Home » More ‘Surge Pricing’ Could Make The Cost Of Charging Your EV Harder To Predict

More ‘Surge Pricing’ Could Make The Cost Of Charging Your EV Harder To Predict

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Attempting to charge an EV at a public charging station may sometimes suck, but at least it still usually offers some savings over fueling up a comparable gasoline-powered car. However, that cost delta could soon be changing as some charging networks are starting to adopt every mobility startup’s favorite way of juicing more cash from customers: Dynamic pricing.

At the same time, the Audi R8 gets a stay of execution, Mazda is making some MF’n money, and the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto is aggressively attempting to be the best indoor auto show in North America. Welcome back to The Morning Dump; let’s get into it.

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‘Surge Pricing’ May Be Necessary For Charging Companies, Potentially Annoying For Consumers

charging

In an electrified world, public charging is a necessity, but it’s currently a deeply unprofitable business. One potential solution? Just like paying more for an Uber ride after a concert than you would on a slow morning: dynamic pricing. In truth, it’s already a thing at public charging stations, and will likely continue to be a thing, as Automotive News’ article titled “Prices for EV charging fluctuate for profit certainty but risk driver angst” discusses:

Typically, charging companies are hyperfocused on choosing the best location for charger utilization.

“But if you don’t price it right, then it’s pretty much useless,” [Go-Station’s CMO] Addison said. “Figuring out how to adjust it based on time and based on other factors really is a differentiator and a critical component to profitability.”

Dynamic pricing can be key to keeping charging companies from losing more money in the early stages of the EV transition, according to analysts, who suggest the practice is needed until charger utilization exceeds at least 15 percent.

Yes, gasoline prices also fluctuate based on demand, but to see hourly fluctuations is a shift from the way we’re used to paying for whatever makes our cars go, and that’s before we even get into time-based vs per-kWh billing (Some charging stations charge for the time you’re at the station, while some charge for the energy you actually use). It’s generally accepted that over the course of a day, the price of gasoline is fairly static due to the fact that gasoline is drawn from storage tanks at each station. However, electricity is more on-demand, despite the frequent presence of massive battery banks.

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Still, even if dynamic pricing is an important solution for charging companies trying to make a profit, it may not be something consumers like. From the article:

Price uncertainty at a charger is a bigger problem than at a gasoline pump because EV share is still marginal and early-mass market consumers may be turned off by it, [EV charging infrastructure analyst at Wood Mackenzie] Khardenavis said. Battery-electric vehicles made up 7.6 percent of light-vehicle sales through November, according to S&P Global Mobility.

“There are too many moving parts just to get consumers on board [with EVs]. We’re still struggling really to get 100 percent buy-in,” Khardenavis said. Charging companies need to simply explain why the price of a charging session changes at the same location between morning and evening.

Despite potential consumer frustration, dynamic pricing — in some form — shows players in the EV charging industry are trying to come up with solutions for longevity.

For EV drivers without access to at-home charging, it’s not hard to imagine dynamic pricing devolving into a cat-and-mouse game between drivers wanting a cheap charge and cheaper off-peak times, leading to challenges as everyone adjusts to constantly changing structure (Put another way: Drivers who want to pay less will chase the cheapest times to charge, but as soon as those times get more popular, the window of cheaper charging may shift). For those on trips, being held hostage to surge pricing may eventually just become a reality. In any case, depending on how many charging companies hop on the dynamic pricing train, one aspect of EV ownership could get substantially trickier.

The Audi R8 Isn’t Dead Yet

Audi R8 Gt Rwd

After nearly 18 years and two generations, the Audi R8 supercar is entering purgatory. With the impending replacement of its Lamborghini Huracan platform-mate, along with a shift in market demand from mega-cylinder monsters to electrification, this glorious titan was living on borrowed time, and in fact, it still is, defying the odds. German outlet Automobilwoche reports that the supercar from Ingolstadt is getting a stay of execution. While production was expected to end as the calendar turned to 2024, production is now scheduled to continue through March.

A world with more looney V10-powered rocketships is a world I want to live in, so I’ll take what I can get. Long live the everyday supercar that captured everyone’s imaginations in the 2000s. We certainly had it good when Audi offered an entry-level V8 variant of the R8 with a gated manual transmission, but maybe we didn’t know quite how good.

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Mazda’s Premium Push Is Working

2024 Mazda Cx 90 06

Several years ago, Mazda announced it was going premium, and everyone cocked an eyebrow out of skepticism. It’s not that the Mazdas of the time weren’t nice, but rather the public perception of the brand wasn’t quite aligned with say, Acura. However, when we first saw a mega-crossover from the brand historically known for its Zoom-Zoom tagline, everyone knew that Mazda was taking this seriously. The CX-90 rides on a new longitudinal platform, is available with a new 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-six, and is pretty much as close as you can get to a BMW X5 for people who don’t work in finance.

In a period when EVs were the new hotness, all of Mazda’s work going into this thing felt a bit behind the times. However, all of this investment in powertrains, platforms, and materials seems to be working, because Automotive News reports that Mazda could be primed for its best financial year ever.

Cashing in on the higher sales, Mazda booked all-time high earnings for its just-ended fiscal third quarter and says it is now zeroing in on record profits for the full fiscal year ending March 31.

The old Mazda CX-9 just managed to coax up 2.5 percent market share. The CX-90? Four percent. Oh, and how are margins on this new three-row crossover? As Automotive News reports:

The more upscale CX-90 rings up about twice the profit as Mazda’s global average, [Mazda CFO Jeffrey] Guyton said.

Jackpot. It’s worth saying, we like the CX-90 for its strong luxury content, decent pricing, and useful plug-in hybrid option. If vehicles like this help finance the development of the next MX-5, well, all the power to Mazda.

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The Toronto Auto Show Definitely Isn’t Dying

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It’s been a rough few years for international auto shows. From pandemic closures to waning manufacturer attendance, pretty much everyone’s feeling the squeeze. The Detroit show isn’t even happening this year, and the Los Angeles show back in November saw the loss of several exhibitors, notably Stellantis, Buick, GMC, and Porsche.

Yep, Porsche is returning to the Canadian International Auto Show, along with VinFast, Volvo, Lincoln, Infiniti, Buick, and GMC, brands we didn’t see an OEM presence from in Los Angeles. On top of that, dealerships are filling voids with some brands both ordinary and interesting. Think Stellantis, Rimac, Zagato, and Ineos. Rivian will be there, Tesla will be there, Fisker will be there, Polestar will be there, all serious signs of life for a show. Could the paradigm be shifting to make Toronto the most interesting indoor auto show in North America? I’ll be on the ground next week to find out.

