations in most states, utilities themselves can charge for by the kilowatt-hour. California has exempted EVs those rules, but other have yet to act.

Farkas that the per-hour pricing is deeply flawed. His analogy:

you buy a can of Coke from a machine, you that it costs more the same can from a supermarket. But at you know you’re getting a can of with a finite amount of in it. Here, people are buying amounts of electricity for their

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Charging by the kilowatt hour is the way to do it. An Alternative—and Way Cheaper—Model

Farkas said the Car Charging plans to soon unveil a model in the approximately 22 states have deregulated electricity. that plan, you could pay a monthly rate for unlimited both at home and from chargers the company installed. a kilowatt-hour model, since the fee would be based on local rates.

NRG Energy . the third partner, has already unveiled a model for consumers in Texas.

says that 350Green wants to use a monthly subscription charging perhaps $70 to $80 per month. The model would soon more cost-effective than for public charging a la carte, and it also probably lead to use of public chargers like at Walgreens. Customers on subscription have every reason not to maximize use of their EVs, but to plug in and top off their cars quick shopping stops.

Even better, the subscription would be much cheaper filling up with gas. who commute 50 miles daily very conservatively, $40 to $50 a week on The subscription gives you unlimited opportunities, at home, at the big-box at work, and for less than $20 per

Perversely, subscriptions also away the financial incentive to at night when demand is so some kind of mechanism need to be in place to ensure happens.

Still, aside NRG Energy, the subscription plans are And many drive-in customers at and elsewhere will swipe credit cards and pay $4 for 90 minutes. going to wonder where the went, but that’s the status quo in the world.

© 2011 CBS Interactive Inc. All Reserved.

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