5 Facts About Electric Vehicle Charging

The Real Deal

Today, zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) are seen as an ideal way to satisfy society’s conscious efforts to go green. In the eyes of a growing number of people, electric vehicles (EVs) running on rechargeable batteries are a big part of that plan. However, even if electric vehicles become more affordable and offer greater functionality, they will need an infrastructure for recharging their batteries to make their use convenient.

New Competition Among Alternative Energies

The newly emerging fuel cell technologies are vying with battery electric vehicles for a place among zero emission options. This could eventually take place as fuel cell and hydrogen storage costs come down, but by all indications this is years away. Battery costs appear to be decreasing even as technology is improving, which in tandem with automaker announcements of coming electric models means these electric drive cars could make their way to showrooms in larger numbers soon.

Plugged into the Grid

EVs run on battery power, replenished through standard electric outlets with energy generated by electric utilities. Primary charging locations are at residences, businesses, or where fleet vehicles are stored. Public charging sites are uncommon, although they did grow in numbers when electric vehicles were being test marketed by multiple automakers in the 1990s. Both 110 and 220 volt chargers are used, with 200 volt chargers recharging an electric car’s batteries much faster.

Charging Costs Less than Gas

Recharging a typical electric vehicle battery from near-total discharge to full charge takes four to eight hours, with most EV driver charging overnight. Some utilities have offered breaks on electricity used for charging that factor in a ‘time-of-use’ provision for cars charged at night when electrical demand is less. Allowing for about five cents per kilowatt-hour, an average EV recharge could cost less than $1 per day. Utilities say that even if many thousands of EVs all charged at once, it would use only a relatively small amount of power that would not overtax electricity supply.

California Leads the Way

In California, which has led the way in EV commercialization in the past, charging stations are more plentiful than in other states. They are usually located in city or store parking lots, at hotels and airports, and at various businesses. Charging is generally free or cheap, and additional incentives like free parking is sometimes also offered.

Wendy Clem is a Michigan-based writer/photographer providing material for newspapers, magazines, and online – locally, regionally, and nationally. Her syndicated auto column for Avanti NewsFeatures has appeared in 400 national markets, and her online how-to articles serve an international audience. Wendy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in journalism from Detroit’s Wayne State University.