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My road trip experience and why the future of EV's depends on it getting better

Discussion in 'North America' started by MichFin, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. MichFin

    MichFin Member

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    I'm a new Tesla owner and I've had my car for about 1 month and put 1800 miles on it. I took it for a road trip for the fourth of July weekend and prepared my route on EV Trip planner. I coordinated with the hotel to plug in while I was there and also used on board navigation to get me going while making sure I had enough charge. My wife and I have been in information technology for over 20 years and we're real comfortable with technology. Add to that we're huge fans of EV's and Tesla having owned a Volt for over a year.


    That being said planning and having the road trip is still an adventure... Making sure we had enough charge and then doubling back 15 miles to recharge after we did our 100 mile tour of Amish country. Then before heading home we had to head 30 minutes in the opposite direction to supercharge. Having to Drive 15 minutes off the highway to get to the South Bend super charger each way. Lastly, the on board Navigation took us off the highway for the last leg and didn't let us plot a course over the highway so we wouldn't be sure if we would make it. We stuck to the off roads which took us longer.

    There's about 5-10% of the population that will put up with that much inconvenience in the name of adventure. So if Tesla really wants to sell 500k cars a year they have to figure out how to expand the supercharger network in a huge way. We're not talking about double or triple we need 10 to 20 times what they have right now. Because my mother, sister, neighbor or friends will demand the effortless trip they are accustomed to.

    This is where I feel Tesla should once again take the lead and create a supercharger that supports all three types of fast chargers. Tesla supercharger, Chad-emo and the combo plug such that each one charges at the fastest speed capable. Just like at a gas pump where you have multiple hoses for diesel, E85 and gasoline. Then using the political force of all the car companies combined lobby state governments to install these at highway rest stops and turnpike service plazas. Have them price it high enough where they make a good profit. It's a win win for everybody... The car companies build out their infrastructure quickly and cooperatively. The state governments could come up with a few million dollars each to build a few dozen superchargers along popular travel routes and generate income from the sales that will more than pay for themselves even at low volumes ($10 profit x 10 cars a day=$36k a year)
     
  2. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    I would prefer Tesla concentrate on building out the SC network as is and spend any "extra" engineering effort on the battery factory and G3.
     
  3. cpa

    cpa Member

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    Your first experience is always the most difficult. The Supercharger network is still a work in progress, and will continue to be such for a few more years. You cannot always "get there from here" easily with today's infrastructure, particularly when we are used to filling up our ICE anywhere, anytime.

    I do not think that a mixture of charging plugs and adapters will necessarily solve this situation. We are in the infancy of electric vehicles. Eventually a solution will appear that will make traveling anywhere convenient and pleasant. We just need to be patient! Once the Model III is well under production, I speculate that fast charging opportunities will start to sprout like mushrooms.
     
  4. Rocky_H

    Rocky_H Member

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    @MichFin, You are talking at cross purposes in your Supercharger scheming. You say Tesla needs to build out so many more, like 10 to 20 times. Mmmkay, lot of capital cost there, but it comes out of selling the cars, so Tesla customers are paying for it and will get the benefit of it--sounds like a decent plan.

    "This is where I feel Tesla should once again take the lead and create a supercharger that supports all three types of fast chargers. Tesla supercharger, Chad-emo and the combo plug such that each one charges at the fastest speed capable."

    WHAT?! So then you want them to put those other charging ports on them, so they are constantly clogged with other electric cars and the Tesla owners who actually paid for them can't use them? As long as Tesla is the only one footing the bill for these charging stations that are so much better than all of the other ones out there, I have no problem at all that they use a proprietary connector so that they will be available for the Tesla cars.
     
  5. TexasEV

    TexasEV Active Member

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    U.S. vehicle sales are 18,000,000 per year. If Tesla eventually sells 500,000 per year, that's less than 3% of the U.S. market. So it's no problem if only 5-10% of the U. S. market "puts up with that much inconvenience in the name of adventure" (which will be less inconvenient each year, remember we're still in the early adopter phase).

    Tesla should support charging its own cars and let the other manufacturers worry about theirs. Even with its mission of developing sustainable transportation, it's still a business, not a charity.
     
