Fast Charging Electric Cars: How Much is it Worth?

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Portland CHAdeMO quick-charging station (publicly accessible)

Portland CHAdeMO quick-charging station (publicly accessible)

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Ask any electric car owner to name the benefits of owning an electric car and the ability to leave your house every morning with a ‘full tank’ is likely to be at the top of their list, followed closely by the fact that most electric cars can provide enough range to last more than a day’s worth of driving. 

But what happens when you need to charge up more than once in a day? And just how much would you pay to speed that charging up?  

According to a study published earlier by the University of Delaware, consumers would be willing to pay an additional $3,250 premium per hour of charging time saved when buying an electric car capable of accepting 50 miles worth of charge on in 10 minutes from an external high-power charging station. 

Scenes from dedication of electric-car charging station at Creekside Inn, Palo Alto, CA

Scenes from dedication of electric-car charging station at Creekside Inn, Palo Alto, CA

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For the study a selection of 3,000 people were asked just how much they would be willing to pay per hour decrease of charging time in an electric car. 

Using a figure of 10 hours for a 50 mile recharge using a standard 110V outlet as a starting point, the researchers concluded that consumers would be willing to pay between $427 and $3,250 for every hour reduction in charging time on a new electric car. 

In other words, consumers would pay as much as $3,250 as a premium on top of sticker price for an optional extra capable of allowing a 50 mile recharge in 10 minutes, showing that most consumers value their own time and convenience of a rapid charge over a slower level 1 or 2 overnight recharge. 

This will come as no shock to Nissan, whose 2011 Leaf currently ships with the option of a $770 rapid charge port capable of recharging its 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack from empty to 80% full in a little over 20 minutes. 

Sign on Vacaville, California, DC fast charger for electric cars, May 2011

Sign on Vacaville, California, DC fast charger for electric cars, May 2011

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As we discovered last week however, the U.S. auto industry has officially turned down the pre-existing ChAdeMO rapid charge hardware responsible for the Leaf’s 20-minute rapid charge time in favor of a new standard which has yet to even be agreed on. 

Given that rapid charging times seem extremely important to potential electric car consumers we have to ask if this decision was a major mistake, since a replacement standard for rapid charging is unlikely to be implemented for several years. 

In the meantime, it appears that not only purchase price but also recharge times could hamper mainstream adoption of electric cars by those convinced that they require cars capable of more than 100 miles of range a day, despite evidence to suggest the average electric car trip is only 8.5 miles per journey, and that the average daily commute is less than 32 miles. 

Do consumers need educating about the reality of owning an electric car and recharging times, or is rapid charging a must-have for your electric car? Let us know in the Comments  below. 

[University of Delaware via Earthtimes]

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Comments (17)
  1. i did pay for the L3 port knowing that i would only use it at most a few times a year. as of now, i have only charged at 120 volts and it has done well to serve my needs. in fact, i only charge about 5 days a week. now i have the modified EVSE that will charge at 240 volts and that will make the car all that more convenient, but the more i look at the convenience of quick charging verses the issues of battery longevity the more i feel that Better Place will ultimately provide the most acceptable solution for mainstream EV users

  2. I don't see where there are going to be enough rapid charging stations out there to make any difference any time soon. Hence the Volt! #1756

  3. I think it was smart of SAE and the American auto industry to insist on a single connector for both L2 and L3 charging. Having a searate Chademo connector for L3 doesn't make a lot of sense.
    However, now that they have made that decision, SAE had better come up with something quickly. There are already a lot of LEAFs selling and the Focus EV is coming out in a couple of months. The last thing the auto industry needs is any more confusion surrounding EV adoption because they can't get their standards together.

  4. Considering all the baloney Obama has spouted about "infrastructure" you'd think this guy would have enough brains to question exactly what kind of charging stations are all those hundreds of millions are actually buying. Establishing standards is one of the few proper functions of a government, but it never seems to happen. It always get tossed over to the manufacturer groups. There's no payoff (monetary or votes) to be gained from this kind of task, so it simply doesn't get done. Your represetative govt in action. Well, inaction. Incompetents.