What I’m Listening To As I Write TMD

It’s safe to say that 2023 wasn’t the greatest year in music. Rap pretty much fell off the charts, Frank Ocean had that Coachella performance, “Rich Men North Of Richmond” was a number one song, and somehow the worst song on Guts is the one Olivia Rodrigo track everyone was blasting. However, the year wasn’t a total loss, as some seriously promising projects were bubbling up through whatever’s left of the blogosphere. Sure, Model/Actriz may be a bunch of Berklee kids, but their debut LP “Dogsbody” takes a measure of Xiu Xiu, a tablespoon of LCD Soundsystem, and a good dash of unrepentant horniness, blend it all together, and serves up one of the strongest debut projects I’ve heard in a long time. Just try to stay still as you listen to “Mosquito.” I dare you.

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The Big Question

By now, it’s clear that most public charging networks aren’t offering a satisfactory experience for their users. While the gradual adoption of the Tesla Supercharger network by other automakers may ease the pain of non-functional equipment, loading up busy charging stations with EVs from other makes might not be a magic bullet. So, how would you fix public charging?

(Photo credits: Volvo, Audi, Mazda, Thomas Hundal)

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago

Could the paradigm be shifting to make Toronto the most interesting indoor auto show in North America? I’ll be on the ground next week to find out.”

I’ll be there on Feb 20th. Last year’s show was kind of sad with so many brands missing. But it’s still fun.

“So, how would you fix public charging?”

With competition. With the Tesla Supercharger network still being the best and with the adoption of NACS, from 2025 and on Tesla will benefit from increased ‘services’ revenue.

If other charging networks don’t get their shit together, Tesla will eat their lunch.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago

Resource in demand, sees price fluctuations based on demand. Who would have guessed, except for everyone with a rudimentary understanding of how business works.

Years ago I wrote on a forum that as EVs become more popular, the price of electricity will go up, because it has to. And as there are fewer gasoline powered cars, the price of gasoline will go down, because it has to. I posited that at some point, buying a gasoline powered car will be a value proposition, much as EVs were in their infancy (with regard to fuel cost of course).

What I hadn’t predicted was the EV mandates that were soon to come, that are effectively banning gasoline cars in some places and outright banning them in others. But as some OEMs start to walk back their EV plans a bit, it makes me wonder if there will be some pressure on these mandates.

Will definitely be interesting to watch this play out.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Years ago I wrote on a forum that as EVs become more popular, the price of electricity will go up, because it has to. And as there are fewer gasoline powered cars, the price of gasoline will go down, because it has to.

It’s not quite that simple. Electricity demand for EVs has gone up and will continue to do so, but greater efficiencies throughout the grid will temper some of the grid-wide demand growth. Continued improvements in renewable energy sources and charging infrastructure will reduce overhead costs. Meanwhile, short term gas prices will go down with demand, but they’ll rebound up massively once economies of scale start to slip. Who wants to be the one dailying a brand new gas car to save money days before a major refinery gets shuttered due to waning demand?

These mandates and corporate EV goals are already proving to be malleable. What’s inescapable, however, are market forces.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

“Who wants to be the one dailying a brand new gas car to save money days before a major refinery gets shuttered due to waning demand?”

This will make the price of oil go down at the nearest still operating refinery. That refinery will have newer more efficient equipment that is able to turn raw material into product at a lower cost.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Reduced supply does not lead to reduced prices. Even if demand reduces at a similar or greater rate, economies of scale are still impacted. Let’s say each refinery is optimized to service 1M consumers each. If a refinery is now servicing 500k consumers and is taken offline as a result, that next nearest one could very well be called on by 150% it’s optimal capacity, which leads to shortages or higher production cost… driving prices up.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Lol. This is magical thinking that does not take into account the increased discount on oil that the still operating refinery will receive because of a local supply glut. Maybe in California where oil comes off of a boat, instead of excess oil needing to be transported to a boat like most everywhere else.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Prices also go up for another simple reason: the desire for more profits. A lot of the recent inflation in food, car, soft drink, and other prices is 100% due to greed.

Ron888
Ron888
2 months ago

Ha! Barely a week goes past when i dont hear some version of these bullshit conspiracy theories

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
26 days ago
Reply to  Ron888

What makes it a conspiracy. When companies increase prices and decrease product delivered, above the price of input materials, what would you call it?

Ron888
Ron888
26 days ago

So buy elsewhere.Jeez it that logic so hard?

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
25 days ago
Reply to  Ron888

So is it a conspiracy or not? You didn’t address the question, (Although I was confusing by not using proper punctuation “?”)

In a free and competitive market that would be an appropriate response. When 70% of the market has done what I described, does the 30% left reach every consumer? And how do they survive when their competition has such market power and leverage?

Huja Shaw
Huja Shaw
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

So you’re saying that horses are going to make a comeback?

Elons Backdoor Musk
Elons Backdoor Musk
2 months ago
Reply to  Huja Shaw

I always get a kick out of the horse analogy, because it’s just so bad.

Most people didn’t own horses before cars and cars were an improvement in every way.

The vast majority of people now own an ICE vehicle and EVs have some disadvantages (e.g. refueling time, upfront cost and towing range).

It’s just a very poor analogy.

Last edited 2 months ago by Elons Backdoor Musk
Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
26 days ago

It should be noted that productivity and per capita income rose very steeply alongside the adoption of cars making it far more attainable for more people at the same time the new transportation method was being adopted. So not a perfect comparison, but near enough to help interpret the dynamics.

Analogies are inherently imperfect but they offer a good comparison to understand the underlying dynamics. If a better one comes along, that will be adopted.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Huja Shaw

I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that people will soon find that they can spend less fueling a gasoline car than an electric one. This is already happening in some areas. In the bargain end of the market this will matter a lot. Economic realities could keep gasoline cars around a lot longer than some are predicting.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

You are obviously correct, but it is taken as an article of faith among EV evangelicals that you are wrong. If they are so wrong about economics, what else are they wrong about?

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
26 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Public charging may be wrong. At home charging math is noticeably different. Especially after initial charger investment breaks even.
($1000 charger https://www.capitalone.com/cars/learn/managing-your-money-wisely/how-much-does-a-home-ev-charger-really-cost/2737#:~:text=Level%202%20charging%20stations%20usually,it%20can%20be%20more%20expensive.
takes ~25 charges to break even. Assuming model Y costs ~$10 at home charge vs. $50 / tank of gas which is an anecdotal number for roughly 13 gallons at $3.80/gallon
https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a45036169/electric-vehicle-ev-cost-to-charge/ )

Nathan
Nathan
26 days ago

From the capital one link: “Trenching: If you have a detached garage, you may need to dig a trench for the power conduit to rest in. The exact cost will depend on the distance to the garage, location, and what kind of soil you have.”
“The price of installing new circuits into your home will depend on a few factors. These include the state of your breaker box/electrical panel, which can cost anywhere from about $850 to $4,000 to upgrade”

To get to my detached garage from the box in my basement is going to require $1000 in just wire and even more in trench work. The box is also full so add $2000 or so. Also my Kia Rio holds a lot less than $50 in gas and gets 40 mpg. The payback period is in years.

