Ending Gasoline Thinking and understanding it's about what you do while charging


It is common to see plans for EV charging which are still bound up in "gasoline thinking" where people treat an EV like a car with a tank you empty and then fill up while empty, waiting. In fact, if you do EV charging right, you always do it while you are doing something else, so it takes zero time from your day.

In this new article and video, I outline how that works and prescribe a plan for charging based on putting it in the places where people park for the right periods of time, with sleep and work being the huge #2 and the #3. Then I outline where fast (40 minute fill-up) charging goes. Sadly, too much charging is planned for other reasons, by people who don't drive EVs or still do gasoline thinking.

Of course there is a robocar component which comes in at #1 -- the car that is just magically always charged.

I also discuss a very important realization when it comes to charging. Unlike gasoline, which is a commodity, electrical energy is not so much a product that you buy by the kwh, but rather a service. That's why the retail price for EV charging ranges from free to 55 cents/kwh, while the wholesale price at the generator is under 3 cents.

All of this is both in the video above and in a new Forbes.com article: It’s Not Where You Charge An EV, It’s What You Do While Charging


I loved this extensive and even gripping expose of charging phenomena including much brilliant speculation. As I listened I was imagining the solution to many of the impacts on convenience that you accurately describe when the car is charged faster than the activity that motivates or facilitates it. Obviously no one wants to be interrupted just to move a car.

I admit (having listened to the end) that my imagination is mooted by your vision of universal self driving electric vehicles accompanied by enough robotic or attended recharging stations. However, that universality seems to be at a quite distant future. It seems clear to me that many variations on robotic charging will solve those inconveniences long before all cars can locate, drive to and use a charging station, even an attended one.

For a reality check we might wonder how long it will be before self driving petroleum powered vehicles will calculate and then roam without drivers to buy the cheapest fuel too. Perhaps a very limited self driving capability ( such as only 1mph straight ahead) or even a car carrying conveyor belt or perhaps even cheaper a travelling robotic charging cable will resolve the need for EV operators to interrupt a movie or meal to move the car - the downside you repeatedly describe. And perhaps petroleum fuel stations will mirror the electric with automated refueling while the driver/passenger does all those more important uninterrupted things.

All of this offers a wonderful opportunity for innovation and I hope that all the many gasoline thinking companies plus government regulators have at last stopped trying to inhibit the innovation (and competition). If so, what caused that almost miracle to happen? Looking back, what caused service stations to abandon attended servicing and resort to self pumped fuel (except in Oregon)? Perhaps that ought to be factored into speculation about human assisted self driven charging.

Like all self-driving prospects, it won't be the same everywhere. Right now 70% of all electric cars are Teslas. Tesla's FSD project is deeply flawed, and a long way from being able to drive you around while you look at your phone. But it's much closer to being able to operate:

  • Only late at night when roads are empty
  • At very low speeds possible late at night
  • Over routes of just 1-2 miles avoiding problematic roads
  • With a map prepared for just that route. (Tesla doesn't like maps but could change.)
  • Or alternately, just within a large office parking lot.

If we make the presumption that offices will continue to install large arrays of charging in the office parking lot, many people live within a few miles of such offices. So all that's asked is that their cars can wake up between 11pm and 6am and make this short trip safely.

At the office, you need somebody to do the plug handling. If the lot is big, with a car arriving or leaving every few minutes, that can be a dedicated employee. It can also be somebody also doing security. For smaller lots, it can be somebody who roams around several offices.

The same is true during the day. An office might have 100 EVs but only 20 chargers. We're already at the point where cars could readily move themselves from an ordinary spot to an EV spot when signaled. A corporate security guy could go out every half hour and swap plugs, or you could even have the EV using employees get the duty of checking their app when they walk through the parking lot to see if there are plugs for them to move. Particularly the EV driving employees who benefit.

So no, this is something that can definitely happen this decade, in some areas.

Just half a mile from my house is a corporate lot with 70 stations. I don't think my Tesla is very far from being able to drive to it at midnight. Most cars only need about 60-90 minutes of charging on average so this station could handle 300 to 400 cars per night, then be back for use by employees in the day.

This can happen also in an industrial park where many companies have adjacent parking lots, with low-speed moves during the day. Also airports.

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