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The Basement
22 Apr 2023

NextImg:Charge Lines - EPautos - Libertarian Car Talk

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Back in the ’70s, there were gas lines – caused by gas shortages. Which were caused not by a shortage of gas but by politics. The federal government annoyed the foreign powers that controlled much of the world’s supply of oil via the cartel called OPEC – the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – many of which were Arabic. Richard Nixon’s policies regarding them (and Israel) were met by the Arabs with embargoes, which led to the shortages – and the lines.

These often stretched around the block. People sat for hours to get some gas – sometimes running out of gas while they waited to get it.

How long will people be waiting for a charge?

It could be even longer – and in more than just the obvious sense.

That being it always – and necessarily – takes longer to charge an electric car than it does to fuel up a gas (or diesel) powered car. Even if there isn’t a line, you will get to wait. Fifteen minutes at the least – for a little charge. You might get 80 percent charge after about thirty minutes at the “fastest” chargers.

That’s a long time to have to wait, unless you’re in no hurry to get to work. Or home. Or wherever you need to be.

You’ll wait twice as long as 15-30 minutes if there’s even one car ahead of you, already using the “pump.” Fifteen minutes becomes thirty – and thirty becomes an hour. And because your electric car doesn’t go very far to begin with – the majority of them have fully charged ranges of less than 300 miles, which makes them as functionally “hoggy” of energy as a V8 powered SUV is of gas the problem is compounded by having to stop more often. Back in the ’70s, the owner of a Honda Civic CVCC might only have to wait in line for gas once a week. But the owner of the typical EV with a best-case range of 270-300 miles or so (which is most of them) will probably be waiting at least twice a week.

This latter will further compound the problem in that more EVs needing to stop more frequently for a charge will mean longer lines – and even longer waits.

The gas lines of the ’70s were only long because there were so many cars waiting for gas. Not because it took so much time to get the gas into the cars.

Think of the throughput – and pack a lunch.

Each car in line for gas needs maybe five minutes at the pump – to get a full tank. That means the car next in line can be fueling up five minutes later. The car behind that car gets filled up ten minutes later. Even if you are fourth in line, you’ll be at the pump within 15 minutes or so. Probably sooner, because there are rarely lines in the first place.

A single gas pump can fuel about five vehicles in the space of 30 minutes. This is about five times as many electric cars that can be partially charged (to 80 percent – or 20 percent “empty”) at the “fastest” chargers.

Put another way, it would take at least five times as many EV “fast” chargers to get as many EVs back on the road (less 20 percent of their fully charged range) within half an hour as it takes to get the same number of non-electric cars fully gassed up and back on the road in the same timeframe.

So, unless the number of EV “fast” chargers is increased by a factor of five relative to the number of gas pumps, the lines that will be forming are going to be a lot longer – and so will the waits. Each EV that pulls into line adds five times the wait (relative to how long it takes to fill up). If you are sixth in line for a charge, you could literally be waiting all day and possibly, until tomorrow.

Also, good luck pushing your EV to the “pump” if you run out of power before you can pull up to it. A small EV such as a Tesla 3 weighs about three times as much as a ’70s Beetle, which it was possible for one man to push to the pump if it ran out of gas while he was waiting in line to get some. It is impossible for anyone to push an electric car – and not just because it’s so heavy. Electric cars do not have neutral – because they don’t have transmissions. The drive motors connect directly to the drive wheels and even young Arnold Schwarzennegger couldn’t budge one.

The only move under power.

But the real problem is that the lines we’ll soon be waiting in aren’t artificial and so a temporary inconvenience, as they were in the ’70s.

There was (and is) plenty of gas. Back in the ’70s, it was merely a case of the abundant supply being withheld. Even if there were plenty of electricity – and there isn’t – no amount of electricity can obviate the physics of drawing it into a battery. This is something that takes time. Or rather,  a lot more time than it takes to pump gas into an empty tank. It is not something that can be done “faster” than much slower than it takes to pump gas into a tank.

Ergo, the problem – or rather, the hassle – cannot be ameliorated by an increase in the supply of electricity, even though no effort is being put toward that end, either. 

It could be free and it would still cost – in terms of the time it takes to transfer it from high-voltage DC charge apparatus to high-voltage EV battery pack. Even the every “fastest” charging prophesied will take at least twice as long (ten minutes) as it takes to fill up a non-electric car’s tank.

Now multiply that.

How many “fast” chargers will have to be built to avoid having to wait – not for your charge but for the guy ahead of you to finish getting his? Twenty minutes? Assuming it only takes 10 minutes for two of you to charge up. More like an hour – or two.

Just for the two of you.

. . .

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