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
25 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Evangelicals are also not looking at it from a purely dollar standpoint. There is some value placed on carbon emissions (which has extensive math around the internet. And input costs to manufacture a BEV surpass ICE cars until well over 100,000 miles. This does also not account for other environmental impact from rare earth metals)

But the better answer to lowering environmental impact involves a radical shift in the global transportation system away from cars, and does not seem attainable.

Nathan
Nathan
25 days ago

I totally agree with you on the need for more protected bike lanes and other non-car transportation options.

Currently the cost to charge a Bolt at home in my area in Michigan is $0.05 per mile, while oil + gas for my Rio costs $0.10 per mile. Each $1000 in charger installation cost is going to take 20,000 miles to recoup. Local price conditions and the efficiency of the gas vehicle make a big difference in calculations. It would take even more miles to break even if I was driving a Prius.

I converted my last two cars to run on E85. I would do it to the Rio and get lower carbon emissions compared to an EV on my grid, but doing that would void the warranty and I do not trust the transmission to not break for unrelated reasons. It would have been better if the government had made Kia sell it as flex fuel like it is in Brazil.

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
24 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Thank you for sharing the numbers you ran.
At some point I will be doing the same (more than likely out of curiosity mostly) but I also intend to run my 5-spd Camry for as long as I can and structure my life to minimizing time commuting by car.

It hasn’t been relevant for me yet, so I haven’t been bothered to look into it.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
2 months ago

Public charging stations should charge by the kwh. Also, they should be only be allowed to change the prices once per day. And of course, they should have a regular credit card reader.

Elons Backdoor Musk
Elons Backdoor Musk
2 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Gasoline prices are regulated where I’m at, with a price set based on a number of factors once a week.

I’m not getting an EV anytime soon, but I could see an approach like that catching on in certain jurisdictions.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago

Regulations? Protecting consumers? In America? That’s adorable!

Elons Backdoor Musk
Elons Backdoor Musk
2 months ago

I’m Canadian so there’s slightly more hope lol

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

100% agree on the credit card reader. If a certain OEM/Charge Network Provider wants to make card-less payment an option, that’s a fine value-add. But it shouldn’t be the only option.

Variable pricing and time-based charges can be a valuable way to improve efficiency. Surge pricing pushes people with flexibility to use chargers and times that may be cheaper, which allows for more even utilization and makes it possible for a number of chargers to serve more people efficiently. Time-based charges discourage inefficient behavior, such as staying hooked up once your battery is full or using an L3 charger beyond 80% charge. Again, this makes it possible for more people to more efficiently use a limited number of chargers.

What would be useful is if the fees were regulated. Some cities do this for cabs. The per mile/minute rate is set, but higher preset rates (or even some flat rates) are set for certain parts of town and certain routes.

3WiperB
3WiperB
2 months ago

If surge pricing is implemented, I hope it’s based on minutes at the charger, rather than a kwh rate. Then the cars that can charge at 250kw don’t get penalized as much as the ones that are charging at 100kw. And you penalize the people who charge to 100% (when the charge rate slows down) more than the people who only charge to 80% and free up the charger.

Surge pricing is not good for the consumer though, because the chargers will be more profitable if they remain scarce if surge pricing is implemented. So companies will have an incentive to leave them scarce to make more money.

Last edited 2 months ago by 3WiperB
Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Surge pricing is not good for the consumer though, because the chargers will be more profitable if they remain scarce if surge pricing is implemented. So companies will have an incentive to leave them scarce to make more money.

Yes and no. Surge pricing does theoretically improve margins. However, increasing rates reduces demand (which is one of the desired effects of surge pricing). If average pricing is too high, demand is reduced too much, and the total earning potential is negatively impacted. Surge pricing is intended to shift elastic demand while taking advantage of inelastic demand to increase margins.

Basically, if where and when you charge is flexible, surge pricing is designed to keep you out of the way while the system serves people who don’t have that flexibility. This helps service more consumers with the same infrastructure by leveling out utilization. If they intentionally limit supply so that it’s *always surge pricing, that’ll push people to find alternatives and lose more money for the network provider.

Naturally, public charging should have some oversight to prevent gouging and unfair practices, but surge pricing is fundamentally a sound way to use market forces to encourage more efficient infrastructure utilization.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
2 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

This is an interesting idea.
Pass through the cost of electricity with a constant mark-up (like cost + $x per kwh) and add an additional charge based on the amount of time spent at the charger.
This recognizes the cost of the product but also the value of the time that the charger is occupied. Very clever.

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
2 months ago

My electric bill has numerous types of charges on it already. The actual electricity is not too bad but all the other various charges push the bills beyond my wildest dreams (nightmares), I can see the same sort of thing happening at EV charging stations.

MegaVan
MegaVan
2 months ago

Whenever I’ve done the math it always comes out like this:

Gas Cost / mile = Home Charging Cost / mile x 2

Public Charging = Home Charging x 2

Gas Cost = Public Cost

If you are trying to save money, charge at home. Charging rates may have changed. I’m looking at 12 or so cents for home charging and I’ve not seen any superchargers under 20 cents.

It’s not like there is a sign on the highway advertising the charging rate at the next Tesla Supercharger.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
2 months ago
Reply to  MegaVan

While I agree with this (and it’s what I do), it doesn’t face the fact that housing costs are high, so renting is one of the more accessible options. And you will have a hard time charging at an apartment.

I don’t think surge pricing is the answer, because unless it is heavily regulated, it is a very easy way for companies to abuse consumers.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

And if it’s too heavily regulated, you can bet there will be fewer chargers. If operators can’t make back what they consider to be a reasonable profit, they’re not going to put them in.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  MegaVan

If you are trying to save money, charge at home.”

Or find other places that you can charge for free. Some workplaces offer free BEV charging. Some towns/cities also offer some charging spots for free. I think Ikea offers it as well.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
2 months ago

I’ve never used L3 charging, mainly just charge at home, but I can see the surge pricing being regulated eventually, like some states do with gas stations not able to change prices within a certain amount of time(Jersey Turnpike stations come to mind only once every 24 hours).

Also hopefully as charging station infrastructure build out there’ll be enough competition to keep from surging going crazy. Already see that with Teslas going to Electrify America stations cause it’s cheaper. Same as the gas stations in town, everybody’s going to the one that’s a nickel cheaper, it’s the whole reason gasbuddy exists.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
2 months ago

Huh, I have always thought L3 charging was dynamic pricing across the board. 3 phase commercial electricity is dynamically priced in most places (if not all?), so I figured it was all on that electrical system.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
2 months ago

Dynamic pricing can be key to keeping charging companies from losing more money in the early stages of the EV transition, according to analysts, who suggest the practice is needed until charger utilization exceeds at least 15 percent.