  6. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Robert.Boston once did a back-of-a-napkin calculation that said it would take 600 Supercharger locations to cover the lower 48's Interstate network with 80 mile separation. Deduct a few for location at interstate intersections. Currently 198 US locations. 1,000 would give a lot of coverage, including popular non Interstate highways. So 3 times to make pretty much anywhere in the USA possible, then another hundred to fill in gaps, and afew hundred more to make routes more fun.

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    Especially since:
    - most other manufacturers' idea of fast is 60kW.
    - contention is a big issue, so "closed" charging networks are a good idea. Note that it's not thst big a deal to go back and add a protocol and connector. It's the capability that's the importsnt thing.
     
  7. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    I think the long-term future of Superchargers is not in Tesla's hands, it is in the market's hands. I think we will see one and two kiosk, privately owned, Superchargers in many areas like mall parking lots. Along interstates and in big cities, I think there will be travel plazas that are basically a ton of Superchargers and then something like a strip mall that has complementing businesses like coffee shops, massage places, restaurants, similar to what an airport offers. The hardware might be made by Tesla, and might not be. I'd bet there is a fee.

    These plazas, I think, will have Tesla plugs on them, opposed to CCS or chademo, I think one standard will win out and it will be Tesla once the Model 3 hits in big numbers.
     
  8. SmartElectric

    SmartElectric Active Member

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    Not mine. We just came back from 2500km of supercharged road tripping fun in our first week of ownership. The built in navigation was nearly perfect, only one slight blemish when I decided to "undercharge" and make it from one supercharger to another on fumes (ok, we had 7% SOC remaining on an S85) and the navigation tried to send me backwards (as many here have discovered). Like I said nearly perfect, and it was so easy to do, the chargers were flawless, and there were always interested onlookers asking questions to entertain which certainly makes time fly. :)
     
  9. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    My first EV road trip - 3,500 miles in the Roadster in 2010 when the nearest charging station of any kind was 800 miles away - was a real adventure. I completely agree mainstream buyers are not going to put up with what I went through to make that trip.

    My most recent EV road trip - 11,000 miles in the Model S last September using Superchargers everywhere except part of Montana (which has by now largely been filled in) was BETTER than any road trip I ever took in a gas car.

    Yes, more Superchargers, more destination chargers, and better route-planning software are still needed - Tesla doesn't have everything covered yet. But they are already working on those things.
     
  10. MichFin

    MichFin Member

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    I guess from the responses that you're missing my points. I was totally OK with the trip knowing I'm an early adopter and I knew going into the trip what was going to be involved but most people won't be so open minded. Most people would not plan ahead or even even have the patience to deal with the current infrastructure. So you get into the chicken or the egg scenario. The masses won't want to jump in until the infrastructure is ready and the infrastructure won't come until there are enough customers to justify it.

    Also, I'm not expecting Tesla to build our charging stations for all three plug types... Just design and sell them. The states would front the money and since all EV's would be included the car companies would work together to pressure the states to make the investments. If each state installs chargers at most/all their rest stops it would cost them a few million dollars ($100,000 x 50 rest stops in each state=$5,000,000). A relatively small investment that they would recover by charging for the service. If all 50 states built 50 supercharger locations then we would have 2500 charging locations across heavily traveled routes. That would be freaking awesome coverage.

    Lastly, for those worried that they would be filled up with other cars charging... That would be the best case scenario because it would promote building more since they would be profitable to states and private businesses.

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    You can design the best product ever but if the demand isn't there it won't sell. Demand comes with user acceptance.

    is Windows the best operating system. No, but since all the applications are built for windows few would brave using linux (free).

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    From what I see on the map Tesla is building a dozen or so stations at a time and footing the bill. This is a huge burden on a small company. I propose that they design and sell them to the states where they actually make a profit. Since it will benefit all the car companies they can all pressure the states to make the investment.

    These stations won't be free they will actually generate a profit for the states so if they get all clogged up they will be motivated to build more. Furthermore, if private businesses see them getting clogged up they too will jump on the bandwagon. The key here is getting the states to take the first step.
     
  11. TexasEV

    TexasEV Active Member

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    That's not the key, that's the reason why this plan wouldn't happen. It took two years for superchargers to open on the New Jersey Turnpike, and that was with Tesla building them and paying for them on state land. If states needed to fund them too, we would all still be driving ICE cars.
     