  5. I own a 2002 ford think for the past 2 years I have been driving an average 13 miles from my home location and only use a level 1 charging without being stranded I have increase the speed on the vehicle to 33 Mph on AGM batteries and I use the vehicle 6 days a week. I think if you are using the vehicle normal daily use like most of us do from shopping around neighborhood rapid is not really needed.

  6. My bicycle doesn't need fast-charging. :)

  7. I think the delay is intentional on the part of the US industry. Neither Ford nor GM have an electric vehicle capable of Level 3 charging, so delaying a standard charger will slow the adoption in the US of EV's that do offer the capability and give them a chance to catch up...
    But it will also put the US behind the rest of the world in EV adoption. It is time for the people setting the standards to do what is best for the country, rather than just what is best for Detroit.

  8. I keep hearing this over and over again, that commutes ARE ON AVERAGE, this much or that much...
    But that's EXACTLY why electrics will be a tough sell. Because we don't buy a car for averages. There are those days when you need to run here, then there, extra trips. Happens all the time.
    Life is full of surprises no matter how much planning you do and you need to be able to get somewhere.
    A fully fueled petrol car will get 300-400 miles, more than enough for what life throws at you. And without the compromises of only going 55 mph, limiting the climate control and avoiding hills just to get 70 miles of range.
    It's so obvious to everyone except EVangelists. A car with a 70 mile range is not practical, short commute or not.

  9. #9 Bert - See #2, LOL.

  10. @ Bret
    "I think it was smart of SAE and the American auto industry to insist on a single connector for both L2 and L3 charging. Having a searate Chademo connector for L3 doesn't make a lot of sense."
    Of course if they were truly smart, they would have gone with this:

  11. This Mennekes connector looks pretty good Doug. I wonder why the SAE can't just bless it and move on. I know they have to go through a process, but it seems like some feet are dragging.

  12. I keep hearing about these "rapid" chargers that take a half hour. If there ever were a misnomer, rapid charger is it.
    I don't consider 20-30 minutes "rapid" by any stretch and neither will the general public. My time is worth more than that.
    Especially when at the end of waiting for a half hour, you only get another measly 70 miles.

  13. You get 80 miles after 30 min of charging, and 100 miles per full charge. Where are you getting the 70 mile figure?
    And if you need that much range, get a Model S with the 300 mile pack. It's swappable at Better Place switch stations in under 2 minutes.
    Something tells me nothing will satisfy you though, and you just hate EVs.

  14. I wouldn't put much faith in that willingness to pay survey. These are notoriously inaccurate.
    A big problem with really fast charging is that the power levels are much higher (huge) than those needed to propel the vehcle. This has a profound effect on the requirements and design of the battery and charging equipment, not to mention the effect on local electricity distribution from a filling station that can peak at several MW and then drop off to zero a few minutes later. I suspect that this becoming widespread is about as likely as hydrogen fool cells usurping batteries in EVs.
    The night charge and battery swap model makes a lot more sense.

  15. No, Bob, I don't "hate" inanimate objects. And 80-100 miles would be with no climate control, going no more than 55 on level ground.
    See, there's all these conditions and compromises to see any decent mileage out of an EV. I've heard suggestions of "don't turn on the A/C or heat" even though it's hot or cold out. Try going 70 mph on the freeway with the air or heat on and see if you get 80-100 miles.
    So now you can't even use normal comfort features of the car. LOL.
    Oh yea, and I'll just whip out $100,000+ from my change cup. And what "Better Place" location would that be to swap batteries? Where?
    Impractical, overpriced, one trick ponies. You guys bought the Salad Shooter, too...right?

  16. @ Bruce Armstrong #15:
    The current generation of fast charging stations charges at about 50kw. That's a draw on the grid equivalent to about a small business running during the day. Not trivial, but not the grid-busting "several MW" that you suggest.
    50-100kw is also well within the ability of grid operators to compensate for, and T&D companies price their services accordingly. Here in TX, the owner of a fast-charging station that draws 50kw pays about $500 a month for the privilege of being able to draw that much power on demand - whether anyone uses the station that month or not.

  17. @ Bert #16:
    You may find this link of actual ranges for the Leaf under a variety of conditions (including worst-case) interesting. To save you time, the range falls to a minimum of 62 miles only under heavy traffic in 14 degree weather with the heat on. That's 4 hours of driving time.
    In the floating menu on the left, click on "Range" and then "The Basics."

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