Why you may only need to charge your EV once a week, or less

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Range anxiety? Most EVs would need to be charged less than once a week to meet the average daily commute of Australian drivers.

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Consumer perceptions and fears about the driving range of electric cars are often blamed as a major reason for ta lack of take-up, but a new report illustrates how those ideas are ill-founded.

The report from consultants LEK reveals that when comparing the battery life of popular models Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S against the average distance travelled per day, it was clear that the driving range of these models far outweighed the average distance travelled per day.

In Australia, the average commuter travels 38km/day, the report shows.

According to these figures, the LEAF (once available in Australia) would only have to be charged about once a week. A Tesla S owner on the other hand, would only need to plug in about once every 12 days.

(As it turns out, most EV owners would charge them daily in any case, because of the convenience of charging them when parked at home).

Of course, this disparity is based on consumers using their electric cars purely for daily commutes. It also suggests that early adopters of EV technologies are mostly charging at home, and are dual car households or short-range travellers.

Drivers who regularly make long distance trips naturally have to consider access to public charging stations in their travels though, and for this reason LEK. recommend funding of public charging infrastructure at key highway points should take priority over city charging stations.

Some states in Australia are embracing the development of publicly accessible charging stations. The ACT recently announced it will install 50 EV charging stations across the city, and in Western Australia the RAC Electric Highway provides 11 stations between Perth and the south west of the state. The completed Phase 1 of the Queensland Electric Super Highway now offers 18 stations along the coast from Coolangatta to Cairns.

But for EV drivers traversing the Kimberley, the three new charging stations installed along the 900km stretch between Kununurra and Derby may mean reliance on voluntary networks such as the Round Australia Electric Highway to fill the gaps.

While charging times for EV drivers on long distance trips may still not be desirable, one thing is clear – range anxiety for those commuting on short distance trips or in the city may no longer be a valid concern.

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13 Comments
  1. handbaskets'r'us 4 months ago

    Battery cost is, for the present, keeping the price of BEV’s fairly high.
    We tend to expect electric cars to give us the equivalent range of petrol or diesel.
    But as this article shows, a range of 150-200 kms. would be very suitable for the majority of commuters. That would bring the cost down considerably.
    I anticipate a number of very affordable EV’s coming soon.

    • David 4 months ago

      ..

    • Peter Campbell 4 months ago

      A range of 100km is more than enough for many people but such vehicles did not sell well. I think people realise that they rarely drive more than 50km but they double that just to be sure and decide that a 100km vehicle is not quite enough. However, a 200km vehicle they might just buy. Once they do that, they will come to understand that they bought much more battery than they needed. Eventually, I predict distinctly separate markets for cheap 100km town cars and more expensive, generally fancier cars with extra-urban multi-hundred km range.

  2. David 4 months ago

    It’s an interesting article, but, while I might only use the car every couple of days and generally stay local, with an EV that had a range of, maybe, 150 km and hadn’t been charged for 2 or 3 days, the 209 km, spur of the moment trip I needed to make yesterday simply would not have been possible.
    Even on a full charge, the older Nissan Leaf couldn’t have made that trip.
    I have family living in the country. I can do the round trip on one tank of petrol (with warnings and alarms going off as I approach the home driveway), I can’t, currently, do that trip in an EV… unless it’s a Tesla, which is out of reach, and with a stop at the one and only Supercharger between here and the relatives… or very long stops at slower chargers which are also scarce.
    Tip the argument on it’s head for a moment.
    If the average commuter only travels 38 km/day, why do ICE vehicles have 50 – 70+ litre fuel tanks? Why do cars have passenger seats when the majority of trips are single person journeys? Why does Mum dropping off 1 or 2 children at school need a 4WD tank?
    The answer is simple: It’s what people WANT, be it ICE or EV.

    • Ian 4 months ago

      Initially EV will try to match or emulate ICE, just as this article intimates, but eventually EVs will head off in their own design direction. Just look at the horseless carriages from the history books, they looked just like the name implies. Who knows how EV will change over time. The fun is in guessing what these changes will be.

      When you look at the model 3, it’s a fantastic copy of a high performance ICE, long bonnet, streamlined shape etc. Now have a look at the VW ID Buzz: this concept car can do what the original Combi could not – create space, lots of it. The only design criteria for the distance between the cabin and the bumper of the vehicle is safety, all the workings of the vehicle are located close to the wheels and the chassis. The electric drive motors can be quite small and can be arranged to drive each or all of the wheels – Tesla is planning a 4WD variant of the model 3 later.