  12. BoerumHill

    BoerumHill Member

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    MichFin - you make some good points. Definitely will see a shift in expectations and tolerance of the challenges of LD travel once the Model 3 ramps up production.

    My question for you is, do you have any plans to travel in-state off the SC network? Michigan coverage is spotty above G.R. Several destination options, and you can easily find a (longer than SC to be sure) charge at off-beat locations. Not through Plugshare at present, but I am thinking you could do upper LP and the eastern U.P. relying on Nema 14-50 charging at campgrounds. Now that's an adventure! Would you ever consider such a trip?

    Just curious because long time residents of Michigan know that no matter where you live, everybody loves a road trip "up North." I wonder if the 100 or so Model S owners in the mitten have even attempted it. I know there were a couple write-ups in the Michigan thread about going to T.C., but I wonder if most Michigander Tesla owners haven't even bothered to try since it would entail slow charging and even more trip planning.
     
  13. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    I kind of agree with the OP's sentiments here. Myself, I have no problem doing a little trip planning and find it a bit of an "adventure". I've done a few solo road trips without any difficulty. Recently, however, my wife and I went on a bit of a vacation with the car, and in my view it went swimmingly, but to hear her tell it is a different story. The thing that bugged her the most was that we had to stop and eat when the car was hungry (i.e. needed charging) and not when she would have ideally liked to stop. On a gas car road trip, stopping for fuel is rather trivial, and then you can pick and choose your time and place to stop and eat. Not so much on the Supercharger highway. One stop only had a coffee shop and a fast food joint (which she hates). Of course, you could separate your charging stops from your meal stops, but that will add significant delay. I think more Superchargers would alleviate this a bit simply by providing more options for places to charge. Right now, on most travel routes, it's pretty much limited to one location per stop.
     
  14. MichFin

    MichFin Member

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    I am from the Detroit area and have a golf trip planned for the UP (upper peninsula) and can't take my MS. So we're stuck driving my friends Buick (UGH).

    I truly feel that any situation where I have to charge for more than 30-40 minutes is not worth the effort unless it's overnight.

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    That's why I feel it's got to be a unified effort by the car manufacturers. If Tesla wan't to put a supercharger in a good spot GM and Nissan will be against it. But if it's a supercharger for all cars they can push together.
     
  15. techmaven

    techmaven Active Member

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    We already have agreement, in the U.S., for L2 charging that is reasonably future proofed. 80 amp J1772 will reasonably fill 150 kWh battery packs overnight. For widespread EV adoption, we need to have widespread destination charging anyways. There are many trips where you can press on if you knew that there was a destination charger waiting for you, or even a 30 or 60 mph J1772 along the way would help provide the cushion necessary to complete a leg.

    As for DC L3 charging, they are expensive. Freaking expensive. Not only that, only Tesla's Supercharger standard is a true SAE DC Level 3 standard that supports > 200 amp charging. Both the existing CHAdeMO and CCS Combo 1 standards are limited to 200 amps and therefore, in the real world tops out at 75 to 80 kW. Both of these standards will need to be redesigned in 2-4 years as the non-Tesla automakers start to ship vehicles with > 50 kWh batteries. I was hoping the Bolt, or one of the many Audi e-tron announcement would spur the SAE standards committees to revise J1772 Combo DC to handle true Level 3 charging. So far, no evidence of any progress on that front available publicly.

    If you are interested, look back at JB Straubel's comments in an SAE interview in 2013:

    Tesla Motors CTO talks future batteries and charging protocols - SAE International

    The difficulty in corralling the various automakers to support viable Level 3 EV charging is frustrating and demonstrates really where the non-Tesla automakers are truly in their EV development progress. If they were truly pressing forward to 200-300 mile EPA range vehicles with battery sizes at above 50 kWh, they would have already standardized a L3 charging standard that Tesla and others could use. Right now, to press forward with any DC charging that isn't L3 is just throwing away money.

    So no, I don't support asking government to waste money on deploying extremely expensive and obsolete L2 DC charging. No CHAdeMO nor CCS Combo 1 EVSE's should be deploying using government money. With private money, well, everyone is free to waste their own money.
     
