This is a question for our time.
I decided the best way to find out what the world of electric vehicles (EV) was all about would be to dive into the pond. Trading in a sports car that I’ve enjoyed for the past few years for a one-year-old state-of-the-art electric vehicle a few weeks ago has been great fun. It’s also produced a considerable number of new insights and focused me on one of the fundamental issues everyone driving an EV of any kind must consider: range.
For every driving event, the question of having a sufficient battery charge to run the electric engines for the distance intended to travel is a consideration that receives, deservedly so, far more consideration than jumping into a combustion engine powered vehicle which passes by dozens of gas stations for just about any trip.
Let me say at the outset, I am extraordinarily pleased with the vehicle I now own. I should also say that this fundamental question of range is not new to me nor anyone else who has spent decades flying airplanes. The reason, every flight starts with a pre-flight calculation of how much fuel is onboard and whether or not that amount of fuel is sufficient to fly to the destination with a reserve onboard. It becomes second nature.
So, if you are prepared to think more like a pilot than all of us think as a driver of combustion powered vehicles, this experience should not produce the anxiety that some feel with EVs due to limitations around the number of modern charging facilities.
Back to the vehicles for a moment. The dealer I worked with made an interesting statement early in the process when he shared the thought that people no longer need to shop for just an EV; rather, they should search for the vehicle they wish to drive and then they can select one powered by electric engines.
Indeed, there are many EV choices from sports cars to pick-up trucks and everything in between. And, each of these comes with incredible technology and tools for successful travel between recharging.
But, the recharging element of owning an EV is a big deal. In my vehicle and most models, you enter your destination and receive an estimate of exactly how much capacity your battery will have upon reaching the destination. And, if you need to charge along the way, it will likely show you where charging stations along the route of your trip are located and even what type of charging is available.
Here is the breaking news: not all charging stations are created equal. It’s all about kW power. Said another way, if most gas stations filled your gas tank at the rate of a gallon an hour, but some could fill the tank in 30 minutes, you would probably prefer the latter rather the former. This is the reality with charging station technology. There are charging stations all over, but only a few charge at high or ultra-high rates. The charging station technology has evolved, and the networks are expanding to provide rapid charging, but not all areas have that many of the modern charging stations. And, here on the Eastern Shore, the high-rate charging stations are few and far between.
Yes, you can charge your vehicle at home. But you want to do it from a 240-volt source rather the 110-volt source, unless you have a day or two to fully charge your vehicle.
But, looking just at stations on a map charging at higher rates presents a different picture:So, what should one consider when thinking about the question of entering the world of EVs? Well, I asked that question of an objective AI source. Here is what was offered.
So, all this boils down to some prudent analysis. But there are lots of people who share their stories. My favorite so far came from a couple I met at a charging station in Frederick, Maryland. We had traveled there for lunch. We were pleased to discover that near a favorite Frederick restaurant was a charging station installed by a company called Electrify America. With a 150-kW charge, we were fully charged in about 20 minutes.
While we waited, the couple we met asked where we had traveled from. When they heard the Eastern Shore, they shared that they camped a lot with their vehicle and their favorite place to charge was in Vienna, Maryland, just south of Cambridge. Not only did they report there is high powered charging station, but it is located adjacent to a pie shop with the best Key Lime pie they’d ever tasted.
Of course, I could not help myself and made the short trip to check on the station and the pie. Both were “as advertised.” Remarkably, the small town of Vienna, Maryland had installed these state-of-the-art charging stations which proved very attractive to the pie shop and the town of just a couple hundred residents.
So, I conclude with a plea to organizations here on the Eastern Shore: we do not have many of these modern, high powered charging stations; but they are both needed and increasingly attractive to the growing number of travelers who will plan trips to destinations where their vehicles are rejuvenated rapidly while they enjoy a meal or visit one of our many great destinations. Having been slow to add charging stations in the region could be an advantage as governments and other organizations can now leapfrog ahead to offer what is currently available to those of us who have gone all EV.
Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore.
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