Buying any car requires due diligence. When making a vehicle purchase you need to think about how that vehicle fits your lifestyle, budget, and needs. There has been a lot of talk about the need for a public charging infrastructure before we can expect adoption by the early majority, a threshold many believe is needed if EVs are to become mainstream.
I have been very critical of how the public infrastructure is being deployed. But a recent article detailing charging rates at some public charging stations is bringing to light another concern, exorbitant rates to charge electric cars.
Public charging stations’ rates are determined not by the cost of electricity, but by the amount of time plugged in. Some rates are as high as $7 per 30 minute quick charge (440 volt), which at current standards would get you approximately 80 miles of range.
At current gas prices, this is the equivalent of $3.50 a gallon for a car getting 40 MPG. While still better than most gas cars today, it amounts to price gouging for EV owners and is not representative of what EV owners pay for “fuel” when charging at home.
For about $2 dollars in electricity costs, EV owners in Virginia, where I live, can get 80 miles of range, making it a $5 dollar premium just to visit these charging stations.
The real problem though is not so much the price to charge, but more so the perception that’s given; one of unstable pricing and a loss of control on how the pricing structure will unfold. In addition, exorbitant charging rates erode some of the financial benefits of EV ownership, one of the biggest incentives for potential EV buyers.
If pricing is such that EV drivers stay away from public charging, you may likely see a scenario where businesses cease to install charging units. Without the continued expansion of chargers, new potential buyers (the early majority) will be less inclined to buy electric cars. The result could very likely be EVs never catching on with the buying public. That’s why it is crucial we get public charging right the first time.
We can make sure public charging is done right the first time by understanding under what circumstances EV drivers place value on public charging.
A great place to start would be…
EV owners would like to take regional trips, + 60 miles each way. With a range of 100 miles, that is not currently possible with the majority of EVs. So, places that are 60 plus miles from a concentration of EV owners would be optimal. Long, substantial charging is best, so B&Bs and hotels in destination areas would make a lot of sense.
We are not going to plug into Walgreens for 15 minutes while shopping.
Finally, when deciding what to charge people for use of a charging station, make the rate structure something that is fair while making a profit. It costs me less than $3 dollars to get 100 miles of range when charging at home, so don’t charge me 3 times that when I am out. Yes I will pay for convenience, but I will not pay 3 times what I pay at home.