Best EV Charging Options for Rideshare and Personal Use?

In this more difficult present life, we confront the problems caused by human-forced climate change on a daily basis. And over the past week, midwest flooding resulting in more than a billion dollars in damages with multiple communities disrupted is just the most recent example.

It’s the same kind of persistent extreme weather pattern that many scientists warned was likely to emerge as the Earth warmed into the present range of around 1-1.2 C above 1880s averages. And it’s just one aspect of a crisis brought about by fossil fuel burning that we are all presently called to fight.

(According to NASA, February of 2019 was the third hottest such month in the 139 year climate record. Global temperatures ranging around 1.14 C above average are presently tipping the scale toward more extreme climate change related events. This situation keeps getting worse if we continue to burn fossil fuels. Image source: NASA.)

My personal project in response to this crisis at present is to transition to clean transportation and to share it with others through rideshare technology. And last week many of you helped me to make a first step toward that response. Thank you! The votes are in and most of you appear to favor the Tesla Model 3 vs Nissan Leaf Long Range, the Chevy Bolt, and the Hyundai Kona/Kia Niro (see the results of last week’s poll here).

Before I make my final choice, I’d like to take a look at one last criteria — available charging infrastructure. For my part, I’ve got an added challenge. I do not presently have the ability to charge at home. So I need to be able to access a public or work charging station in order to charge my clean ride. I think a good number of people are probably in the same situation.

(A video walk-through of clean vehicle charging options for climate change response.)

For the work piece, I work at home. So no dice. But luckily for me the sweetie (my wife — Cat) works at the Humane Society of the U.S. which does provide a work charging station. Use of that charging station during her work hours alone would enable me to charge the Tesla for both rideshare and personal use through a level 2 charger (240 outlet and J1772). To practically use this I would probably have to rotate use of my ICE — giving me about 2/3 clean ride coverage. That’s doable, but not ideal. A more perfect method would be to purchase two electric vehicles and rotate those through Cat’s work charger. But, at present, we don’t have the funds for such an endeavor.

As a result, I’m going to have to access public charging infrastructure to fill the gap if I want to maximize my clean riding time. Thankfully, there’s an app called Plugshare which provides a great deal of information about charging infrastructure across the U.S. and around the world. If you’re interested in getting an EV but are anxious about charging — I encourage you to check it out. Very helpful!

According to Plugshare, here in Gaithersburg, there’s a huge number of public chargers. Many of these are nearby.

(My home community of Gaithersburg supports numerous electric vehicle charging stations. Level 2 chargers are shown in green and fast chargers are shown in orange [not origin ;)]. Image source: Plugshare.)

If you look at the above image you’ll see a map of the Gaithersburg area covered in green and orange images. The green images indicate level 2 charging stations which are capable of providing between 15-30 miles worth of vehicle range per hour. The orange images indicate fast chargers which are capable of near full recharge in between 35 minutes to one hour and fifteen minutes. Thankfully, my home location in Gaithersburg is within 1-2 blocks of three level 2 charging stations. Two of these stations cost around 45 cents per kilowatt — which is comparable to present gas prices. Not ideal, but decent in a pinch. One of these stations is free.

So, already, looking at both Plugshare and work options, I have potential access to two free charging stations and two pay stations in rather convenient locations. Pretty cool. Now for the next step — fast charging. And here is where we start to differentiate between electric vehicles. For this evaluation, we will compare between Tesla Model 3 and all the rest. The reason? Chiefly that Tesla has its own massive national network of Superchargers.

The rest — Bolt, Leaf, Kona, Niro — are presently beholden to 50 kW charging in my area. This is due to internal vehicle fast charging ability and due to rated chargers nearby. Networks like CHAdeMO, EVgo, and Charge America, provide 5 such fast chargers within five miles of my home location. Pretty wide coverage and much better options than I’d originally anticipated. But not the same as…

(The Tesla Supercharger network of 12,888 chargers at 1,441 stations across North America provides a major, high tech support for clean energy drivers. Image source: Tesla.)

For Tesla we have the nearby Rio Supercharger which provides up to 120 kW charging at 12 stalls. Such chargers are about 1.5 to 2.5 times faster than the other fast chargers. And soon these chargers will be upgraded to the version 3 — which is rated at 250 kW. It’s worth noting that I couldn’t use this Supercharging station while ridesharing. However, fair use would let me Supercharge my clean energy vehicle 1-2 times per week here at the going rate of 28 to 32 cents per kilowatt. About 40 percent less than gas. Impressive, most impressive!