  16. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    Agreed, techmaven. That's why when I talk to government entities that want to help, rather than install DC stations I ask them to help find available sites - good locations with access to power - at reasonable prices. Make the locations available to entities that want to install DC charging on their own dime. Then only the serious automakers will do so, and so the charger mix will reflect the mix of automakers that really want to sell cars.
     
  17. cpa

    cpa Member

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    Since the OP clarified his intent, I like his suggestion about having government-funded fast-charging locations. However, the wild card in all of this is that our governments are notoriously poor business people: inefficient, inept, and frequently overpay or under develop their models. A "rest stop" model (at least here in California) would be problematic as most rest areas are in remote, rural areas that are vacant (or nearly so) for many hours at a time. I could see them easily being vandalized by "coal roller" types in their pick-em-up trucks. And then we are stuck.

    It might be a better model for the "governments" to condemn some land in selected areas that would cause no harm and then arrange for third parties to build, maintain, and charge for fast charging, perhaps providing low-interest loans to jump start this plan. Maybe when the Model III is popular this will become reality.
     
  18. MichFin

    MichFin Member

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    I'm no charging expert but I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to make a single unit that could do all 3 types of charge. The machine talks to car/battery and feeds it what it can handle. The units would be level 3 charging and just go down to the best available for the car to handle. If the future holds some different standard you just update the cable and software. Furthermore, these would be revenue generating for the state. This weekend I stopped at the superchargers 5 times and only found myself alone once. Even if they only get a dozen customers a day they for $10 profit they will still recover their money in a couple of years.

    Keep in mind that Tesla only has about 50,000 cars sold in the US and will probably double that next year. Then the following year GM will push out the Bolt and probably sell 50-100k units and Tesla will be pushing out 100-200k cars by end of 2018. That will increase the long range EV ranks from 50k to 250k in just the next 3 years. In 5 years you're likely to see 500k long range EV's on the road.

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    You could start with some low hanging fruit and place them at existing service plaza's on the turnpikes and see how it goes. These things take time to implement so what's an idea now won't be a reality for a couple of years. Just about the time Model 3, Bolt and Nissan's 200+ mile car come out.
     
  19. techmaven

    techmaven Active Member

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    A reliable combo 50/62 kW CHAdeMO/CCS EVSE is in the neighborhood of $35,000, plus another $10,000 roughly in install costs. Let's say each charge, on average, was 30 kWh (assuming all Model S, Bolt, other 40+ kWh battery pack cars). To make $10 profit per charge, the cost for the profit alone is $0.33 per kWh. Add the cost of electricity + billing, we're talking charging $0.55-1.00 per kWh, not including demand charges. At 12 customers a day, $10 profit per charge, 365 days a year, that would pay off the install costs in a year. However, that assumes the plug is busy around 11 hours a day every day. In order to make the charging experience reasonable, the actual utilization rates have to be far lower in order to handle peak demands. Which means the utilization rate is more like 10 or 20% of that. Which means the stations won't make back their install costs in 5+ years even charging $0.55/kWh at the lowest electricity rates. At 5+ years, we're talking 2020+. Do you really believe that a 50 kW EVSE will be a viable/desirable charging unit in 2020?

    Further, most of the existing CHAdeMO/CCS EVSE's are installed with 100 kW peak rate limits at 500 volts. Which means 75-80 kW. An upgrade beyond 80 kW means updating the plug, the charging cable, the AC -> DC rectifiers, and the power cable from the transformer. Maybe even the cabinet. That's basically everything except some concrete and conduit work. Now, if they were installing wiring and components capable of 150 kW rates, then ok... but that isn't what is going on. Further, almost all of these installs are for 1 or 2 plugs and the site prep work isn't done for scaling out to more plugs. Which means congestion is always going to be frustrating.
     
  20. MichFin

    MichFin Member

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    From what I've heard a 8 stall super charger is about $150k. Outfitting the same with extra plugs and a credit card processing would probably not add much to it. I don't know if scaling down to 4 stalls would be cost effective but if you can get the price down to $100k for 4 stalls then you charge $.50/kwh x 50 kwh = $25 maybe $10 profit x 12 cars a day $43,500 per year with relatively light usage.
     

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