• Aug 6, 2010
Earlier this week, automotive execs came together to discuss the future of the industry at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI. As Green Car Advisor reports, one of the sessions at the seminar was titled "Full-scale Deployment: Making the Business Case." This particular session focused on discussing the need for widespread deployment of public charging stations. However, the discussion quickly turned around as many panelists argued that there's simply no need for a public charging infrastructure in the U.S.
The panelists suggested that most U.S. electric car buyers will find home charging more than sufficient to meet their needs. Robert Bienenfeld, Honda's senior manager of energy and strategy, suggests that although a widespread charging infrastructure may be required in order to convince buyers to adopt the new technology, he admits that "very little charging is needed in the public sector." Bienenfeld adds that the many of the chargers that will be installed in the coming years will become what he calls "stranded assets." This loosely translates to unused pieces of equipment that cost someone a lot of money.

The panelists also noted that advancements in battery technology will continue to extend the range of EVs, thus negating the need for public chargers for most drivers. In addition, range anxiety is now thought to be less of a concern as consumers gradually gain an understanding of electric vehicles. While we certainly don't have a problem with public chargers popping up everywhere, we feel obliged to ask you: is there really a need?

[Source: Green Car Advisor]


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  • 36 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      EV adoption by the mainstream will hinge on the idea that you aren't restricted to a 100-200 mile radius. That's the problem with the cars right now, and price. Then it'll be a range to price ratio problem.. range will honestly be a problem for some time to come as even if a 300 mile battery came out mass produced, the car would still be really expensive for some time.

      Sounds like some heel dragging to me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would not use public charging stations when/if I by an EV.
      - How much are these charging stations going to cost compared to charging at home? I'm going to charge at home during off-peak hours when electricity is cheapest.
      - What if all the charging spots are taken when I get to the mall/restaurant/theater? I have a movie or dinner date to catch, I'm not going to drive to another location.
      - What if someone unplugs my car while charging? When I go out to my car, I want to go home, I'm not going to sit around for another hour while I finish charging my car.
      Therefore, I would only charge at home, and only use the car for trips within the battery's round-trip range. If that means I need a gasoline car for occasional use, that's fine, because I already have two cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Charging station cost depends on whether they're level 2 (hours to recharge) or level 3 (~30 minutes to recharge). Roughly, weatherproof level 2 is as low as $2000 if there's no network smarts or payment system; a level 3 "pump" is $25,000+.

        The electricity cost of low-current Level 2 is low enough to give away, either as part of parking fees or as an incentive to hang out at the restaurant/mall/office. Even at 20 cents/kWh, 6 hours of 3 kW recharging costs just $3.60. Most EV owners will have the same charging tech at home and will be resistant to paying more. Level 3 is very different; how valuable is it to be on your way in 30 minutes instead of waiting 6 hours?

        Coulomb Technologies hopes all public charging stations participate in its network, http://www.mychargepoint.net/ , so you'll know whether one is in use. They'll also handle billing for charging.

        If someone unplugs your car while it's charging, your car could/should alert your phone.

        Yes, an EV works great as a second car you cheaply refuel at home if your regular commute is in-range. Level 2 chargers at destinations effectively doubles the EV's commuting range, making an EV practical for more people. And level 3 charging stations make long highway trips possible. Both are worthwhile, expect to see MASSIVE LOBBYING from car companies for one, the other, or neither, depending on what the company's EV strategy is.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still don't get EV. Most city (think most of the east coast city in the US) in the world still relies on coal or some form of polluting fossil fuel to generate electricity. so in terms of being environmental friendly. It really isn't technically true since your are still producing pollution just not in the car and the pollution is just move far far away where the average person would not see since your electricity still comes from it to charge your EV.

