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

By David Herron

What happens if an electric vehicle runs out of power in a city with no charging stations?

There are unfortunately many cities with no electric car charging stations. The global charging network is being built rapidly, but unevenly. Some cities do not, for whatever reason, have much or any charging stations, while a neighboring city has plenty of electric car charging stations. What do you do, then, if you find yourself driving an electric car into a city with no charging stations?

For example, why does the Pennsylvania Turnpike not have any fast charging stations? (um... as of June 2018 there are a couple Pennsylvania Turnpike Service Areas with charging stations, but by no means all of them)

For example you might want to drive electric from Columbus Ohio to Cleveland Ohio but not have the range and the lack of fast charging along the route can stop you from proceeding. Hopefully you'll check the charging station maps before heading out, and determine whether or not your driving route is sufficiently covered by charging stations.

Plenty of gasser car drivers who run out of gasoline. Therefore the problem is not unique to electric car drivers. Obviously a few electric car drivers will end up without power in an area with no charging stations.

A wise electric car driver quickly learns how to avoid running out of power. They plan ahead, by checking charging station maps, and are very unlikely to get stuck. See:

Enough introduction, what do you do?

Are there any cities that lack electricity? Electricity is available pretty much everywhere in these modern times.

If you are truly stuck, the first thing is to ask around for an electricity outlet.

An example comes from the travels of Terry Hershner, an avid electric motorcycle rider who specializes in long distance travel on electric motorcycles. Since 2012 he's undertaken several cross-country trips on electric motorcycles. Back then the charging network had much larger gaps than it does in 2018. Getting across the American Southwest, a.k.a. West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the California deserts, took dedication. Terry's motorcycle did not have enough range to make it across some of the gaps along that route. But he made sure to carry enough electrical adapters to allow charging at any convenient power outlet. The power outlet might be at a laundromat - because industrial-sized electric dryers run on 240 volt 50 amp outlets, or the outlet might be at a machine shop - because industrial-sized fabrication or welding equipment also runs on 240 volt 50 amp outlets.

This solution requires carrying your own charging station. Portable high-power charging stations exist, and allow a 6 kiloWatt charging rate at 240 volt 50 amp power outlets. See: Choosing the best electric car charging stations for home charging or on trips

A couple hours charging at a 6 kiloWatt rate should be enough to get you further down the road to a locale where charging stations exist. See: Charging levels - Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast Charging, etc

The next step is that often you'll need an extension cord or power adapters to connect with the variety of power outlets out there. It's necessary to constrain the charging rate to the capacity of the power outlet you find, and to adapt your portable charging station to the power outlet.

Range Confidence is Copyright © 2016-17 by David Herron

What happens if an electric vehicle runs out of power in a city with no charging stations?

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