What exactly is needed for electric cars to become mainstream? It's a question the auto industry has been asking time and time again over the past few years. Over time, the answer has changed.
While electric car owners will likely tell you that the only thing they really need in order to live with an electric car is a power outlet in their garage, many EV skeptics and some auto industry experts have claimed that in order to hit the big time electric cars need extensive public infrastructure to support those driving plug in cars.
But it turns out that on a panel at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse Ctiy, MI, a team of industry professional agreed with the hundreds of electric car owners already out there.
Honda America's senior manager of environment and energy strategy, Robert Bienenfield, speaking at the panel, confirmed what many already knew.
"The vast majority of consumers are well-served by the driving range provided by the charging they can do at home. Very little charging is needed in the public sector."
So what of the scaremongering from those convinced that electric cars need charging points at every major parking lot and convenience store? What about the nightmare-scenarios of stranded EVs with no charge, cooked up in the height of a media paranoia surrounding range anxiety?
Element Charging Station
So, just how far can a single charge take you?
For those signed up to purchase the 2011 Nissan Leaf, the distance is around 100 miles.
For those with the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the range-per-charge drops to 40 miles. But with a range-extended generator on board, the Volt occupies a very strange place in the electric vehicle world, since it can function without a plug for an extended period of time.
Since most commutes are no more than about twenty miles at most, a 40-mile round-trip for work would leave the average Nissan Leaf owner with over 60 miles remaining for errands before and after work.
In short, driving 100 miles per day is unlikely for most consumers.
Perhaps with time, recharging places for electric vehicles away from the home will be viewed in the same way that public wi-fi Internet access points are today.
Some places have them, offering it free to paying customers. Others do not have the facility, and others try to charge a premium for the service.
And just like public wi-fi, public charging points won't be used for the full recharge cycle. They'll be opportunistic charging for those who feel they want to boost their car's range while they grab a coffee, or shop for groceries.
Ultimately, it's down to the companies and governments who decide to implement the infrastructure, but we know one thing for sure. If it's free, someone will want to use it.