And how long will it stay after that?
Ya’ll remember when you didn’t have to pay for luggage on an airplane? Pepperidge Farm remembers

David Smith
David Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Ya’ll remember when you didn’t have to pay for luggage on an airplane?

I think we’ve all been paying for luggage the whole time. Until some airlines started offering cheaper flights with a charge for luggage. When I travel I can make do without luggage most of the time so those deals make sense for me (and lots of other people too).

Now the airlines can move to an ala carte model. You want to travel with a steamer trunk and a set of golf clubs, pay for it. You want to pack 300 pounds of tools and car parts, pay for it. If you want to carry a sensible sized carry on, you don’t have to pay for any extra.

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
2 months ago
Reply to  David Smith

Only one problem with that, the price of the lower cost tickets gradually increased so now the luggage fee is gravy.

JaredTheGeek
JaredTheGeek
2 months ago

Tesla already has variable charging based on time of day to reflect the cost of electricity in the area. Its predictable and tells you on the app and on your navigation screen. Honestly, it’s not a concern when traveling. If they get into surge pricing, then we will just get fleeced and it’s also why we need multiple charging companies for competition.

Electrified05ViggenFeverDream
Electrified05ViggenFeverDream
2 months ago

So, as one of the few commenters here who would be the primary demographic impacted by dynamic charging, I can tell you the answer is without a doubt…more public transit and fewer cars.

Because I know that the pitchforks are already being polished, let me explain! Like I said, I’m the person getting impacted the most:

– I live in an older apartment complex in Seattle, so no home charging.
– I drive a lot for work (35-80 miles a day isn’t uncommon).
– I drive an EV without a massive range-Polestar 2, 180mi is typical given I’m not charging to 100% or going below 10-15%.

In other words, I charge a lot, I have to charge relatively quickly to at all be practical, and I am totally dependent on my local Level 3 chargers. You’d think I’d be annoyed by dynamic/surge pricing…and I am–but mostly because it’ll quickly become price gouging to the greatest extent possible, given it’s run by private companies, whereas my utility is public and has legal obligations to keep prices down where possible.

The reality is that anyone who can afford an EV nicer than David’s soon to be Leaf-swapped $85 Jeep can absorb the impact of higher/dynamic pricing in a way that lower income folks in a beater Civic just can’t. It’s also entirely irrelevant to the large proportion of the population who simply can’t afford a car at all. Price “at the pump” isn’t going to be the determining factor for EV adoption for a while yet, if ever.

On the other hand, crowding at charging stations (what is driving the surge pricing in the first place) absolutely is a real, current, and rapidly worsening problem. It can and will quickly sour an experience with EVs. With a larger and larger portion of people in my area switching over, that crowding is palpably getting worse.

There isn’t an easy solution, either. In urban or near-urban areas, where access to chargers is most likely to be crowded and EV adoption rates high, the plain reality is that if everyone switched to an EV, we’d be in trouble. Level 3 chargers are large, take up valuable space in urban areas, are extremely expensive to install, and necessary for the large portion of urban drivers living in apartments in the US. Level 2 doesn’t cut it most of the time.

Encouraging broader EV adoption is a part of climate change mitigation strategies, and reasonably so–however, sometimes we need to step back and question the deeper systems that are in play.

For example, the question “How do we fix the EV charging problem?”, while valid, should always be considered in the broader context of the root question “How do we ensure our transit systems get people where they need to go sustainably, equitably, accessibly, and quickly?”. When we take that step back, it’s clear that, although expanding charger availability is important, reducing the number of people who need access to them is a far more effective solution. Rapid, regular bus systems, light and heavy rail, high speed rail, micro-mobility, and other things all are better answers the majority of the time.

While it wouldn’t solve issues in rural areas (and I’m not really trying to answer that at all here, that’s a whole other can of worms), or all of suburban areas (limited by their own sprawl), simply having fewer drivers on the road would massively reduce the difficulty of the problem of EV charging, let alone the questions around sustainability, accessibility, and other sub-issues.

In other words, I am a huge advocate for transit because it clears out the roads and chargers to make my own life easier. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have brand new cross climate 2s on the Polestar and some mountain roads to go wind through on my way to the coast today. Cheers lol~

Rina Herring
Rina Herring
2 months ago

I love everything about this, particularly your enjoyment of your Polestar 2. I’m planning on renting one soon, and am now even more excited.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
2 months ago

Greetings fellow P*2 driver! I enjoy mine on the twisty mountain roads of Colorado 🙂
I agree with 100% of your comment, but acknowledge that fixing/increasing public transportation in the US is not going to happen in our lifetimes. This has been an on-going problem for more than 50 years now and I wish I knew the answer. Decades of dedicated efforts on the part of automobile companies, tire companies, city planners, etc. to make our formerly flourishing public transportation systems impractical or kill them altogether (https://www.vox.com/2015/5/7/8562007/streetcar-history-demise) has led to the current situation and I just don’t see a way out of it without an enormous societal shift, which probably won’t be pleasant.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
2 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

I feel like the answer is a system where an educated populace selects a representative government that acts in the best interest of the populace. But I don’t see that shit happening in our lifetimes either.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
2 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Well now that’s just crazy talk!
😀

sigh…

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago

Dude, this is the internet. Stop making sense. Just stop already.

Thevenin
Thevenin
2 months ago

I firmly believe that EVs and public transit are complementary in the best possible way.

The more cheap EVs (middling battery size and/or slow-charging) there are, the more people will rely on busses and rail for intercity transit. And the more popular intercity mass transit becomes, the easier it will be to find lightweight/fun EVs, and the less traffic you’ll be stuck in when you drive them.

Jonathan Myers
Jonathan Myers
2 months ago

As an EV owner I find it interesting that people always bring up credit card readers on chargers. For Teslas the credit card is tied to a car so if you are using a Tesla charger you just plug it in and it starts charging the car. A separate credit card reader is just another failure point.
I agree that there are too many apps at the moment for non-Tesla charging. Ideally your payment information could reside in your car even for low speed an non-Tesla charging and communicate that to the charger so no app or card would be needed. If not that it would be great if there was a single app with your payment information loaded on it so that you didn’t have to have 4 separate apps on your phone.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Myers

Without a mandated standard, “car as payment device” is another major failure point. One of the reason the Tesla system works so well (for now) is because it’s Tesla’s vehicles talking to Tesla’s chargers. It’s consistent and the same. Once you start introducing more OEMs and charge providers into the mix, there’s more opportunity for miscommunications – and I doubt SAE will step in and set a standard for payment processing anytime soon.

