EV Charging: Don’t Get Stuck in the Speed Trap

By Amy Barzdukas, CMO, WiTricity

The shift from traditional gas- and diesel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles is here – and it’s a huge shift in many ways. In fact, the last time we felt a vehicle transition shift of this magnitude, was the change from horse and buggy to the horseless carriage.

And, just like today, there were naysayers. One of the prevalent trains of thought was that by taking away the horse – and the horse sense that came with it – cars wouldn’t be safe. Drivers would have to pay attention to the road! (An interesting counterpoint to today’s concern about autonomy being unsafe because the driver isn’t paying attention.)

But this is just human nature: we understand new things by comparing to the things we already know. And right now, people know gas stations, so they want to make EV charging work the same way.

Can You “Logic” People Through a Paradigm Shift?

Once a new paradigm becomes dominant, the change is obvious. The key to managing a paradigm shift is time. People are comfortable with the status quo and get nervous about change. But when you start to think about it, you realize that trying to replicate the gas station model won’t really work. Sure, you need fast charging when going long distances, but for most city driving?

  • You can’t charge an EV in the same amount of time as you can charge a gas vehicle, which is 3-4 minutes. Even the fastest EV charger takes a lot longer to fully charge your vehicle.
  • If everyone were to charge their EVs as fast as possible, that would mean everyone used DC fast chargers (DCFC). And the grid would struggle mightily to keep up. The average US household uses 29.5 kWh ­per day. You can easily use that (or more) in a 30- minute session at a DCFC. If that charger were used just 20 hours out of any given 24, that would require 1,200 kWh – enough to power 40 homes.
  • Replicating the gas station model with fast chargers is an enormous undertaking – both in cost and infrastructure. Imagine all our cities being dug up, rewired, and then put back again to get expensive chargers on every corner where we have gas stations today.

Electricity is the Difference

The key difference between charging with electricity versus gas is that electricity, unlike gas, is safely delivered to most homes and workplaces. And what do cars do at home and at the workplace? They park. So, if you have a clean, safe supply of electricity at home and at work, that’s where most of the charging should happen: where the cars are already parked, for hours at a time.

What does it take to make people accept EVs as GREAT cars, not replacements for what they know?

It takes both experience and education. Our research found that battery range anxiety is common among people who don’t own an EV – 41% of EV Considerers are worried that they won’t be able to go as far as they need to go on a single charge. Conversely, those who have made the leap to EV ownership are 50% less likely to share that concern. EV Owners are also 50% less likely to worry about the time it takes to charge. Why? EV Owners report driving an average of 97 miles/day, which is well within the battery range of today’s EVs, and most (74%) charge at home.

The EV paradigm shift we need the market, customers, partners, and everyone to understand is that for most cars and drivers, bringing charging to where your car is parked – at night or at work – is a benefit rather than a problem. All charging does not need to be fast, faster, faster. That’s a speed trap we need to avoid.

Consumers are Ready

We’ve talked to many drivers – both owners of electric vehicles and those considering an EV. Overwhelmingly, they want to switch to electric (if they haven’t already). They also want wireless charging, but that’s for another blog post! Check out their stories in our two eBooks – Meet Your Consumer, Volume 1 and Volume 2 – where you can hear why they made – or want to make – a change from internal combustion/gas guzzling to electric vehicle.

We invited consumers – people who drive EVs and those considering an EV purchase – to share their stories. What led them to making an EV decision? What do they like about their EVs? They talked and we listened. These eBooks are an outgrowth of those discussions – each one a personal story. We were inspired by their stories and know you will be, too


Related Asset:

How You Charge Your EV Battery Matters