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Driving EVs Out of Range

Discussion in 'Model S' started by westcoast, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. westcoast

    westcoast Member

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    Hi there. I took a ride at the LA test event and fell in love with this car. Fantastically designed vehicle. I wanted to buy it on the spot.

    I keep coming back to a nagging problem though, and one that I think is going to haunt this industry for a while: the *unpredictability* of out-of-range charging.

    A vehicle like the Tesla S is perfect for all drives that start and end with home. You have a guaranteed charging hub, and you can predict precisely how long your charging will take, and you have guaranteed access. Any trips within (maximum battery range - accessory usage / 2) are perfect for this vehicle.

    However, when I try to rationalize trips with ranges beyond this -- pretty much any trip that requires charging either in the middle of the trip (san diego to san fran) or at the destination (san diego to santa barbara and back in 85kwh, or day trip from san diego to LA in a 60kwh car), I start to imagine all sorts of scenarios that make such trips roulette events, and thus not of acceptable risk for what's supposed to be a hassle-free trip.

    The primary issue is that unless I control the environment at the other end (I own a parking spot with a charger, for example), I can have no 100% guarantee that I will be able to charge at the other end.

    A website may show that 3 chargers are available in a destination parking garage (or even a hotel), but the list of things that could go wrong are large, and these risks actually grow with more EVs on the road (leafs,volts,teslas,etc):

    - The chargers may all be in use. Maybe for the entire day (or night in the case of hotel).
    - They may be broken, inactive.
    - They may not interface properly with my car.
    - Couldn't someone come along with 1% juice, and in their own panic disconnect my car, and charge theirs? Or do charging ports lock? Can a-hole kids disconnect my car just for fun? Or does key-in-range lock charge port in?
    - Non-electric-cars may be parking in the spaces by the chargers
    - The parking garage may close before my required charge is made
    - Construction work, maintenance being done, other obstacles getting to the chargers.
    - Etc

    In short, if I am driving from San Diego to Santa Barbara for a weekend (215 miles), and I *NEED* to charge at the other end to be able to get home, then I have zero guarantee that I can charge with certainty in a time-predictable manner. It's like driving an ICE into a desert where you've heard there is a gas station or two that may possibly be open, but it all depends on how lucky you are. Chargers listed on a website are completely theoretical because they do not guarantee ME a charging time and spot. Maybe those chargers have "always been available" for Roadster users, but we're getting a lot more EVs on the roads now - more competition for charging spots.

    Even as charging options expand and more EVs get on the roads (say, lots of parking garages in the area have chargers), can you imagine the hassle of trying to find one that DOES have a spot free, and then trying to work out how to get from parking-garage-with-an-available-spot to the location you actually wanted to get to?

    Even hypothetical future super-charging stations have their issues. How long might a wait be at one of these? If it takes half an hour to super-charge a car to 50%, then we should assume that most cars will be there at least half an hour. Can you imagine the lines at a gas station where every car takes 30 minutes to fill up? Are there going to be 50 charging ports and 50 parking spots available at super-charging stations? Is there enough expensive real estate to PARK 50 cars in urban areas to super-charge them? And what precisely do all of these people do for 30 minutes while they charge? Can they theoretically get super-charging down to a 5-minute event? And if that ONE station is closed for maintenance or whatever, what then? In the early years at least, odds of there being 2 super-charge stations next door to each other will be low.

    So, I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this issue. I often hear things like "super charging stations" will save us, or "more parking garages will have ports", but it all sounds like a logistical nightmare to me as a driver out-of-range who needs to charge and more importantly needs to be able to GUARANTEE that he/she can charge in a certain amount of time.

    Don't get me wrong, I still want this car and intend on buying it, even if it means all trips are maxrange/2 in range. I do, however, have trouble differentiating driving out of range in a place where I do not have a guaranteed charge-location (with backup locations) from a gamble that may result in either (a) a lot of wasted time or (b) a visit from a tow-truck.


    Thanks for your thoughts
     
  2. Rifleman

    Rifleman Now owns 2 Model S's!!!

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    For me at least, I think that it will be rare for me to charge my Model S any place but my house. There are 2 places where I occasionally spend a lot of time that have given me the ok to install a 14-50 outlet, so I may charge at these locations, and 1 of those is on the far edge of round trip range for the 60 kWh pack in normal mode. For trips beyond the round trip range, I would need to have 2-3 charging options in close proximity to my destination to feel comfortable taking the Model S. Supercharging is an entirely different story, and we just know know enough details about it yet to know how useful it will be.
     