Honestly, I think a card reader on the charger is the option with fewer failure points. It’s proven tech. Gas pumps, vending machines, etc. have been using the tech for decades. Integrations between credit cards (and the phone-based wallets like Apple Pay, GPay, etc) are well established and understood by consumers. It totally negates the need for a charge network-specific app.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

I really like how easy it is to charge my Tesla at a Supercharger, and a lot of that is the simplicity of the billing process. I see your point that this might be complicated when other manufacturers begin using Tesla chargers, though. Maybe include a credit card reader as a backup option?

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

While it may seem like a nice luxury to pull up and plug in, not accepting credit cards makes the assumption that a person charging a vehicle has a third party device (phone) and is willing to jam yet another app on there just to do business with you. That adds friction to the transaction, which is bad for business. Credit card readers are easy and pretty reliable. I bet they are more reliable than the chargers themselves in most cases.

Somehow I get the conditioning of the consumer to think just pulling up and plugging in is is the expected baseline to be a problem. Are people really that lazy? Here in Ontario we have a huge auto theft problem. A core contributor? People are too lazy to take a key out of their pocket so baseline is becoming keyless entry and start. Easily hacked. Nobody is asking you to manually crank your car, just take your poor tired arm and lift that heavy key up to the ignition and use a level of security that is proven better.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago

I really think the integrated payment is another one of those “party trick” features that Tesla owners like. If you enjoy it, more power to you (pun intended) but it’s not always the solution to a problem. Plus, I suspect it’s yet another mechanism to separate people from the transaction so they aren’t aware of how much they are paying.

Card readers are universal. They’re reliable. They’re understood. Sometimes the best solution to a problem is the one we’ve been using and optimizing for 40 years.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

“I suspect it’s yet another mechanism to separate people from the transaction so they aren’t aware of how much they are paying.”

I would accept this argument for cash, but not for credit cards. It is easy to swipe your card, pump your gas, and not pay attention to how much you spend. Tesla makes it easy to track charging costs if you want to do so.

(Incidentally, I feel like I am defending Tesla a lot today. I hope I’m not sounding like a Tesla fan who thinks Elon can do no wrong. There are things not to like about Tesla products, but I really think they are doing things right when it comes to charging.)

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Plug-n-pay is more of a continuation of that disconnect between consumption and payment, I guess. Kind of like how some websites have replaced the process where you have to enter all your card information with a “one click buy now”. But that’s a pretty incidental concern of mine. It strikes me mostly as a frivolous way to add the feeling of convenience.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

I see a difference between EV charging and consumer purchases. If you own an EV, charging is a need and not a want. The amount of electricity I purchase is dependent on driving needs as opposed to an impulse purchase.

It is also worth considering that most EV drivers (me included) charge at home 90% of the time. Plugging in at home also has the problem of separating consumption and payment. It requires more effort to track electricity costs when I charge at home than when I charge at a public charger.

Again, I don’t think it is a big deal if I had to swipe a credit card, but I don’t see a major downside to automatic billing in the context of EV charging. I guess maybe automatic billing might influence me to purchase a less efficient EV? I don’t think that is the case, but I acknowledge it is possible.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago

I don’t necessarily object to chargers using credit card readers. Credit card readers are obviously a better choice than phone apps. I still think the Tesla payment system is best if it can be reliable (with a credit card as a backup) since it removes a step in the process (just to be clear, you don’t need to use an app to charge a Tesla – you add your credit card to your Tesla account and it bills you for charging sessions). We all take for granted that we need to swipe our cards before filling up with gas, but I think skipping that step would be popular among owners of ICE vehicles.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Myers

Don’t have an EV and likely won’t have one for a while, but I don’t want to pay via an app at all. I’m not so old-fashioned that I would want to pay with cash (although I don’t see why that can’t be an option if you just prepay and they don’t give change? And that should be an option given that a big percent of the population has no bank account), but I definitely hate downloading apps and would be happy to tap a credit card before charging, just like before I fill up.

Ben
Ben
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

And that should be an option given that a big percent of the population has no bank account

I am very curious about the demographic overlap between EV (or any car, really) owners and lack of any sort of bank account. I’m also curious how anyone without a bank account survives in modern society. I’m not at all convinced that’s a use case that needs to be seriously considered here.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

https://www.fdic.gov/analysis/household-survey/index.html
4.5% of households were “unbanked” in 2021, according to the FDIC.
https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/2023-economic-well-being-of-us-households-in-2022-banking-credit.htm
6% in 2022, according to the Fed.
https://www.forbes.com/advisor/banking/costs-of-being-unbanked-or-underbanked/
This Forbes article paints a much more bleak picture.

At any rate, this is a good reminder why cash must not be removed as options. The longer EVs are available, sooner or later they will become options for the people society and the government have left behind, and it will be beyond cruel if they can’t pay to charge them because they don’t have a card.

And of course, this is just in the U.S. I’m sure hundreds of millions worldwide, even just in the population of “all countries with EVs available” are unbanked or underbanked, too.

Last edited 2 months ago by VanGuy
David Smith
David Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I was about to start looking at the numbers, glad you you beat me to it.

Ben
Ben
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

While I will admit a great deal of surprise that the number is increasing, that doesn’t entirely answer my question. Do many of those unbanked households even own a car? I’m dubious that they do.

Also, society has already left them behind, whether they realize it or not. Reading through that Forbes article, most of the reasons people don’t have bank accounts are pure ignorance. It’s nuts to deal with a BHPH car lot or a payday loan place because you don’t trust banks. You’re trading a heavily-regulated banking industry for some of the shadiest, most poorly-regulated businesses in existence. That’s not a life choice we should be encouraging.

Mind you, I’m speaking from a very US-centric point of view here. Things could be quite different in other countries (and some of those things are a big problem for EVs aside from payment systems).

Edit: An analogy that just occurred to me is that enabling people to remain unbanked is like providing free shuttle service from an AA meeting to a liquor store. Yes, on the surface it sounds like a nice thing to do, but your good deed is encouraging self-destructive behavior.

Last edited 2 months ago by Ben
VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

This is speculation on my part, but I would assume a lot less of that is “trust in banks” and more “if you don’t have money, you don’t have a bank”. If your money comes and goes quickly enough I could see a situation where the bank doesn’t make sense. Or just being an unhoused person.

I don’t know what percent of the whole there have cars or not. I just don’t think we should exclude anyone by not having that option (even if it’s just, say, one stall at a given charging station that can accept cash).

So, between society’s underserved and the people who decide of their own volition not to trust a bank…I don’t see why we should exclude either.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
2 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Exactly…it’s not a requirement to have a bank account (It’s very convenient though)…really, it’s not a requirement to do or have anything in life besides basic needs…also, I think cash should always be accepted- it’s MONEY

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

Completely off topic, but really jumps out to me in the images included. Why are so many manufacturers making their bumpers useless? It is well known that headlights have become extremely expensive, and most are in the first contact position, same with taillights. The Mazda is the only one that will not immediately sacrifice.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Just to add, they are part of the same module behind the bumper. You damage the lower headlight, the DRL will need to be replaced too (even on split headlights design like GM is doing nowadays).

