As cities plan for charging EVs,
VOL. 25, nO. 5
Plug In America has some advice
based on long experience.
By DaniEl DaviDS
Mainstream electric vehicles (eV) from General Motors and nissan arenowrollingoutofdealershow- rooms, with more plug-ins due
from Ford and Mitsubishi by year’s end. On April
13, Assistant energy Secretary David Sandalow
told the Society of Automotive engineers that
the industry is on target to put a million eVs
on American roads by 2015. In this burgeoning
market, the need for public recharging stations
has begun to make an impact among municipal
officials and corporate planners.
We have some advice for them. We, the nonprofit organization Plug In America, have been
advocating for the electrification of our transportation system for the better part of a decade, and
we’ve learned a lot about what eV drivers need.
Most of our members began driving eVs
when the first wave of modern electric cars
hit the road under California’s Zero emission
Vehicle (ZeV) mandate, which was in effect
between 1997 and 2003. While the original
ZeV program encouraged installation of battery-charging infrastructure, most charging stations
were installed at home locations, with roughly
another 1,300 public stations across California.
Most of these public stations are still in use,
maintained by volunteers from the electric Auto
A number of things have changed since
2003. First, automaker and industry groups
have agreed on a common charging plug
under SAe International standard j1772. All
new eVs should be able to plug into any new
charging station. The industry refers to the
new chargers as eVSe (electric vehicle supply
equipment). eV drivers consider this a huge
improvement over systems used in the past.
But as manufacturers ramp up to large-scale
production, we’re about to experience some
interesting times on the installation side.
Daniel Davids is president of Plug In America
( pluginamerica.org). The organization has been at
once controversial and luminary about the role EVs
can play in reducing our dependence on oil, improving our economy and protecting the environment.
Today, Plug In America can fairly take a good deal
of credit for getting new plug-in vehicles back on
about among media, government bureaucracies
and eVSe startups. The idea is that consumers worry whether they’ll have enough battery
capacity to get back home. The implication is
that without rapid and widespread installation
of public charging stations, no one will want to
drive an eV. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem.
In reality, experienced eV drivers don’t face
range anxiety any more than an airline pilot does
when she flies her jet from A to B. “We don’t
have a chicken-and-egg problem,” says Plug In
America Co-founder Marc Geller. “We have a
In other words, the only thing that has
been keeping any of us from driving eVs has
been that the automakers simply weren’t mak-
ing any of the damn things. I’ve driven my
all-electric Toyota RAV4 for more than four
years in Seattle, without access to any public
charging infrastructure whatsoever. I put a
thousand miles a month on it, never once
coming close to running out of juice. If there
were public charging stations available to my
car, and if they were located in useful spots,
I’d probably drive it 10 to 20 percent farther,
widening my operational radius.
Copyright © 2011 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
The Myth of Range Anxiety
“Range anxiety” is a concept much fretted
solartoday.org SOLAR TODA Y June 2011 29
Who Pays for Charging?
except for a very few locations that charge
for parking, all of California’s legacy charging
stations are free to users. Many of today’s eVSe