  3. Citizen-T

    Citizen-T Active Member

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    You make some good points. I have a few thoughts for you.

    1. Are you in a two car family? My solution for the short term is that I'll get a 160mi Model S which we will use as much as possible (my daily commute, trips to the grocery store, mall, etc.) basically like you said, trips that start and end at home and are within the car's standard range/2. The couple of times a year that we drive outside of the Model S's range, we'll take my wife's car.

    2. Chargers are relatively cheap and fast to install, unlike building a gas station. I think if I owned a business, let's say a McDonald's, and found that my charging spaces were always full and there were people passing up my store because there was no open station, I'd invest in some more chargers. My point is, while there may be some lag, I think that the market will respond appropriately and efficiently to the new demand coming online from all the EVs hitting the road.

    3. Battery swapping might be an option. Model S's battery can be swapped out in under a minute given the proper equipment. This would eleviate the problem you mentioned about long lines. It sounds like Tesla has something in mind along these lines, though they are playing it close to the chest right now. Hopefully we'll get a glimpse at their vision this month.
     
  4. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I felt the same way until I took a Roadster 1300+ mile roadtrip just over a year ago. No problems. That's when I decided to go 100% electric and ditch the ICE. And the infrastructure has only grown by an order of magnitude since then. It's becoming a nonissue.
     
  5. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    It's not that bad.

    For your SD to SB trip, you simply want to arrange for charging at your destination hotel. Some hotels will hold a charger for you, others have them in the valet parking, so they move cars around to charge them. If you're there all weekend, then you'll certainly find charging before you have to leave.

    For road trips in which you need to charge to reach the destination, a little planning goes a long way. What are the chargers along the route? Figure out 3 of them within initial range. Stop at the first on the your way - if that's not available go to the second. If that's not available, you have the third.

    Get a ChargePoint card. The ChargePoint network (online or cell phone App) shows you which stations are out of order and which are in use. Some stations can even be reserved ahead of time.

    My guess is that Superchargers won't be in urban areas. The best place for them is along typical road trip routes, starting within range from urban areas.

    Your point about more EVs hitting the roads now is valid. But, most people in a 75 mile range EV won't attempt big road trips requiring 3 or more charging stops. Also, Superchargers will be Tesla only (others have Chademo).

    The only worry I see for the next couple of years is road trips on holiday weekends - at least in CA. The SD to SF corridor is a popular route and if many Roadster and Model S owners travel it at the same time that may bunch things up. Leave early/late and know the multiple places you can charge along the way. If you're really worried, take a gasser for that one trip a year.
     
  6. Citizen-T

    Citizen-T Active Member

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    Oh, and I always forget to mention that you could rent an ICE. If I weren't in a two-car family this is probably what I would do. Drive the Model S all year long, and the two or three times a year I need more range than that I'd rent a really nice, comfy, fast ICE with all my fuel savings I racked up the rest of the year.

    I like this better than the Volt (range extended EV) approach. Why lug around a tank full of gas and a generator and all the inconveniences that come with it all year long when I could just rent them when I need them?
     
  7. mitch672

    mitch672 Active Member

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    #7 mitch672, Jul 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
    There are also all of the RV parks, most have 14-50 outlets, that can charge your Model S at 31 miles per hour of charge time, and where you are in CA, there are thousands of J-1772 EVSEs, most of the public ones are rated at 30Amps, so you will get about 23 miles/hour of charge from them. Worst case scenario, find a standard 120V 15A outet, of course that will take days to charge (but you might have days on a weekend trip). I would not be terribly worried about this where you are located.
     
  8. Trnsl8r

    Trnsl8r Blue 85kwh since 12/8/12

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    Off-topic maybe, but Bonnie did you write up a blog or journal about that trip? I'd be curious to read it...
     
  9. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Great point about the RV parks - I've used them a number of times.

    There's one thing no one has mentioned - you can plug into 110V. Everyone has them. I've found hotels will bend over backwards to help me access a plug. If you're staying at a hotel for more than one night a 110V plug should allow you to fully charge. I've done that several times now.
     
  10. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    I did that in an emergency once when the planned Blink charger at the hotel didn't work because no one at the hotel had ever used the charger and never activated their Blink card. So if the hotel has a charger, ask if anyone has ever actually used them and what network if any they are one. ChargePoint card worth having, maybe Blink too.