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

I can’t think of a single incentive for a manufacturer to make a bumper more durable or less expensive to repair, so that might be your answer. I haven’t been in a automotive design and engineering studio in a while, but I don’t recall their ever being a title like Collision Damage Mitigation Team Lead.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

I prototyped bumper cores in the late 90’s and was dismayed to see them get thinner every year. I believe the testing for minimal damage was dropped in favor of crumple zone testing. Wish a minor mishap didn’t result in such expenses, and it is easily, and cheaply doable.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

I’m happy the R8 is sticking around for now. I’ve shared my hawt take that it’s the only cool Audi left several times…especially since they killed the TT and, more importantly, the TTRS, aka the best Golf ever made. I guess I think the RS6 Avant is cool as well, but it’s also somehow 5,000 pounds and costs as much as a well equipped 911.

Plus those 4 liter V8s are….um….certainly something you can make an attempt at owning long term! Anyway Audi desperately needs an infusion of sauce. They don’t really have anything that’s class leading right now and whoever responded to my comment a few days ago (I wish I remembered and could credit you) and described their design language as “un-styling” was correct.

They’ve truly mastered the art of designing cars that offend absolutely no one and remain truly anonymous in any parking lot in a well off area. Good for them I guess? Blah. I grew up around Audis and they’ve always been a brand I loved but in 2024 they’ve got nothing that gets my blood flowing.

Re: Model/Actriz: of course you’re into them Thomas lol. This is music that’s tailor made for you. I don’t say that with any shade though, I gave their debut a listen and really liked it. I used to be a huge fan of Daughters and, like everyone, stopped listening to and supporting them when Alexis Marshall was outed as being an abusive piece of shit by Kristin Hayter/fka Lingua Ignota.

Model/Actriz scratches a similar itch for me. They’re definitely more accessible and dance-ey but their music retains a similar aura of being a bit unhinged, chaotic, and unpredictable along with some traditional noise rock-ey elements. I think they have a lot of potential and I’m excited to see where they go.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago

Would more vents and honeycomb mesh help get your blood flowing? /s

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

Give me more fake vents, louder pumped in car sounds, more fake exhaust tips, and the most over the top ambient lighting you can give me! That’s what it’s all about

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago

“So, how would you fix public charging?”

The solution is easy, albeit not cheap. The Tesla Supercharger network is well maintained and easy to use (for those that don’t know, all you do is plug your car in; charging is automatically billed to the credit card on file for the owner of the vehicle). All EVs should use the Tesla Supercharger network. The only other problem is charger availability; that could be solved by building a hell of a lot more Superchargers. I would also add 240 volt outlets to parking lots and along curbs in areas where street parking is typical. These outlets would need some kind of feature that allows the outlet to automatically bill the vehicle’s owner (like the Supercharger network; ease of use should be a high priority), but that is presumably feasible.

Again, none of this is cheap, but if we decide EV adoption should be a priority, this is what needs to happen. Although, as someone suggested earlier, plug-in hybrids might be a better solution given current technology.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Thevenin
Thevenin
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

I wouldn’t overestimate the reliability of Tesla Superchargers. They reported 99.95% uptime in 2022 (lol), but that’s because any station with over 50% of its chargers operational is considered “online” for the sake of their reliability stats. They have good reliability anecdotally, but you know how Tesla anecdotes are: “I have had zero problems with my Tesla, except for all the factory defects which I’m ignoring for the sake of this discussion.”

But whatever solution we pursue, you’re right that we need to be prepared to pay. A lot. For every sector, not just automotive. We’ve collectively procrastinated the rollout of climate change solutions for so long that now we have to cram for finals.

Plug-in hybrids are good. I’ve put 75k miles on mine, and that’s the biggest endorsement I can give any technology. It’s a shame they sell like crap, though. They’re hard to engineer, and really only appeal to nerds like me who enjoy optimization problems.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago
Reply to  Thevenin

I actually hadn’t seen Tesla’s uptime statistics. I was mostly going off my own experience. Aside from having to wait on a few occasions, I haven’t had any problems. Charging my Leaf or Livewire was always a crapshoot, though, due to inoperable chargers. I would be curious to see uptime statistics for non-Tesla chargers. If it is true that at least 50% of Tesla chargers are working at a given station 99.95% of times, that strikes me as good compared to other networks.

A plug-in hybrid also appeals to me, but I also probably qualify as a nerd. I would buy one if I could only have one vehicle. I haven’t found one I like enough to replace my co-daily drivers (a Model 3 and a diesel F250; I think I may be the only person who loves EVs and smoky redneck trucks).

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

We’re also going to start seeing whether those uptime statistics continue to hold up once the chargers are open to other brands. The Ford rollout of their adapters represents the first major brand added to the network, and we know several other brands are going to be coming soon. Without standardized port locations, with more usage, and with a variety of equipment, we could see downtime increase. I don’t know, of course. It could be that they do build them better or maintain more frequently.

Personally, I think we should standardize charging port locations. If you told manufacturers that they could put their ports on the front driver side or rear passenger side, charging stations could be placed/designed to reach them more easily. It wouldn’t solve all the problems, but it would reduce them.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

As a Tesla owner I have very mixed feelings about opening the Supercharger network to other vehicles. I have similar concerns about whether the network will be able to handle increased usage and non-standardized vehicles. I hope it leads to investment in new Superchargers with continued upkeep of the existing units. I think that will be the case, but I would be lying if I said I am not concerned that my charging experience could get much worse.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago

One of the best fixes for charging is distribution of chargers. If businesses add L2 charging for customers who will be spending some time there, you could charge some without adding an extra stop. Have a nice, leisurely lunch and add a few miles of range. Spend several hours in a museum or theme park and come out to a pretty full charge.

The L3 charging should focus on highways and the like (and still be situated near restaurants, parks, and such, so you aren’t just charging).

Of course, we still need to push more charging for apartment complexes and the like, too, so that EVs can be viable for renters. Until renters can charge conveniently, we’re kind of locking out a large number of people.

And we need to be able to pay for charging without downloading a separate app. Just a card reader or the like. Paying at the pump is a solved problem that these companies have decided to unsolve to gather data.

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

It would be nice if businesses had chargers for employees too. You’re parked there all day anyway, it’s a great time to charge. They don’t need to be free either.

We had a meeting a few months back where the Operations VP was talking about all our sustainability efforts, such as adding solar panels. Someone asked about adding some EV chargers to the parking lot, the VP was genuinely surprised at the question. He said that had not come up before, but it could be discussed.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

Yes, absolutely. I’m lucky enough to have charging available at work, and they get a lot of use. And that can make things easier for renters, too!

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Absolutely! A few people, me included, chimed in with that fact during the meeting.

