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Do We Need Public Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?

Public-Access Electric Vehicle Charger Not Needed, Says BMW Exec.
Public-Access Electric Vehicle Charger Not Needed, Says BMW Exec.

Electric vehicles have limitations, there’s no getting around it, but what is it, exactly, that makes an electric vehicle easier to adopt?

The Tesla Motors model for making electric vehicles easier to adopt seems to involve two lines of thought. First, Tesla Model S’ 85 kWh battery delivers the most range available in any electric vehicle on the market. Second, the expanding Tesla Supercharger network means that, at least for Tesla Model S owners, there are practically no limitations on where you can go in an electric vehicle.

General Motors’ model for making electric vehicles easier to own, exemplified in the Chevy Volt, involves the addition of a range extender. Interestingly, people put on more electric vehicle miles in the Volt than do Nissan Leaf people, in spite of having about half the range. Still, Chevy Volt owners still spend plenty of time on a charging station, either at home, at work, or at one of the expanding network of public-access charging stations.

Given that public-access electric vehicle charging stations are becoming more popular, and it seems they are needed and used, it comes as somewhat of a shock when a BMW executive says they’re not necessary. Based on BMW’s early testing of an electric Mini and a 1-Series, BMW board member Herbert Diess says “very few people would use public charging.” Diess, himself, says he’s been driving the BMW i3 for more than a year and “not once have I touched public charging.”

Diess figures that most people will choose the convenience of home charging and choose a properly-capable electric vehicle for their individual needs. Interestingly, Diess says he’s surprised that, with the rollout of the BMW i3 in Europe, that more people are not opting for the range-extender, estimating that perhaps 50% go for the $3,850 option. Could Diess be right? Are public-access electric vehicle chargers not an absolute necessity?

Photo credit: DDOTDC Foter CC BY-NC

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