Leading the charge for EVs
Letters to the Editor, September 12, 2012
It was great to see the Aug. 24 article on charging EVs (“Bases considering charging points for electric vehicles,” U.S. Weekly edition; “DOD mulls charging points for electric cars,” Aug. 17, Pacific editions). But the article also demonstrates how misinformed everyone is in their century-old experience with the gas tank and gas station. A battery is not a tank. Gas cars drive-to-empty and fill-to-full at widely distributed public gas stations.
However, battery-powered EVs are simply plugged in to standard 120-volt outlets whenever parked and always begin most trips already full and with no range anxiety and no time-to-charge concerns. The daily investment in refueling an EV at home or work is a total of 10 seconds for unplugging and plugging in while parking.
Time to charge, and range anxiety, vanish to the EV owner when he plugs in to standard 120v outlets at home and at work.
What we, the service men and women and civilian commuters in the Department of Defense (80 percent of the total DOD car/truck energy use), need is a 120v outlet and a procedure to pay the $10 to $20 a month for a “charging pass” to plug in. We plug in on arrival, and unplug when we leave. Yet installing very expensive and fast EV chargers on base makes no sense for the daily commuter. DOD cannot afford the lost manpower for EV owners to have to go move their cars every hour to share a fast charger that fully charges the average commuter in under an hour. Instead, let us pay in-to-plug in to 120v while at work.
Further, the impact of an EV plugging in to a 120v outlet is no more than a coffee pot. However, an EV plugged into a $5,000 public charger can draw as much power as an entire house and has very significant impact on a base’s electricity distribution system and its utilities. All of these infrastructure issues vanish if we simply use existing or a few more added 120v outlets.
Thinking that EVs are a general replacement for a gas car but with a smaller tank, less range and dependency on even fewer public charging stations is simply dead wrong legacy-gas-tank thinking and undermines the future value of the EV. The promise of the EV is never having to go anywhere to refuel again and to use cheap, USA-generated energy.
Thinking an EV owner is going to go to a public charging station and wait for an hour and pay as much as four to six times the normal cost of electricity is like thinking that gas drivers will drive around looking for $20-per-gallon gas. It won’t happen in the long run.
A typical commuter EV is parked for more than 21 hours a day, mostly in two places: home and work. That is plenty of time on 120v to maintain even the 100-mile Nissan Leaf fully charged at the start of every trip, every day.