Thevenin
Thevenin
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

I’ve had this discussion with my employer, too. Outdoor rated 120VAC outlets and wiring have roughly 1/10th the installation costs of L2 charging stations. That would be a ton of bang for your buck in employee parking. In 8 hours, you’d get 11kWh, which is easily 30 miles of range — maybe not enough for everyone’s daily needs, but certainly enough to turn weekly DC charging sessions into monthly DC charging sessions.

For an apartment dweller, that’s all it really takes to make either an EV or a PHEV a competitive choice.

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago
Reply to  Thevenin

That’s where I am. As an apartment dweller with on-street parking, home charging will never be an option for me here. Having them at work would be a game changer. That’s what my BIL does with his EV, there’s a charger right around the corner from his work.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Paying at the pump is only a solved problem for people with credit cards. Not everybody does. Some (I know several) only have debit cards on accounts with a few bucks in the account (Social Security payments aren’t huge), and some (gasp!) deal in cash (maybe bad or no credit, or people who don’t like being spied on by the corporate world and anyone else it may share data with, or just have a card that won’t work in the reader. Most places where you pay at the pump have the option of paying inside at a cashier.

Maybe my acquaintances aren’t upscale, I guess.

JumboG
JumboG
2 months ago
Reply to  JunkerDave

I work in food delivery, and I can assure you that virtually everyone has a card now. It doesn’t have to be a credit card.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
2 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

Most people do have cards (I think you can buy a prepaid card at the dollar store), but those that don’t might not get food delivered. I’ve got cards, but the last time I had food delivered was in the 1970s.

JumboG
JumboG
2 months ago
Reply to  JunkerDave

People in the projects who don’t even own cars get food delivered and pay by card, so I’m pretty sure if you can afford an electric car, you have a card.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  JunkerDave

Debit cards are generally accepted as payment, but the people who prefer to deal in cash or who cannot open an account do exist. I think that they could solve the problem of charging payment with prepaid credit cards. It would be an inconvenience, but I think someone with better data than I have access to would need to consider the number of drivers without cards vs the number of charging stations that would need to be fitted with cash equipment.

I’d really prefer we offer good public transit so that people in rough financial positions didn’t need to own cars (and the people who don’t want to drive, the people who are going to try to use Apple Vision while driving, etc.), but that is very clearly not going to happen in most of the US.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

“The L3 charging should focus on highways and the like”

I’m going to respectfully disagree with you. Fast chargers make long-distance travel possible, but they also make EVs more convenient for local travel. I charge at home, but I use fast chargers when I have to drive more than I thought I would (or if I forgot to charge overnight, which happens). If I need to drive 50 unexpected miles, it is nice to be able to add that range in 5-10 minutes instead of 1-2 hours. It is reasonable to add L2 chargers to destinations where people ordinarily spend a few hours, but they are not a replacement for L3 chargers.

The availability of L3 chargers makes it practical for EV owners to charge using a standard 120 volt outlet. A big concern I hear from potential EV buyers is the cost of adding outlets and/or chargers to their residences. It is much easier to get by with routine L1 charging if you know a L3 charger is available nearby for the times your energy needs exceed your home charging capacity.

L3 chargers also make lower-range EVs more practical since you can quickly add range when you are running low, which occurs more often in a car with a smaller battery. L3 chargers are expensive, but it is probably cheaper to build a large network of L3 chargers than to build every EV with an expensive 100 kwh battery.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

I think I stated it poorly. I do think there is a place for local L3 charging (for people without home charging, especially), but I think the buildout of L3 should put more resources into eliminating range anxiety than into the local charging. The local L3 charging could be put in on a smaller scale, since local use is likely to be more limited than use between destinations. But you are right that it has a place, especially if we can convince people to get shorter-range vehicles.

I also think that we’re still in a stage where we’re discovering just what usage is going to be like, so there is likely to be some trial and error while we overbuild in some areas and underbuild in others, and I think a mistake that some planners are making is trying to put more chargers where they see more EV registrations, while many of those people are hoping for more chargers along travel routes. Maybe that’s just my state, since I do live in a city in an EV-resistant state.

Last edited 2 months ago by Drew
Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I would add to your point that if municipalities really want to mandate the switch to EVs by a specific point on the calendar they should encourage the solution to these problems by handing out tax credits to all businesses that install chargers. Make it tiered so you get the higher tax credit for L3 vs L2 and so forth. This could apply to restaurants, gas stations or larger companies where it would just be for employees in the parking lots.

They love handing out credits to people that buy the car. Why not focus some of the credits on the reasons for the resistance to the purchase in the first place?

And for businesses that serve the public it could even be a secondary source of revenue if they want to charge. They can decide for themselves if they want to give it out to paying customers as an incentive or just charge for the electrons. But it would increase the competition much faster than trying to mirror the business model of gas stations.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  Ottomottopean

Absolutely. Tax breaks/credits for installing chargers at businesses that aren’t just mimicking gas stations would be much better than offering those breaks to companies that just put a pile of chargers into a lot and call it good. There should also be incentives to maintain charging stations. If you reward building them, but don’t reward repairs, you end up with a bunch of them built and left to basically rot. As we’ve already seen some of these companies do.

Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I would actually go further and say that if you are installing the equipment and providing it as a public service (paid or not) then local code enforcement should be able to ensure that everything is functional, maintained and safe. Certainly the rules around the tax credits should include language for a duration of time the equipment must be installed and maintained or else you forfeit a portion of the credit and all of that.

But for ongoing and continuous maintenance the local govt needs to ensure that high voltage equipment is working properly.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  Ottomottopean

Good point. Enforcement should absolutely be a priority. And it wouldn’t be hard to set things up so that each charging station is registered to an entity responsible for maintenance, since the installs should already require proper inspection and permitting.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

I don’t have an EV so I’ll just catcall this from the peanut gallery

Credit/debt card readers that work
One app for those who like apps
Cables that completely retract and plugs that are covered when not in use to prevent hooligans from damaging them.
Multiple cables per charger and smart switching to send power where its needed. That way it won’t matter when jerks hog the cord.
Ubiquity. Chargers everywhere!
Average uptimes superior to gas pumps
Option to sell electricity back during surges

Bonus points for renewable electricity too cheap to meter

OnlyFlans
OnlyFlans
2 months ago

How to fix the public charging situation? Easy. The market is already doing it for us: sell more plug-in hybrids. Gas when you need it, electric when it’s convenient.

Old Fart Parts Guy
Old Fart Parts Guy
2 months ago

Great! Another reason for people to not adopt EVs!

Harmanx
Harmanx
2 months ago

It’s generally more helpful to hear experiences from EV owners, as opposed to people who haven’t spent much time with one. I’ve owned only EVs for six years (and various ICE cars — new and used — for 37 years prior). I strongly feel that the reasons to adopt them far outweigh reasons not to. That sense has only become more certain over time.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago

Even surge price charging will still likely be cheaper per mile than gas, save for some extreme edge cases. The real charging-related roadblock is the general lack of availability/uptime of chargers… which surge pricing may help.

