How Fast Is Fast Enough

The folks over at Green Car Reports ran a Twitter poll to ask people how fast they thought charging needed to be to satisfy the mass market. Perhaps not surprisingly, most people (75%) wanted at least 250 miles of range in 15-20 minutes (and a third of that group wanted it to be faster than that).

This is, I believe, mostly perception. People who have driven ICE cars for years, and grown up with them, have as a mental benchmark the time it takes to fill the gas tank on their cars. If charging an EV was something that had to be done at a gas station, while you stood and watched it, then five minutes is too much. But that isn’t how EV users charge their cars. The one case where this matters is the long road trips, which are rare for most people, if they ever drive that far. For everyday life, being able to plug in at home and charge slowly overnight is more than adequate.

For those longer road trips, having a stop every three to four hours doesn’t seem that painful to me. I like to stop, grab a bite to eat and stretch my legs after that much time driving anyway. A 30 minute recharge would be no problem given that, with one huge proviso: you can get a charging spot when you get there. In my experience with public chargers, the issue is not how long they take to charge, but how long I have to wait before I can connect to one.

The fears about electric cars that I’ve heard are, in no particular order:

  • I wouldn’t know how to charge it
  • I would forget to charge it
  • What happens when the battery runs out

I do get asked how long it takes to charge our B Class, but when I tell people that I just plug it in once or twice a week when we get home in the evening, and the box on the wall charges it in under three hours while we sleep they seem less bothered by the time. It is actually less hassle than visiting a gas station, and you don’t run any risk of getting gasoline (or, worse, diesel) on your hands, clothing or shoes.

Even more amusing is their reaction when I tell them that sometimes I get lucky when I’m at our local mall and I recharge the car for free using a public charger in the parking lot there.

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