      You talk about mum’s driving a large SUV to do the school drop offs. Maybe these people would opt for something that they can use for multi purposes, such as load the kids with their ebikes, surfboards, other toys, perhaps, convert the cabin space to office, camper etc etc and still have 4WD and performance, like the Toyota hiace or Nissan Elgrand.

      Many people have two or more cars per household, so cheaper plastic commuters with just enough battery life to give a day’s commute might become a thing. There are examples of shapes and sizes of these in the past, like the fortwo or the mini.

      Cities are sick and tired of vehicle congestion, but stuck with spread-out suburbs so you can imagine how different solutions will be sort for this conundrum, such as shared autonomous vehicles . We already have ebikes with fantastic range and ease of use. Cities have trialed all types of transportation to move people around without cars, and may turn to address the suburb transport issue: how to get people onto public transport/ shared transport near their homes.

      One advantage of EVs is a simple fact that there is no tailpipe. Tailpipes and tunnels do not go well together, but EVs and tunnels are like ducks on water.

      Many people commute ridiculous distances to work, and some just stay in the city for the work week and travel home for their days off , others chase contracts or part-time work in diverse places, still others ,perhaps in retirement or a sabbatical phase live nomadic lives. You can see the space maximising ability of EV to allow compact camper vans/ motor homes /Toy movers.

      These are just some of the possibilities for EVs to take off on their own design track outstripping the constraints of ICE vehicles.

      • Nick Kemp 4 months ago

        “Now have a look at the VW ID Buzz: this concept car can do what the original Combi could not – create space, lots of it. ”

        It can also do 0 to 100kmh in around 5 seconds Vs 5 minutes or so in the old kombis

      • Peter Campbell 4 months ago

        I predict that EVs will eventually diverge into two sorts: Larger, more expensive ones with multi-hundred km range and small, cheap, basic ones with about 100km. The latter will be used purely for local driving by people who already own or can borrow or hire a long-range vehicle.

    • Nick Kemp 4 months ago

      I understand your point – For me 300km of real word range probably is enough. That’s 3 or 4 hours driving and having an hour for lunch and a recharge after that doesn’t seem like a big deal.

      • ken 4 months ago

        That’s fine, as long as there weren’t too many others who wanted to lunch and charge up just a couple of minutes before you!

    • Peter F 4 months ago

      In Finland at parking spaces there is an electric plug to connect to the sump heater in your car and even run a very small fan heater inside to ensure that the engine oil still lubricates and your hands don’t freeze to the steering wheel. People basically get out of their car and plug it in whether at home or at work, eventually people will do the same with electric vehicles, therefore you don’t have the hassle of going to the service station so if the car is charged a little bit 10-20 times per week 100 km range would be more than enough for 80% of vehicles. Induction charging will make that even easier. Then for long trips either 5 minute charging may become viable or maybe you can call into a “service station” and rent either a long range car or possibly even a 30 kWh extender battery pack.

    • Wallace 4 months ago

      The cost difference between a two and a ten gallon gas tank is minimal. A larger tank means not only the range to take a long drive it also means fewer trips to a filling station. We’ve been driving ICEVs for over 100 years, it’s what we’re use to.

      Later on we’re likely to see the option of shorter range EVs and some people will buy them. Multi-car households could own one long range EV for trips and one or more short range EVs for normal daily driving. Plugging in at home or work/school is quicker and easier than filling the tank.

      Mom largely drives a 4WD tank because of perceived safety. Small cars are viewed as less safe. With EV crumple zones and anti-collision systems the ‘big is safer’ thing should fade away.

  3. Wallace 4 months ago

    “A Tesla S owner on the other hand, would only need to plug in about once every 12 days.”

    What that says is that EVs can be tremendous dispatchable loads if we work out a system to let utilities control time of charging. Dispatchable loads can be extremely beneficial in incorporating large amounts of wind and solar while minimizing storage. costs.

    Let each driver set their ‘daily minimum’. Some number of miles available when they leave for their daily routine. Utilities would probably chose to fully charge (80%) all EVs when W/S supplies are normal or higher. Then they could skip days when W/S were undersupplying.

    The day before, or a few days before, a long trip schedule a 100% charge for that day.

    In exchange for allowing the utility to determine charge time EV drivers would receive a low kWh rate.

    People who have a tendency to spontaneously take longer drives or who are paranoid about “control by the man” can pay more to charge. Whatever the TOU rate might be.

    We need to see that there are ample places to plug/charge during daylight hours as well as at night. Sunny places like Australia are likely to have lots of days with ample solar supplies. Having a place to sell any extra means that the utility can ‘overbuild’ based on other grid demand. And that means that there will be more days when solar, alone, meets demand.

  4. Patrick Comerford 4 months ago

    The way things are going in oz with EV availability it will be long time before any of us get to experience range anxiety.

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