The Guardian discusses the chicken and egg challenge facing electric cars. Does the future of the electric car depend on public charging points?  

The great advantage of gasoline and diesel is that filling stations are ubiquitous and no matter where you drive you can always buy fuel for your vehicle.  Not so with electric cars.  At least not yet.  And a major concern of potential electric car buyers is the range factor.  How far will I be able to go on one charge?   Battery technology is not yet at the stage that it can mach the fuel range of  the internal combustion engine.

Automakers, according to this report, do not think this is a major impediment and that most people will be content recharging their vehicles overnight at home.  To cover themselves though, the car makers are also suggesting that the EV is a secondary or back up car and not the main household vehicle.  While some public charging stations are appearing in the UK, they are very few and far between and recent austerity measures by the UK government have axed plans for subsidizing a large EV charging network.  The typical charging station costs between £4,000-5000 to install.

And so the chicken and egg dilemma.  Buyers won’t buy unless they can reassure they can recharge their vehicles virtually anywhere and governments and private companies are finding it too expensive to build those recharging stations.  Which begs the question: will the electric car revolution ever materialize?

 

UPDATE

The following appeared at The Cost of Energy arguing that it is in the interests of competitive private sector companies as well as the public sector to provide EV charging stations for their customers e.g hotels, motels, stores and malls as well as publicly owned entities such as schools, hospitals, airports and government offices.

There is a gigantic incentive for hotels, schools, federal, state, county, and local governments, airports, malls, etc. to install free or reasonably priced chargers. Why? It’s simply a matter of competition: Would you want to lose or annoy customers who drive EVs? Of course not. And adding EV chargers costs almost nothing compared to adding and maintaining refueling facilities that deliver gasoline, natural gas, or hydrogen.

 

 UPDATE 2

Energy Efficiency News identifies three companies in the US which are investing in charging stations at their retail outlets.  Walgreens, IKEA and Walmart join the US Department of Energy and Washington State Department of Transportation in rolling out EV charging stations at store locations and along public highways.

 

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