It’s worth noting that different vehicles are charged by different plugs. And, in total there are at least five plugs available. So any electric vehicle will probably need adapters to access the wider EV charging network. In general, though, most non Tesla vehicles can access non Tesla fast chargers without an adaptor. With an adaptor, Teslas can access both Superchargers and Fast Chargers while non Teslas cannot access the vast Supercharger network.

Overall, there are good charging options in my area. But the most potentially versatile EV for charging, among Bolt, Leaf, Model 3, Kona and Niro is again the Model 3. So it looks like we have a front-runner here.

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Thanks for joining me again! I hope this most recent blog was helpful and informative to you. If it was, please share widely! In addition, if you are interested in participating in clean rideshare to help fight climate change please consider using my Uber referral code ROBERTF3028UE. For the next blog, I’ll be making a big announcement. Hope to see you then!

 

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The Electrical Vehicle Revolution Keeps Expanding

While we often highlight the harmful impacts of fossil fuel burning in the form of ongoing crises like sea level rise and increasingly extreme weather, it’s important to keep shining a light on the fact that there are various climate change solutions available to us now. These solutions come in the form of policies and technologies presently at hand. A key solution being the ongoing renewable energy revolution.

A major aspect of this revolution is expanding access to clean energy vehicles and the high energy density batteries that drive their electric motors (see batteries will kill fossil fuels). Though we like to highlight the sustainability advantages of Tesla’s all-renewable business model, there are a number of other automakers who are also contributing. And these producers are manufacturing some increasingly kick-ass clean energy machines.

This widening field produces healthy competition between EV companies even as it results in greater overall appeal for electrical transportation in general. We covered Jaguar’s new I-Pace last week — which is a smaller competitor to the Model X (or maybe it’s not much of a competitor). But one that features high quality, a lower base price of around 70,000 dollars, (down from earlier estimates in the 80s) comparable range and rapid acceleration.

(Hyundai’s Kona SUV is expected to start selling in Europe, Korea and possibly the U.S. later this year.)

Another new high-quality, long-legged entry to the small EV SUV arena is the Hyundai Kona. Reported to have a range between 186 and 292 miles, the Kona is Hyundai’s second EV following the Ioniq. And it’s expected to launch in Europe and South Korea this spring to summer with a hopeful U.S. release for later this year. Like the I-Pace, it’s projected to sell about 20,000 units each year worldwide. But unlike the Jag and the X, it will probably have a sticker price that’s quite a bit lower than $70,000 to $100,000 (no firm word yet on cost). Though Hyundai recently poked fun at Tesla with a billboard, placing its hat in the ring as yet another ‘Tesla competitor,’ Kona is a smaller, slower SUV with a 0-60 acceleration of 9 seconds. But Kona’s sleek exterior and long range prove that you don’t have to travel at ludicrous speed to be attractive.

It’s worth adding that the increasing ranges and capabilities of these new gen EVs are quite compelling overall. The cars are a big jump forward and, in many respects, they’re better than the fossil fuel based vehicles they’re actually competing with (despite all the talk-talk about Tesla killers). Given the fact that billions and billions of dollars are presently being invested in EVs around the globe, we are likely to see a good many more high-quality EV models produced in a number of years.

(EV sales north of 16,000 during February [not yet illustrated] is a big jump that hints at a break-out year for U.S. electrical auto sales. Image source: Inside EVs.)

Not only are big automakers like Volkswagen and Porsche announcing new concept EVs with increasing frequency even as actual models keep coming out from an expanding list of companies, we also have all-electric start-ups jumping into the fray. Notably the China-backed NIO brand just made a $2 billion dollar IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. And, meanwhile, Dyson is backing its own electrical car division — with three clean energy autos on the drawing board so far.

The proliferation of EVs is already having a big impact on U.S. sales. Just during February of 2018, 16,489 electrical cars sold in the U.S. This is up considerably from the record 12,375 sold during the same month of 2017 and is even a big jump from earlier estimates near 14,000. One driver of this increase is rising Model 3 sales. But there’s also a nice fat tail coming in from the expanding number of high quality EVs selling in the range of 250 to 1,000 units per month.

The flow of new offerings from the clean energy revolution in autos is thus starting to look more and more like a fire-hose. And it’s about to get faster.

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