      I really wish the figure a way to produce and hydrogen without the high amount of energy to break down water. if they can figure this out then EV would make even less sense.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Even if coal is used, multiple studies have shown that pollution still goes down for electric vehicles. However, coal is less than half of US electricity production and in places like the west coast, very little coal is being used to generate electricity. An electric vehicle is the only practical way to run a vehicle off of energy generated from solar, hydro, wind, nuclear... If you live in rural Ohio, the story is a little different (but few people will be early EV adopters there).

        In terms of hydrogen- Yes, it would be great if we could overcome the law of conservation of energy. However, when you start with the same beginning and end product, you can't get any more energy out of it than what you put into it, but will have losses along the way. Law of conservation of energy wins. As an energy storage medium, batteries are dramatically better than what the most optimistic hydrogen researcher can hope for (Nissan claims 95% efficient).

        Basically, electric is the best realistic alternative to make a significant dent in CO2 and pollution.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I understand how EV will help reduce pollution but i think there could be a better solution. I know I would giving EV a try but it just feel like a short term solution.

        I know moving away from oil is good but i fear what everyone on the planet will fight over for next will be more scary.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mike,
        Just out of curiosity, do your comments about EVs and how much they help to reduce pollution come because you have not seen analysis that show this, or do you not believe/agree with them?

        I'm not criticizing you're statements at all, I'm simply trying to see where they come from.

        I started off not really having any idea myself a few years ago and just saw it as an interesting question people were arguing about. I've read a great deal and gone over every study on the subject I can find, looked at the assumptions they made and how it affects the conclusions they draw.

        Now I have no doubt that EVs are a big advantage in eliminating pollution and clearly they are a HUGE advantage in getting our economy off of foreign oil which helps our economy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Don't feel bad, Mike. It's easy to believe the nonsense that the pro-oil groups put out. They keep pumping out one lie after another to keep us addicted to their product.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is an improved charging infrastructure absolutely necessary for EVs? No.

      Is an improved charging infrastructure very desirable for EVs? YES! VERY MUCH SO!

      An improved infrastructure (more charge points) provides the following benefits:
      1) An improved ability to do 'opportunity charging' when ever you stop. This improves your daily range and will reduce the gas usage in PHEVs.
      2) It provides a psychological security factor for people wary about EVs.
      3) It allows NEVs to become more useful.
      4) It allows batteries to be smaller (=cheaper) since people will be able to charge at their destinations.

      If there were charge points everywhere then we could get away with pure EVs that have a 40 mile range. That would handle typical daily driving. A 40-mile pure EV could be pretty cheap.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm 100% with spec on this one. You can clearly release EVs without an infrastructure; my wife and I have done just fine with ours.

        But if you want to sell a lot of them, you need charging stations around just to reassure people used to gas that are unfamiliar with starting with a full charge every day. (The interesting thing about the Japanese study that Dave R mentioned is that while EV use went way up after fast chargers were installed, the chargers were almost never used!)

        Of course, once they have EVs, they will do the vast majority of their charging at home. Sure, there will be a few with low-range EVs (or very long commutes) that charge at work. And there will be the occassional bump charge while shopping on a day with lots and lots of errands. But most the of L2's scattered around probably won't see a ton of use. Some in the industry joke about putting in cardboard boxes labeled as charging stations.

        Now, L3's along the highway...those will get used. Again, maybe not a lot (you sure don't need a lot of them), but they will really be needed when they are. Some of the DOE efforts to blanket a few test metro areas with L2 would be better off putting fewer L3s on major roads out of the city, I think.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, this is another spoiler attempt.
        Check out who is the man saying they are not needed - the Honda guy, the company that is not doing much of anything.
      • 4 Years Ago
      While the majority of charging will occurat home, public fast charging infrastructure will eliminate the need for ICE for the vast majority of people:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/automobiles/08CHARGE.html?src=me&ref=automobiles

      A relatively small investment (much smaller than current oil or ethanol subsidies) would cover almost all public charging needs (as most charging is private) and would help enable mass electrification of the automobile.

