From trickle to superfast: Tales of charging

This article is may not be what you would expect. This is not an explanation or an in-depth analysis on the various types of charging. Neither is the DC Combo compared against the AC Fast Charger or are differences scrutinized between home charging, public charging and workplace charging. Also, this is not an introduction to the advantages of Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3, or a technical discussion on the efficiency of direct charging, inductive charging or dynamic charging. Nope, none of this all.

This weblog tries to unlock the stories behind charging and why people are making certain choices. But, then again without the great variety of charging options there wouldn’t be any stories or tales to tell. So sit down, buckle up and get ready for some “discourse charging”.

“It is like a game” Charging

Bed-and-breakfast owner Brion Sprinsock who offers his customers over-night charging for free, is pretty clear about it. Brion, proud of his 2009 converted Plug-In Prius and his 2011 Leaf, needs no ultra-super-uber-fast charging. No, he prefers “trickle charging”, in fact he believes it keeps the fun in the game. “I know I have only 30 miles full electric on my Prius, so what I do is, I plan ahead where I am going. And, actually I’ll be more relaxed. If it doesn’t fit in the range today, I will ask myself why can’t it wait till tomorrow, because I hate it when the gas engine of the Prius has to kick in. For me it is like a game”.

Universities all over the world are trying to find out the best charging infrastructure that would fit the needs of day-to day users. In order to not jump too fast to conclusions and unintentionally making the wrong choices, it is wise to look around, to see what works, what doesn’t and WHY?. And, this is exactly what Dahlia Garas of the PH&EV Center at UCDavis decided to do when visiting the wirelessly charged e-bus of PROOV in The Netherlands: “Didn’t know this was up and running already and that the TCO of these buses can help bring down the cost for concession owners. My knowledge just got a charge!”.

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UCDavis visits Den Bosch to have a look at prize winning e-bus concept

“I need coffee” Charging

Bill doesn’t need to charge today. It’s a Sunday morning with no particular place go and plenty of battery power left on his Signature Series. He tops off at home or at work; he’s fine with nearly 300 miles to burn. “Sorry”, he says, “gotta go now. Actually, I do need a charge…a coffee charge at Lulu’s”.

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Model S patiently waiting for its owner to get caffeine charged

“Setting the example” Charging

Last week all participating local governments of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region Electric Coalition were impressed with the example that the Dutch city of Zaanstad is setting: solar panel on their roof feeding into a micro-grid charging their 25 EV’s in the garage. So far, they didn’t need a single kilowatt from the utility company to charge their widely used EV fleet.

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Leading by example, making Zaanstad proud

“I’ll share with you” versus “Just-do-it” Charging

As the number of EV’s can suddenly outnumber public chargers available, drivers will have to share. Question is will they do that and if so how? Will they have a modern app on their smartphones informing them what the best procedure is or will they use social media to make arrangements or just leave a note “Please forgive me but I needed a charge NOW and I saw that you were at 75%. Call me if you think I misjudged and I’ll share a glass of wine; if not, just know wine’s available anyway”. Just a note between a Nissan Leaf owner and a ZERO DS owner in coastal town of Santa Cruz.

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A Nissan Leaf and a ZERO motorcycle sharing the charger

Maybe more the Dutch way: in a Haarlem parking garage no hippie-like notes to be found. Rather, clear cut just-do-it action: just unplug, get a little frustration going, complain and see what happens. As result the City of Haarlem will soon double the charging capacity.

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Not enough outlets for two Leaf’s, a Prius and a Volt in a Haarlem parking garage

“Transition” Charging

Victor Okendo is a cool guy. Always drove himself an F-150. In fact, he did so until a couple of months ago when he turned in his good-old pickup truck for a Black Model S 85kW. Quite a transition but as an engineer he couldn’t be more happy getting his Tesla out today to have rear seats installed for his kids and have it fully supercharged at the Gilroy Outlet Center. He deeply feels he is making a commitment to a cleaner and better world, making a personal transition. And, by the way, he loves driving it too!

When observing the various personal reasons for using a certain charging option, it would seem that there is not “one single silver bullet” for today’s user or policy maker: it depends on the driving habits but also on the car itself, the attitude, the common culture, perceived needs, etc. In fact, this article would argue that the charging solution of tomorrow may very well depend on stories like these. So, get the stories and you may end up making the right charging infrastructure choices!

On behalf of the Coast to Coast E-Mobility Connection,
Dr. Peter van Deventer, Program Manager

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The author hoping maybe one day soon…

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