Recharging the vehicle’s battery pack is not as straightforward as you might think
We refuel an ICE vehicle by filling the gas tank. As an EV’s battery replaces the gas tank, we should consider charging as “EV Refueling.”
You can refuel your EV at home. However, installing a home charger can be challenging in older neighbourhoods where homes have 100-amp panels, and the street was originally wired for 100-amp houses. A Level 2 charger that will adequately refuel a very low battery overnight, requires a minimum of a 30-amp breaker to deliver a viable charging rate.
Adding this to a 100-amp panel creates challenges for other appliances or equipment using high amperage, such as electric clothes dryers and air conditioners, etc. There could also be issues with the transformer serving your street. A few EVs charging at the same time may blow the transformer that was only sized for 100-amp houses.
Many homes in Toronto and other municipalities utilize street parking. How will you refuel your EV at home if it is parked on the street?
You can refuel your EV at a public charging station. Challenges? Locate one that is convenient, hope a charger is available, plug in for 10 minutes or more to obtain any meaningful range increase. This scenario assumes the charger is working. A recent JD Power survey showed the main reason people were unable to charge their EV at a public charging station was faulty equipment (72%).
You can refuel your EV at work, if your employer has installed chargers, but you could also experience some of the challenges of public charging stations. Additionally, what will you do if your job keeps you on the road all day?
Less time, greater range
With an ICE vehicle, you can visit a convenient gas station and quickly refuel. I recently refueled a mid-size German SUV from just below a quarter tank. From engine off to engine on, with a credit card payment at the pump, it took just four minutes to pump 55 litres of gas into the tank. This gave me a range increase of over 500 kms, for a total full tank range of 660 kms. Compare this with Level 3 Fast Chargers giving 100 kms of range in 10 minutes.
Have you ever forgot to plug in your cell phone to charge overnight? Will you forget to plug in your EV one night?
What if you run out of fuel? It shouldn’t happen but it does. You cannot call CAA to get some emergency fuel delivered or get fuel from the highway patrol, or the tow truck. You will have to be towed to a charging station.
Think about the changes you will have to make to your daily routine to accommodate an EV, plus the risks. Then, think about how these changes and risks will affect your daily life. Many have already thought about this, thus, despite all the talk about EVs, many in Canada are not considering an EV for their next vehicle.
Even Elon Musk knows the challenges of transitioning to EVs for our mobility needs. At a recent conference in Norway he stated, “I think realistically we do need to use oil and gas in the short term because otherwise civilization would crumble” and “One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy…. that will take some decades to complete.” Note that he said “decades” which is a time period that runs well beyond 2035.
While EVs have a place in our automotive landscape, they should not be the only choice. I fear that we are being rushed into a transition fraught with risks that are not being sufficiently illuminated or considered.