      If I were hearing questions of too much public charging comming from companies that actually make pure mass-market EV's, I might give it a little consideration.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Stranded asset?
      That would be your EV if you ran out of a charge and had nothing to charge it with.
        • 4 Years Ago
        lol, fitting term isn't it
      • 4 Years Ago
      Possible alternatives =solar parking canopy?

      http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/11-charging-stations-designed-to-refuel-evs-with-renewable-energy/

      New KB Home using lithium battery back up

      http://sunpluggers.com/news/solar-home-of-future-makes-debut-in-california-0707


      1 Parking spot = 1 year of drive time

      http://us.sanyo.com/Environmental-Solutions/Clean-Energy-Parking-Solutions

      Same type of robotics used for stacking can be used for swapping into vehicles. Note: the robotics can also be solar powered.

      http://www.forbes.com/2009/05/27/battery-enerdel-manufacturing-business-lithium.html

      Feds forcing utilities to accept feed in Tariffs for consumers?

      http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/news/feed-in-tariffs-taking-net-metering-to-the-next-level/
      • 4 Years Ago
      I charge my Vectrix at public charging stations about once/month. It's nice to know they're there when you need them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The first generation of early adopters(including me hopefully) will deal with a lack of charging infrastructure and take mostly local trips and charge at home 99% of the time.

      The farthest that I might drive a bev is my wifes parents house(70 miles). We often stay overnight so recharging on 110v is possible.

      2nd generation buyers are going to want some chargers so that longer daytrips become possible. By that time it should be profitable for well placed chargers to make a little money as they could charge gasoline prices for bulk rate electricity. Quick charging to 80% capacity in 30 minutes would allow a bev to have a much greater usable range.

      I would like to see an enterprising company build small range extending trailers that could be rented from gas stations along the freeway(ala uhaul) that could allow extended range travel when necessary. Rented trailers would be used frequently(no old gas) and see high miles which would allow them to be depreciated and replaced with new technology(fuel cells, super-capacitors, etc) more frequently than cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Going with your trailer idea - instead of strapping a generator to it, strap on more batteries that will get you another 100 miles range. Pick up the trailer when your main pack runs low and while you hook the trailer up (shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes) also plug your main pack in for some topping off.

        A partial quick charge in 10 minutes and the trailer can get you another 150 miles range.

        Drain the trailer pack and swap it out for a fresh one at the next stop and top off your main battery a bit more again. When your trip is complete, drop off the trailer and you're done.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hey, there's a good idea I hadn't heard before! I think that would be much more palatable than swapping out your own battery pack.
      • 4 Years Ago
      These charging stations are for an 'as needed' basis. Charging at home will be be much less expensive. The prices to charge on one of these is quadruple the price of a home charge. Thus matching what you would pay for using petrol in an ICE engine vehicle. These guys are the Saudi's of EV's
        • 4 Years Ago
        Frankly, I have no problem with paying "gasoline" prices for electricity if I'm out on a trip and need the electricity to get where I want to go.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That is true, if you see EVs as only being a small percentage of the car market.

      I am glad these geniuses did not decide on rest stops.
      • 4 Years Ago


      Possible alternatives =solar parking canopy?

      http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/11-charging-stations-designed-to-refuel-evs-with-renewable-energy/

      New KB Home using lithium battery back up

      http://sunpluggers.com/news/solar-home-of-future-makes-debut-in-california-0707


      1 Parking spot = 1 year of drive time

      http://us.sanyo.com/Environmental-Solutions/Clean-Energy-Parking-Solutions

      Same type of robotics used for stacking can be used for swapping into vehicles. Note: the robotics can also be solar powered.

      http://www.forbes.com/2009/05/27/battery-enerdel-manufacturing-business-lithium.html

      Excess power from these units needs to be sold back to utilities...

      Feds forcing utilities to accept feed in Tariffs for consumers?

      http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/news/feed-in-tariffs-taking-net-metering-to-the-next-level/
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