A big part of President Biden’s green plan to electrify motor vehicles is to spend $5 billion to create a national network of direct current fast chargers. Not that there aren’t a dozen other issues still to be faced, but the perception is that the inability to get your EV charged so that you can drive on a trip further than its current distance capacity is a huge drawback to people buying electric vehicle.
The taxpayer-funded charging network is a cornerstone of President Biden’s ambition to electrify America’s transportation sector.
- He wants half of all new cars sold to be electric by 2030 — but many car buyers won’t consider an EV without assurances that they’ll be able to charge quickly, especially on long road trips.
- The plan, which calls for installing up to 500,000 direct-current “fast chargers” along the nation’s most heavily traveled highways, could boost drivers’ confidence, EV advocates and policymakers say.
How long would it take to charge an EV at one of these taxpayer funded DC fast chargers? Apparently, between 15 and 45 minutes is the current estimate. Whether you’re prepared to sit at the Arby’s on the interstate for 45 minutes is one open question. No doubt some will argue that it’s not such a great burden to burn a few minutes to save the planet. Some will not be so patient. Even if the wait is only 15 minutes, it’s likely to prove to be too long for some. At a whopping 45 minutes, it’s likely to be too long for most people, an undue burden on a trip where travel time is a big deal.
But is this ripe for investment yet? Aside from the other issues that remain unresolved, from the cost of vehicles, battery life, repairability, city charging, vehicle lifespan, are we at the point where technology is sufficiently established that the infrastructure built today would be adequate 10 years from now? For those who find this an easy question, consider the transition from floppy disk, to diskette, to CD, to Zip, to thumb drive. Or we could use music or movies, at every stage the newest being the ultimate delivery mechanism, reaching the pinnacle of tech brilliance, all until the next gen came along an displaced it overnight.
Will this happen with charging? Will the next gen require entirely different infrastructire, or will the infrastructure built today constrain tech development in the future because it’s there already and has to be used?
Is this the right way to plan for an EV future, to build first and worry about whether it will work later? Move fast, break stuff? Chicken and egg? You have to start somewhere and this is as good, if not better, a place than any?
There is a cost associated with trying untried and potentially ill-considered changes for the future, particularly when they’re taxpayer funded. The issue isn’t whether the infrastructure should be taxpayer funded, although it’s not as if we don’t have gas stations now that are private owned as profit centers. If electrical charging were profitable, wouldn’t an enterprising woman build out the infrastructure and make a killing on juicing up your Tesla?
Or is this just another feel-good vagary that gives rise to the feeling of doing something about global warming for no wiser reason than to convey the feeling, as we’re still a ways off from being technologically ready to sink major investments into infrastructure for a future that, as of now, not many people want or need, and is not yet ready for prime time?
Will 45 minute “fast charging” make you run out and buy an EV? And where will the electricity come from that charges the car anyway?