According to a recent study, 97% of short-range EV drivers do all of their charging at home (or work – where available). So why is there such a huge push among non-EV drivers for a larger public network?
Think about this: How often do you actually use a gas station? Once a week, maybe twice if you drive more often. The odds are pretty good that you consistently use just a few stations that are close to home or work – that’s it. So you’re not really using the entire network of gas stations – why would you feel you need a huge choice to plug in an EV? If you drive an EV you can simply put a charging station right in your garage or at the side of your house and “fill up” at night. With a Plug Type 2 connected to your home (approximately $2,000), the average charge time is 2-4 hours… while you sleep… is that not the most convenient way to “fill up” the car?
So what do you need to know before purchasing/leasing an EV? How does it operate? Can you REALLY forget about “Range Anxiety”?
The auto club (AA) of Great Britain reported that in 2017, an average of 2,100 people run out of petrol EVERY WEEK… and that’s just the ones that called them for help. Obviously they aren’t worried about range anxiety, are they?
Charging An EV – The Various Plugs
Contrary to what many people think, the charge stations don’t actually charge the EV, the actual charging device for Level 1 and Level 2 charging comes factory-installed in the vehicle and is called the “on-board charger.” It converts AC power from the wall to DC power that charges the battery in the vehicle. The charging speed may vary, but the most common on-board chargers are 6.6 kW on battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 3.3 kW on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). DC Fast Charging (Level 3) uses its own off-board charger.
- Level 1 Charging (Plug Type 1): The slowest form of charging. Uses a plug to connect to the onboard charger and a standard household 3-prong (120v) outlet. This setup provides between 3.3 and 8 kilometres per hour of charge (2-5 miles per hour). Charge-time is anywhere from 13 to 50+ hours if the battery is fully depleted. It sounds excessively long, but it can work for those who travel less than 64 kms a day and have all night to charge.
- Level 2 Charging (Plug Type 2): The most common plug is the J1772 (Type 2), capable of charging at 80A/240V (4-6 hour charge-time) although most charge at 30A/200V (6kW). Drivers can add 16-40 kms (10-25 miles) of range in an hour of charging at home or at a public station.
- DC Fast Charging (Plug Type 3): Most recently there are also DC Charging stations, some refer to this charging as Level 3. In this case, the charger is a gas pump-sized machine. There is no single standard for fast-charging –Nissan Leaf and other models get their quickest jolt using CHAdeMO, and another group uses SAE Combo. All of the fast chargers deliver about an 80% charge in 30-40 minutes. At present, very few vehicles can use these stations as the plug is completely different from the Type 2 plug. GM in their wisdom installed the DC plug in the Bolt EV to future-proof it, and more and more manufacturers are doing likewise.
- Another plug is called HPWC (also considered a Type 3 plug) it’s Tesla only. A Tesla can use a J1772/Type 2 socket station by using the supplied adapter, but J1772/Type 2 enabled vehicle cannot use the HPWC socket. All of the SuperChargers deliver about an 80% charge in 30 minutes.
CHARGING AT HOME
Tesla and Kia provide the unit for home use when you purchase your car, while most other manufacturers point you to a company they recommend or have a partnership with.
There are numerous options for house and apartment dwellers to charge at home. A few companies that target the home market are: www.evsolutions.com; www.EverCharge.net; suncountryhighway.com/; www.evconnect.com
ON THE ROAD
How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car At A Public Station?
When you drive your EV outside of your local city/town and need to find a charge station, the situation gets more complicated and confusing. Sometimes it’s free, other times you pay. In the U.S. electric car owners often hold multiple charging station provider accounts when travelling. Assuming you pay an average of $0.11 per kilowatt hour (kWh), adding 121 kms/75 miles to a Nissan Leaf would cost less than $3.00.
Sun Country Highway [http://suncountryhighway.com – Twitter: @SunCountryHwy] is free to the user. They are available in Ontario with downtown Toronto and the Oakville to Niagara Falls corridor having the most charge stations. There are other clusters throughout Ontario towards London as well.
I used one in the town of Grimsby and it was painless, however only one of the two charge points worked. Rummaging around their website (connected to http://www.plugshare.com) it appears EV people stay in contact and keep each other up-to-date with outlets that work or are broken – even telling each other how long they’ve been parked and to go ahead and unplug them to use the charge point! I’m assuming all of this is via the free app you download.
Dealerships Most dealerships that sell EV/PHEV vehicles (not all do), usually have at least one L2 or even L3 outlet for you to use. Most are also free during business hours (they tend to be in the Service Department area of the dealership). Our local Ford dealer (Grimsby Ford) has a charge station right out front and it’s available 24/7. It’s also ideal because it is right across the street from a travel comfort stop.
