There's been a lot of discussion in smart grid/plug-in vehicle circles about the benefits of scheduled nighttime recharging. It makes a lot of sense, after all, to be able to tell your new electric vehicle (EV) to only suck up juice when the nightly electricity rates have gone down and you can recharge for pennies per mile. Recently, though, we wondered if there isn't a better way to take advantage of nighttime electricity rates and help reduce range anxiety, which, after all, is real and might be a dealbreaker for people considering an EV.
Until we see thousands of super-quick chargers or ubiquitous battery swap stations, we think we have a simple idea that would make home charging and EVs appeal to many, many people, especially those who, for example, care for sick family members or have a pregnant wife: a safety range. Here's how it would work.

Instead of just telling the system to fill up the car starting at 11 p.m. (or whenever rates go down), drivers would be able to set a minimum range, most likely however far it is to the nearest hospital or police station or wherever, plus five or ten miles. Then, when you get home after work, you plug in the car and it checks to make sure the battery pack has enough power to go that minimum distance. If not, it fills up to that range and then waits until night time to fully recharge. If the pack is already full, the car waits until the cheap electrons start to flow to power up. It's the best of both worlds.

Of course, sometimes, it's still better to call the ambulance in an emergency. In situations where the EV is a family's second vehicle – or when a car sharing vehicle is readily available – this sort of capability wouldn't be necessary. Still, it seems easy enough to implement and we'd like to hear that the people currently working on the next-gen recharging systems that a lot of people will be relying on (sooner rather than later) are considering something like this. Does it make sense to you?

[Image: laffy4k - C.C. License 2.0]


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