Fast Charging Electric Cars: How Much is it Worth?

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Portland CHAdeMO quick-charging station (publicly accessible)

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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