Life on the edge of the electric car ecosystem A desperate drive …

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Life on the edge of the electric car A desperate drive from to charge

If you just bought an car, you may be loath to admit it, but true: Although you’re no a servant to Big Oil, you’ve up for another problem entirely—the need to charge your

Sure, if you can design a driving around reliable charging you may be able to get around your even commute to work—with disruption. But if your local infrastructure doesn’t play in favor, you’ll begin to trapped within a gated Inside lies security. lies risk.

This is on the fragmented edge of the electric-car

I’ve lived on that having spent the past few with two all-electric cars and one hybrid. Lacking a charging at home or the workplace, I had two choices: one of the loaner cars into my electrical outlet overnight, or publicly available charging as I tested the fleet vehicles the San Francisco Bay Area.

I quickly I was a have-not in this developing week was National Plug In but I wasn’t celebrating any time I the prospect of running out of battery on a dark road. More are vital to attracting more to the electric-car ecosystem.

Automakers and and private entities continue to in charging stations, but the economics are

The basics of the electric-car lifestyle

For of you new to electric cars, the charging works like this: You can your car into a standard, AC outlet at home and charge batteries from low to full in 10 to 12 This is called a Level 1 You can install a Level 2 charging which uses a 240V and generally takes 5 or more to charge a battery. Level 2 is also the common kind of charging installed at workplaces and shopping

The highest-end charging option—which is pretty rare—is a Quick or DC Fast station. which can a battery to full in 20 minutes to 1

Most charging stations are by a network company, which requires payment for using the (unless it’s a subsidized The easiest way to pay is to join the network, so you can a membership card at the station or use an If you don’t belong to the network, you be able to pay either by phone or

Flouting charging-station etiquette

For my first experience charging an car, I set out with a friend in the RAV4 EV to visit the town of Los California, where public lots have a handful of stations.

What’s wrong this picture? A completely Subaru Legacy sedan at this charging station. The

We had to wander around the large lot to the station. The available spot had a completely unpluggable Subaru The nerve!

Charging-station etiquette is around who gets to use the spaces and for how Drivers leave notes, “shame” photos on user or unilaterally unplug a car so that can charge.

“In your situation, probably wasn’t enforcement,” Mike Tinskey, global of vehicle electrification and infrastructure for in a conversation with TechHive a few after my encounter. “Not is it required to have very rules and have it consistent the signage, but it would be helpful to reservations.”

My Toyota RAV4 EV, charging. up the charge using a toll-free was easy, but when the cable to reach my charge port, I had to the car around—during which time my authorization lapsed, and I had to call

We left the Subaru in a huff and another station, where I a toll-free number to pay (a flat fee of per hour). The call was easy. I up and prepared to plug in my car, the cable didn’t reach.

I had to my car around. By the time I did that, the authorization had lapsed, and I had to make call.

After that I joined the Chargepoint  station and received a payment card to use at any of the stations. I had a completely different car Nissan Leaf), and I used the app to show me available stations my route. But the app often led me to stations on property, where I’d be trespassing if I to charge. (The company acknowledge that few private are appropriately designated as such in its And once again, I found a that looked free, that a non-plug-in car was squatting in the spot.

I ended up driving with a nervous eye on my rapidly range. My husband called me at one and asked if I needed to be towed.

A week’s time with a Fusion Energi plug-in proved the least stressful. car’s drivetrain mostly on gasoline, but it uses batteries for driving, and the gas engine can recharge the Even if I couldn’t find a station, I knew I could back on gas.

Driving the Fusion Energi was the most plug-in experience I had, I had the option of getting gas.

In San public stations abound they’re managed by parking where you have to pay a high fee to and likely also a fee for electricity. work hours, most of stations are occupied by commuters, so I out on many stations because I park soon enough. A of other stations can be found at stores in the city, such as a Walgreens pharmacy I visited, but you use the station unless you’re there.

The electric-car infrastructure has mercy for people living on its Forrest North, chief officer of Recargo (a software and company focused on electric told TechHive recently, wouldn’t get an electric car if you really to rely on the public infrastructure.” In his conversation with TechHive, Tinskey said, “Most will have a charge at their home and workplace. The charge station will that.”

“I don’t take the anywhere that requires a charge, just out and back home.”

The experiences of Nissan owners in the San Francisco Bay Area my own. Tim Jacobsen, for instance, has access: “I can charge for free at my via Chargepoint,” he says. “At home, I use the trickle charger [for a AC outlet] that my Leaf with, or I can plug into my dryer outlet for faster

But driving beyond known is another matter: “The adjustments [come with] planning when driving distances across the bay,” Jacobsen. He belongs to two charging-station and Blink—so he can replenish his battery on trips. “It’s almost to do without them.”

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Russ a retiree, drives around in his Leaf and charges it on a standard “At night when I take out the I plug in the car,” he says. experiments with longer have not been so simple: made a few long trips to see how quick charging enabled extension,” says Atkinson, the results were discouraging due to QC not working or [being] out of the way.” couldn’t get far—at least, not quickly. “It took me six hours to get to Rosa from Los Altos So now I don’t take the Leaf that requires a public just out and back from

“I was surprised by the amount of I had to make,” says Leaf Mustafa Kamal. “The distance on the car was always an issue, was a constant need to keep the car at all times.” Kamal loved his environmental creds, but the inconveniences nonetheless. “I could not heat up the car driving in cold months the stupid heater took so power.”

The DC Fast stations could solve everything

3 charging stations could many of these stories for the That’s why Tesla is building its infrastructure of these puppies. about QC stations’s availability and come up frequently on the SF Bay Area Leaf Owners Facebook with stories of drivers impatiently for their turn to groaning when a station is

I tried to use a DC Fast station at a mall, but a Prius was squatting in the When it finally left, I couldn’t charge, because the was out of my network, and no one answered the toll-free posted on the station.

This is the DC station I tried—and failed—to use at a mall.

Not all infrastructure players DC Fast stations as much as the do. In a recent interview with Richard Lowenthal, cofounder and technical officer of the Chargepoint network, readily conceded DC Fast is popular. His company is interested in building out Level 2 however, because they more money for the retail that host them.

In the people who run shopping malls, theaters, and drugstores want you to as you charge—and Level 3 chargers work too quickly.

“EV [electric drivers stay in stores times longer than a person,” Lowenthal said. “So hang around and maybe buy a or groceries.”

Faster, electric charge, charge, charge!

hardly news that behavior can be manipulated for profit. In the of electric-car charging, however, the buildout of DC Fast stations slow the adoption of these news for any station on any network. is important, particularly at this when EVs are a new technology,” says Pyper, a reporter for ClimateWire. need to know they can get point A to point B, even if charge primarily at home.”

The business model going is changing, too, as the public that fueled early dries up. “Once the government goes away, work to be tightened,” says Alastair of IHS. Hayfield notes a charging station costs $20,000 just for hardware, and maintenance. “A local authority may not a fund to cover that, a retail outlet may not have the That leaves companies as Tesla and Nissan to invest on of their electric-car customers, or like Chargepoint (which is from public to private to build for-profit networks.

cars have a small but user base, and the technology is changing how we drive. But neither the nor the cars themselves can get far without infrastructure investment. Even if an electric-car owner with access to charging opportunities, in the end not driving the car wherever you want, as you can a traditional, gas-powered vehicle.

the car that’s driving you, charge to charge.

Melissa Senior Editor, TechHive

Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars


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