Local Electric Companies Most but not all electrical providers have one or two outlets available – usually free. Unfortunately, the ones I found online were not located in a convenient location, although one in St. Catharines, Ontario was within walking distance to shops and several restaurants.
Hotels/Motels A logical place for outlets would be a place where you’re bound to spend a considerable amount of time. To that end, there are more and more hotels/motels installing charge points. In virtually all cases you have to be staying at the hotel/motel to take advantage of it, however.
ChargePoint [www.chargepoint.com] is available throughout Canada and the U.S. Some stations are free, but expect to pay for most of them.
Available in most major cities, membership is free and users pay in $25 increments. ChargePoint has no control over pricing, and the stations have different price levels set by the actual property owner or lessee. Prices can range from $1/hour up to $5/hour for Level 2 stations. EV owners that are fortunate to have DC fast-charging available to them (other than Tesla) will usually end up paying more for the convenience. These prices do not include the cost of access to the parking facility, which depends on the location – in Toronto figure on $5-15/hr to park, for example. According to their website there are 39,038 total charging spots and 590 Express spots.
ChargeHub [www.chargehub.com] is another good site to find local charge points, including Tesla. The map (using Google Maps) is very easy to use and give you a huge selection find a charge station on the go. They specialize in various home charge options.
Putting It To The Test – In The Real World…
Local EV Plug Stations
Just over a year ago I had the opportunity to drive three EV’s within a very short period of time – I had them for a week each (more are planned for this year). The reviews of each individual test are below. Although all three were EV’s they go about their EV life just a little bit different from each other, so it’s worth taking the time to find which one will work for you.
Ford Fusion Energi
My Experience Driving An EV
While on the Chevrolet website (www.chevrolet.ca/volt-electric-car.html) looking at the Volt info, I spotted “Charging Stations Are All Around” and entered my local town into the location… wouldn’t you know it TWO locations popped up!! Using the PlugShare website [www.plugshare.com], it pinpointed the locations for me – even telling me one of them was in use right now!! I knew one of the locations, but the other one was right downtown beside an insurance company. Shiver-me-timbers – an insurance company giving back to the public! Gobsmacked I did some more research…
Location One (insurance company): Ports: 1 – EV Plug (J1772) – Sun Country Highway 30A Service
Location Two (close to the LCBO and Post Office): Ports: 2 – EV Plug (J1772)’s // Dual Sun Country Highway Charging Station – 80A Service.
Note: the general population – those actually using the PlugShare units can rate on a score of 1-10 how good or bad the unit is. The insurance company got a PlugScore of 10, while the one located close to the LCBO and Post Office got a PlugScore of 7.3
Locations in nearby cities and towns turned up this information…
- Scotia Bank charges (of course they do!!) $12/hour to charge.
- Another company had “Access Restricted” but was still free – donations accepted.
- A Chevrolet and Kia dealer offered 24/7 free charge and a BMW dealership had 2, but not for public use.
- Going in the opposite direction I found a winery in the next town over offering an EV Plug (J1772) and a Tesla Model S/Model X plug for guests.
- The Conservation Area didn’t say it charged for the electricity, but you have to pay the $18 parking to get access to the Wall Outlet (120V) or 2 EV Plug (J1772). It didn’t say if you also had to pay the ridiculous park entrance fees of Adult $6.00, Senior/Student $4.00 in addition to the car pillaging fee.
Going even further afield – more akin to the distance I would normally travel, there were a couple of J1772 plugs at the Holiday Inn and Best Western hotels as well as a Mercedes dealership (with a PlugScore of only 3.1). The Chevy dealership across the street had a 9.6 score.
Two other options were Days Inn and Comfort Inn – both offering the plugs (J1772 and a Tesla Model S/Model X) only to their guests.
What About Even Further Afield?
That’s great for the local options, but what if I’m going just a little bit further and want to use as much electricity as possible? The Volt has an all-electric range of 85 kilometres. Well I zoomed the map out to see where other stations were located….
Holy Cow, Batman!! I had no idea there were even close to this many outlets in Ontario, New York, Michigan and beyond. Let’s zoom in closer to home – between St. Catharines and Toronto along Lake Ontario…
That’s very impressive and the Ontario government are planning on even more along this corridor.
With a plethora of other EV’s heading our way, there’s no fear of the dreaded “Range Anxiety” that may have been an issue in the past. And remember – it’s not a matter of ‘IF’ you’ll be driving/owning/leasing an EV, it’s going to be ‘WHEN’ because the days of ICE (internal combustion engines) vehicles are numbered.
Interested in leasing/purchasing an EV now?
Here’s a quick guide to the actual savings you’ll get by switching to an EV – based on your yearly kilometres/miles driven, it automatically calculates yearly savings per 100kms. https://chargehub.com/en/calculator.html
For more information, here’s a great resource: http://www.fleetcarma.com/electric-vehicle-charging-guide/
Copyright © 2019 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland
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