How important is fast-charging to sell electric cars? Poll results

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Feb 1, 2017

John Voelcker

Those unfamiliar with electric cars often don’t know that several different types of battery charging exist.

Overnight recharging at home can be done either with 120-volt household current or, for longer-range cars, with a 240-volt charging station installed by the car owner.

Then there’s DC fast charging, which generally provides an 80-percent recharge of the battery in roughly half an hour.

The Tesla Supercharger network is the clear model for fast-charging stations on major highways that permit long-distance travel in battery-electric cars.
Supercharger sites now make it possible to drive a Tesla Model S or Model X coast to coast in just slightly more time than a similar trip in a gasoline or diesel car.
So how important is fast charging to the selection of a plug-in electric car?
We asked our Twitter followers that question, and the results were fairly definitive.
A total of 85 percent of the survey respondents said the availability of fast charging was “quite important” (56 percent) or “the most important factor” (29 percent) in the selection of an electric car.
It was “a factor,” but “not [a] major one” for another 13 percent of participants.
And a scant 2 percent said fast-charging availability was “not very important.”
The challenge for electric-car makers then becomes explaining to first-time buyers and shoppers what fast charging is, how it differs from slower charging methods, and how to find it (smartphone apps, mostly).
Or, in some cases, why there are three different fast-charging standards (CHAdeMO, CCS, and Supercharger).

Tesla Supercharger network, North American coverage – March 2015
And why sites that offer the first two are from a variety of outlets, often require membership in a variety of different networks, may or may not cost money, and are far from universal.
While the earliest U.S. fast-charging sites are now roughly five years old, the networks remain very much a work in progress, with little effective nationwide roaming and wide gaps in less dense parts of the country.

It is to be hoped those factors abate over the next few years, no doubt helped by the $2 billion that VW Group has pledged to spend on public charging infrastructure—most of which will likely be fast charging.
Because, as our poll underscores decisively, fast charging is crucial to the success of plug-in electric cars.
Get the message, automakers?

READ THIS: BMW, Nissan fund EVgo fast-charging network expansion: 670 dual-standard sites open

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About The Author - Jeremy Smithson

Started Puget Sound Solar in 2001 with 30 years of construction contracting experience, and a desire to turn Seattle on to solar energy. Achieving NABCEP certification in 2004, Jeremy believes that our customers often follow a path similar to the one he took, starting out with solar daydreaming, then progressing to education on the subject, and eventually leading to action. In addition to leading the company he also does some teaching and speaking engagements about various aspects of solar energy, and experiments relentlessly with various solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle projects.

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