Range Confidence: Charge Fast, Drive Far, with your Electric Car

By David Herron

Range Confidence: Charge Fast, Drive Far, on Electricity

We're in the middle of the first steps of reinventing the transportation system. We collectively have slightly over 100 years of cultural experience with gasoline (and diesel) fueled machines dominating the roads. For a long list of problems too numerous to name here, we need to quickly switch away from all fossil fuels to renewably sourced electricity as the primary fuel/energy.[FossilFuelGiftsPoisons] It means we need to relearn what's normal, adopting cleaner new ways of living, such as how our cars are fueled.

The need to switch fuel types to electricity is strong, but the process of making that switch is (so far) slow. It's a complex problem, akin to changing the engine on an airplane that's in-flight. It means convincing a large number of people to change, when their thinking is affected by 100+ years of fossil fuels. Understandably most people find it hard to change, but the climate (and other issues) say we must.

This book aims to explore how to best handle recharging electric cars, with an eye to driving electric to any destination. The more we drive electric the bigger the impact, and the climate is telling us in no uncertain terms that a huge change is required.

Many say the problems with recharging electric cars make them too limited. Road trips are impossible because electric car driving range is too short. We should only drive electric within a short radius of home, if at all. Any real travel, even as little as a 200 mile trip, has to be done with a gasoline car. As everyone knows, gasoline is the only real way to drive.

Reality, anyone? What makes those ideas seem true is the 100+ years of familiarity we all have. Electric vehicles can handle driving any distance, with enough charging infrastructure. The real difference between an electric and gasoline car is the refueling infrastructure. A gasoline car can be just as stuck, out of fuel, on the side of the road.

Intrepid electric car drivers have taken long electric trips. With enough dedication even someone driving a 2011 Nissan Leaf (fast DC charging, but slow 3 kiloWatt AC charging) was able to drive from Baja California to British Columbia, in 2012. The Tesla Supercharger network has made taking long range electric trips simple. As the 200+ mile range electric cars come on the market, the rest of us will be able to do electric road trips. If the charging companies step up to the plate.

With today's electric charging it's not feasible to just set off on a long range electric trip with no planning, like you'd do with a gasoline car. Unless, that is, you have a Tesla automobile and are driving along routes with Supercharger facilities. Pragmatism cautions us to spend some time learning and planning.

One key is developing the Range Confidence mindset, rather than remain stuck in Range Anxiety. With Range Confidence we know what our car is capable of and can freely drive within an area defined by its limits and the limits of the charging network. With Range Confidence we know where we can drive, and what it will take to get there. With Range Confidence, we know when to bite the bullet and drive on gasoline, and when its safe to drive on electricity. Range Confidence does more to solve Range Anxiety fears than anything else.

We've collectively grown up surrounded by cars promising the freedom to drive everywhere on a wide-open highway. We've been convinced we need 300+ miles of range and a five minute recharge at ubiquitous fuel stations. By that measure electric cars are indeed limited. But, consider the luxury of a car that's always fully fueled every morning, and is recharged at home. A car with which you rarely go out of your way to find a refueling station, and that covers the majority of your real driving needs.

Which would you rather have? With gasoline cars you must hunt for a gasoline station every few days. With electric, it's fully refueled every morning, and has enough range to handle the typical commute. Plus, electricity as a fuel is vastly cheaper than gasoline.

The range anxiety bugaboo is pushed by some who have a monetary motive. Oil companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to keep making profits. That's a clear motive to find ways to keep us buying their oil products, and their profits gives them the means to spread the range anxiety message.

The truth is that electricity is a perfectly fine vehicle fuel. Given sufficiently available electricity we can travel anywhere. The Tesla Supercharger network abundantly demonstrates this fact, since owners of Tesla's automobiles routinely make cross country trips hopping from one Supercharger station to the next.

The more we drive electric the more benefit we all get. With range confidence we'll drive electric more often, and on longer trips. Because electricity is a cheaper fuel than gasoline, the more we drive the more we'll save, and the savings can be enough to pay for the price premium.

That's what we'll be talking about in this book, developing range confidence, gaining better skills in using the public charging infrastructure, and more.


Range Confidence is Copyright © 2016-17 by David Herron

Range Confidence: Charge Fast, Drive Far, on Electricity

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