Only 2.3 Hours to Recharge!

My teeth and gums are particularly sore today.

I read — and relate with sourness — that GM has achieved the miracle of reducing the charge-up time of the 2019 Chevy Volt to “only” 2.3 hours — assuming you can plug the thing in to a 240 Volt “fast” charger.

If not, the time to achieve the equivalent of a full tank is only 13 hours.

This is taken as progress in a world where that word invariably means regression.

Progress used to mean or at least be roughly synonymous with improvement.

Thus, it would be considered an improvement if a car cost less, performed better or imposed fewer hassles on its owner.

Well, it would by the old standards of language.

We are supposed to cheer as “progress” a vehicle that takes literally orders of magnitude longer to recover its capability to move — the thing we expect a car to be able to do above everything else — than a car built 100 years ago took to recover its ability to move. Do the math. Call it two hours. That is 120 minutes.

As opposed to the five minutes it takes to gas up a normal — a sane — car.

How many times does 5 go into 120?

Twenty four times.

That’s the best-case scenario, remember.

If you do not have access to 240 Volts — which most people don’t because it takes special wiring/infrastructure (which costs extra, too) — and have to plug into 120V instead, the recharge time more than quintuples. It takes literally half a day to recharge on household 120V current.

You don’t want to do that math.

Though maybe you should, given the hard push electrics and plug-in hybrids are being given by Uncle. You soon may have no choice about plugging-in.

And paying for it.

The car — and then the charge.

One of the anvils hanging over the collective heads of the electric car earnest — the starry-eyed fools who see these things as The Future — is the current absence of charge. Not the electricity but the having-to-pay-for it.

Many of the public charge stations are currently “free” — for now. It is a Tricky Dick (or Slick Willy, if you prefer a more . . . current reference) means of gulling the gullible into thinking — such a deal!

And none of the public chargers or the electricity piped into your home includes motor fuels taxes, as on gas and diesel.

Which of course it will have to at some point because it must. How else will the roads be paid for? If anything, electric cars accelerate wear and tear on roads because they weigh considerable more than their IC-engined counterparts. That fact will probably be factored into the taxes applied to electricity once the electric car thing really gets rolling — assuming it ever does. But without question, at least the equivalent of the current 50-something cents per gallon we pay in addition to paying for each gallon of gasoline or diesel will have to be applied to the kilowatt-hour equivalent of electricity.

That math will be unpleasant, too.

But there will be plenty of time to figure it all out. Using an abacus, if you like.

There’s no hurry.

Ah, progress.

We pay more to wait longer and go not as far in cars that cost more.

And they ask me why I drink . . . .

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3 Responses to “Only 2.3 Hours to Recharge!”

  1. James C. Walker says:

    EVs will be truly competitive with internal combustion engine vehicles when:
    – they cost about the same WITHOUT taxpayer funded subsidies
    – their range is 300+ miles
    – recharging on the road takes a maximum of 10 minutes with enough locations to make travel reliably practical 24/7/365
    – recharging points, both home and public, have a “fuel tax” component in the electricity costs so EVs pay their fair share of road taxes
    – and the recycling of lithium-ion and other high tech batteries becomes practical

  2. JEFFREY MINER says:

    What the electric vehicle ultimately promises over conventional drivetrains is simplicity, reliability and reduced total cost. The ROI on an electric vehicle is NOT comparing energy consumption. It’s the cost advantage and convenience of a maintenance free vehicle.

    As for road taxes, I’m now forced in GA to pay them in my annual Leaf registration.

    I own a broad range of vehicles, six of them — from a Dodge 3500 Cummins diesel dually to a Nissan Leaf and I use the Leaf for all my daily driving. It’s always my first choice. Why? Because it’s the cheapest vehicle to operate and the best choice for urban Atlanta driving where there simply is no joy to be had in traffic anyway. And I have all night to conveniently and cheaply charge the car in my garage. I simply converted a 30 amp electric dryer plug and added an EVSE for $200 and can charge my leaf at 220 volts in < 3 hours. I've owned the car for about 18 months and 12,000 miles and have spent not one cent on it. Literally: zero. I can't even see this thing in my monthly electric bill.

