EV Drivers Admit It: Charging Can Be a ‘Logistical Nightmare’

Running low on gas? No worries. Find the nearest gas station. Pop the gas cap. Insert the nozzle into the gas tank opening, wait a minute or two and you’re good to go.

The process gets a bit more complicated for drivers of electric vehicles. First they must find a nearby charging station. If they’re lucky, they may be able to find a fast charger where the process might take 30 to 40 minutes. And that’s assuming there is at least one unoccupied parking spot.

The more likely scenario is they will find a Level 2 charging station which could take several hours.

Tony Quiroga, editor-in-chief of Car and Driver, tests EVs for a living. ABC News reports he “has been forced to wander the aisles of a Walmart in Burbank, California, while the EV he’s testing that day sits and charges. He’s become a familiar face at a Mexican restaurant in Mohave, California, where a Tesla charger is located. A coffee shop recently opened nearby that caters specifically to EV drivers.”

What a colossal waste of time.

Comparison tests can be a “logistical nightmare,” Quiroga said. “We plan meals around recharging the vehicles. We need to have the battery at 100% or close to it to test a vehicle’s performance. We have to time everything — it requires more work.”

Longer trips, obviously, pose a real challenge for EV owners. You might be fine if you drive your car less than 200 miles a day and charge it every night in your garage. But trips out of town require a certain amount of planning. One needs to know where the charging stations are located ahead of time. And one has to hope that the public charging stations are in good working condition.

“I imagine an ecosystem will be built around charging stations eventually,” he told ABC. “Longer trips bring up flaws with EVs. People are leery of taking them on long trips — that’s why older EVs don’t have 40,000 miles on them.”

Another frequent complaint is that cold weather substantially reduces the range of electrically powered cars. Their batteries slow down as the temperature drops.

Typically, Uber drivers in Switzerland are required to drive EVs. Gas powered cars are not permitted. But when the masters of the universe convened in Davos, Switzerland, in January for the annual World Economic Forum, VIP drivers were not allowed to drive EVs. The powers that be wanted to avoid the risk of cars breaking down in the freezing temperatures.

In the clip below, one VIP driver, who refused to show his face to the camera, explains to a Japanese journalist why he’s driving a gas-powered vehicle.

Quiroga told ABC that during a recent test-drive of BMW’s luxury i7 all-electric sedan, he turned on the heat and the range instantly fell from 240 to 220 miles.

They may not be a great idea in the hot weather either when the demand for air conditioning strains the power grid. Last September, EV owners in California were told not to charge their cars during hours of peak energy usage. Amusingly, that request came just days after the state’s regulators voted to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

If every Californian were to purchase an EV today, it would likely crash the state’s power grid.

Aside from the high price tags of EV and the inconveniences of charging them, owners are not really doing much to save the environment. They require electricity to run. Lots and lots of electricity, in fact.

And we have General Motors spokeswoman Kristin Zimmerman to thank for letting the cat out of the bag.

During the unveiling of a new Chevy Volt last year, Zimmerman said, “Everybody thought we killed the electric vehicle.” She playfully added, “No, we didn’t. It’s alive and well.”

The smile quickly left her face when a reporter asked what source of electricity was being used to charge the vehicle.

“It’s coming from the building,” she replied.

The reporter clarified, “What’s your mix of power?”

“Lansing feeds power to the building,” she answered, hoping that would end the questioning.

It didn’t.

Stopping herself before uttering the dirty word “coal,” Zimmerman said, “I betcha there’s a bit of co — they’re heavy on natural gas, aren’t they?”

Video of the exchange cuts to J. Peter Lark, an official with the Lansing Board of Power and Light, who set the reporter straight. He told him, “It would be charging off our grid, which is about 95 percent coal.”


All in all, I think I’ll just hang on to my gas powered vehicle, thank you very much.  EVs aren’t quite ready for primetime.

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