    Campgrounds are great too. There are a few iPhone apps that locate campgrounds with 50A outlets for you as well. It best to plan ahead and call the RV park to ask if you can charge there and how much they'll charge for just a few hours.
     
  11. bluetinc

    bluetinc Member

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    Westcoast,

    I've begun planning a cross country trip with the S, and have thought through all the issues that you mention, and while I think there is merit to them, I think the reality will turn out to be much easier than you expect.

    One thing I have done over the last year is that has made me much more confident is this: I downloaded the app PlugShare. I then picked up charging cards to all the major charge station networks. Now when I have a chance I stop by local charge stations and check if they are up and running and if I could get a spot if needed. You can also see comments on stations from other users. Generally speaking there is almost never an issue (With the general exception of car dealers which seem to be a terrible place to plan to charge up on a trip).

    Personally I am now more concerned about having a flat along the way, in the middle of nowhere...

    Peter
     
  12. bluetinc

    bluetinc Member

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    Hey Dsm,

    Which app are you using for this? I haven't been able to find one for campground 50A outlets.

    Thanks,

    Peter
     
  13. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    It's called AllStays Camp & RV

    You can filter by 50A outlet.

    Dave
     
  14. RV Parks + UMC is all you really need to go anywhere and be guaranteed a place to charge. It is not the sexiest place to charge but it is a for sure bet.
     
  15. Lloyd

    Lloyd Active Member

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  16. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    I found that the infrastructure is growing right at pace with need (here in CA). When we picked up the Roadster in 2009 there were no places to plug in around us. Not one along the 101. There were old paddles and some old J1772 plugs (Avcons) that our car could plug into with big adapter box but those were vestiges from a decade earlier.

    Fast forward 3 years and there are a dozen places to J1772 plug in (I carry the CAN) along the same corridor. Nissan dealerships, public spaces, upgrades of the old sites. The point is the places to plug in grow with the amount of cars. And people asking for them.

    And that last part is important. If everyone of us who buys an electric works at getting one public plug put in near their house at the local frequented restaurant or mall then that's a spot that others can use too.

    Also, now that you have a car on order you should ask wherever you go where the plug is for your car. When you book and check into a hotel (even if you flew). At businesses you visit, at the national park, museum, Sports complex, City Hall, everywhere. Ask where you will plug in.

    You will get a lot of blank stares. ask for the manager also get the mainenatce guy on your side (super important). And while you give them a ride in your amazing car let them all know that there are programs making charge places free or near free to install .

    Early adopters have to make it happen. It's not "Superchargers that will save us." It's you.
     
  17. Rifleman

    Rifleman Now owns 2 Model S's!!!

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    This may be the quote of the year on the TMC forum. It is up to us to make the charging infrastructure fill out. I ask almost any place that I would spend 3-4 at if they have any plans to install a charging station. Most say that they have thought about it, but have no plans yet. Many will welcome me to use a 120 outlet. I figure even if they dont want to know if enough customers ask, they will eventually put a charging station in. When I do find a place that will let me charge, I also make sure to add it to plug share to spread the word. The same thing goes for your home plugs, if you are willing, put them on plug share. You probably will not get many EVer's asking to use your EVSE, but you might be that safety net that people need to trust planning on using a public charger that is out of round trip range from their house. We are all in this together.
     
  18. Trnsl8r

    Trnsl8r Blue 85kwh since 12/8/12

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  19. EarlyAdopter

    EarlyAdopter Active Member

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    Yes. Yes we will. :)

    In all seriousness, supply is starting to catch up with demand. There are enough market incentives for business to add chargers. People will go to competing hotels, restaurants with them, so savvy business owners will add them. There are maybe even opportunities for revenue sharing if use really picks up (the business could get a small share of charger use fees).

    They are becoming ubiquitous. If things continue as they are headed, you'll never have to think about finding a charger again. They'll just be where you go.

    This is not something that can happen with gas stations. Some day we'll be telling our grandkids stories about how people used to go wait in line at centralized stations to refuel their cars. How antiquated.
     
  20. spatterso911

    spatterso911 MSP#7577 **--** MX#1891

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    I remember when we had to go to a copy center to make a photocopy of something, a film processor to process photos and print them onto different sized paper, a video store to rent a movie, and a gas station to refuel my vehicle. How Antiquated!!
     

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