    Electric cars solve for complexity and waste. There's no fluid systems to flush, leak, replenish or which will leave you stranded by the side of the road. Actually, that's not entirely true: there is now anti-freeze in a cooling system for the battery. The manual requires that it be flushed every 15 years. I laughed when I read the maintenance schedule.

    So this car produces no waste oil, no antifreeze waste and requires no parts or tune up. It is as much maintenance as a toaster. So my mileage costs to operate it goes from the current IRS rate of $0.54 per mile to under $0.11. At some point the battery will wear down and the car's range will become unreasonably low. With just 23k on it, it too early to tell how that pans out. It's currently $6,000 to replace the battery, down from $14,000 when the Leaf was first introduced, and the new battery has more range, heat tolerance and longevity. Add up the last 80k to 100k of auto maintenance bills and tell me you didn't spend 3x that! So if the battery expires at 80k, I'm out $6k or $0.07 a mile. The rest of the powertrain is estimated to last for over 400k miles. Even my Dodge Cummins engine might struggle with that benchmark. But at 112k, I've already put a clutch in it and I'm no my 3rd set of brakes. With electrics, brakes are only for panic stops.

    The Leaf does not weigh more than a convention vehicle — it weights exactly 3400 lbs, as did my 2004 BMW 330i ZHP which the Leaf replaces. However, the BMW averaged $1 / mile to maintain for 60k miles over ten years of ownership. It didn't like the short drive cycle — too many sub 5 mile trips in traffic. Horses for courses. Driving the BMW cross country on a regular basis would have resulted in very different average costs.

    So while you're absurdly focused on how long it takes to recharge an electric car, you fail to realize that in a normal course of driving routine — where the car returns to its garage daily — there's ample and convenient opportunity to recharge. No more trips to the gas station, no more fuel, oil, filters, DEF fluid, plugs, wires, etc. Which means, it's the perfect vehicle for most people. It certainly fits into most household fleets. They made the Leaf ugly for a reason — to ensure only logical people would buy them. The car companies can't sustain their current business model on a vehicle this efficient. That's why GM killed the electric car in the 90's. It's not that people don't want them or that they're too costly — have you priced a new diesel pick up these days?! — it's that once people realize the dirty little secret, they're going to disrupt everything.

    Sure, for road trips, they are not a good option. But we're rarely doing that. Rent a car for it, or maybe you already have another one you can use.

    While the range-anxiety is very real, particularly with my first gen Leaf's diminutive battery range, and there's planning involved in how best to charge and discharge the battery to get the most life out of it, it's well worth the liberation from the maintenance expense, stress and time my other four vehicles continue to extract from me.

    Trading one failure point (an aged battery) for the thousands any new car presents, not to mention the costs — is a trade off people will realize once they begin driving electric cars. Or even once they observe their neighbor doing it.

    I'm an auto enthusiast, and even with two race cars, I'm a convert. I can't track an electric car. And I don't want to. But for 99.9% of American drivers and what they need to do, the current electric car technology is all they need. I sure hope Tesla survives. The Model Three will truly change the landscape for the better.

  3. Mark Peters says:

    What a pathetically sad article from a grossly uninformed author.

    First, there’s no mention of why we ARE transitioning to an EV future: unchecked GHG dumping places our entire planet’s future at risk. But don’t take my word for it–read the Executive Summary of the best work from 13 Federal Agencies tasked to report on this in the link on the first line here:

    https://www.nwyc.com/article/trump_administration_releases_report_on_climate_change

    Second, the author is profoundly ignorant that “special wiring” to which he refers is . . . the 240-volt wiring that is in just about 99.9% of every structure with electricity. As such, one’s garage is one’s “gas station” where you leave the house with a full “tank” every day. We’ve been doing so with two Teslas since 2013. With the PV array on our roof, we drive on sunlight, AND power the house too. Thus driving our personal GHG dumping way, way down.

    Imagine that.