Ben
Ben
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

The real charging-related roadblock is the general lack of availability/uptime of chargers… which surge pricing may help.

How so? I doubt anyone is deliberately timing their charge cycles to the busiest times of day, so those surge times are probably pretty inelastic. People are all charging at the same time because they need to. The only way this helps is if the increased prices result in an overall higher income for the charging stations, which allows them to invest more in maintenance and scaling out. But you know what else would do that? Just charging a sustainable amount in the first place. Surge pricing is just an excuse to gouge people and it will only drive further consumer dissatisfaction with one of the already least popular business segments in existence.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

People probably aren’t deliberately picking 5:00 PM on a Friday to charge, but knowing ahead of time that popular timeslots will cost more may further encourage people who have the flexibility to avoid those times – the same way they might be more inclined to do a quick grocery run on Saturday afternoon because they know Sunday morning will be slammed.

Surge pricing is not a silver bullet. Part of it is indeed taking advantage of inelastic demand at peak usage times. The other part is encouraging shifts in consumer behavior to reduce the amplitude of those peaks. Ideally, it would be regulated so consumers would know ahead of time when to expect surge pricing and to limit gouging.

Ben
Ben
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

the same way they might be more inclined to do a quick grocery run on Saturday afternoon because they know Sunday morning will be slammed.

But that’s exactly my point. People already avoid going places when they know they’ll be crowded. I don’t grocery shop right after work unless I absolutely have to. I don’t need surge pricing on my groceries to drive that behavior.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Avoiding crowds is a factor, but it’s not the only one. Let’s say a charging station has a known peak demand between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM. Surge pricing may be in effect from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. If surge pricing were a factor, I (as someone with flexible demand) might try to get in earlier or later to avoid paying more, freeing up space for people who don’t have the luxury. If surge pricing was not a factor, I just need to get in at 4:59 PM to get to the front of the line.

You already do pay surge pricing on your groceries. It’s just not dictated by the current population of the store. When demand goes up higher than what producers can predict/accommodate, prices increase. The difference here is Tyson can plan to have more turkeys available for Thanksgiving without incurring too much excess inventory for the rest of the year. Electrify America can’t bring new chargers online dynamically enough to account for a daily demand cycle.

Ben
Ben
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

I guess you could argue surge pricing is just supply-and-demand, but I think it’s more insidious than that. To use the grocery store analogy, imagine if you went to the store when it was busy and bought a turkey. The turkey costs the same now as it did two hours ago, but because at this moment the store is busy and they don’t have enough checkout lanes they charge you more. You’d be pissed, right? That’s basically what we’re talking about here, except the turkey is electricity and the checkout lane is a charge station.

If any company not in the consumer-hostile tech industry tried this sort of thing they’d get roasted so hard even their executives’ golden parachutes would be incinerated.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

If any company not in the consumer-hostile tech industry tried this sort of thing they’d get roasted so hard

Airlines have been doing this since the late 70s. Whether we call it surge pricing or not, variable capacity-based pricing like this has been with us for decades. Even utilities like the power company often engage in some kind of surge pricing.

The grocery store analogy is not one to one. But if we were take it further, you waiting at the check out line does not impede the store’s ability to make money/service customers. A check out line is not capacity limited in the same way that a charging station, airplane, taxi cab/rideshare is. In the case of an EV charging station, the charger itself is as much the product as the electricity is.

Now, that’s not to say this doesn’t have the potential for abuse. It absolutely does. Consumers should be educated. Pricing should be transparent. Ideally, the whole thing would be monitored and regulated to prevent gouging. But surge pricing is ultimately a (potentially) good mechanism for leveling out demand and allowing the infrastructure providers more avenues for profitability.

MarcK1973
MarcK1973
2 months ago

‘Surge Pricing’ May Be Necessary For Charging Companies, Potentially Annoying For Consumers

It’s definitely already happening. I live in Phoenix, AZ and drive a Tesla Model 3 LR that I bought new in 2018. My condo building still doesn’t have charging after all of this time but there’s a 72kw Supercharger station literally across the street so no big deal before, except now the rates went up so much recently that unless you go late at night I’m now paying about the same if not maybe slightly more than gas would cost me for the same number of miles added. I really wish there was a PHEV available with anything close to the level of tech my car has without installing something like comma.ai, etc.

Last edited 2 months ago by MarcK1973
Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
2 months ago

Less L3 charging and more L2 charging. Stores know how long their customers are there. Put in paid and rate limited chargers that charge based on time and make it a reasonable fee like $5 for 30 minutes and 20 cents a minute over that. Then offer some incentive like free 30 minutes charging with a $75 purchase or something. That incentivizes people to get their bread and milk and move on. Plus the stores get a revenue stream. There likely are a lot of holes in that for someone more knowledgeable to work out. More L2 charging is still a good thing!

Jonathan Myers
Jonathan Myers
2 months ago

Within a mile of me there is a 20% difference in the price of regular gasoline from the high to the low. If you have time you search for the cheapest gas and potentially take the extra time to find it and drive there. If you are in a hurry you buy what is convenient. Today when you use Tesla superchargers they cost more to charge during busy times and high demand. It makes perfect sense to me since it allows people that are price sensitive and have some flexibility to pick when they charge. It is just like congestion pricing for driving which is a great idea and I wish was in force where I live. It smooths out demand. We are still early in EV usage. I have a charger at home so only use quick charging on trips so 90-95% of the time I’m charging at home. As more low speed charging is added to homes, apartments, workplaces, malls, etc., the price of quick charging will not matter as much.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Myers

Surge pricing is fine if the location has a sign (like gas stations do) that shows the current price.

Jonathan Myers
Jonathan Myers
2 months ago
Reply to  JunkerDave

At least for Teslas the price per kwh shows up on the nav screen when you put the supercharger in as a charging destination.

MrLM002
MrLM002
2 months ago

So, how would you fix public charging?

Make NACS only public chargers eligible for charger subsidies.

Have all North American Electric Cars move to NACS.

For me I don’t think I’ll buy any BEV that requires an electronic “handshake” to charge, I just want to plug it in like any other electric appliance I have and have it start charging.

V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago

Otherwise rational people will burn $5 in gas to drive across town and wait 20 minutes in line for a station selling at 10 cents less per gallon, so I predict surge pricing to go over like a lead balloon.

Meanwhile:

A world with more looney V10-powered rocketships is a world I want to live in

At last something we are in full agreement on.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

More cylinders=more fun. I don’t make the rules.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
2 months ago

If EV charging is *truly* non-profitable, then there’s no business case for companies to open up new ones and keep their equipment running. It will then fall on the government. Businesses are in the business to make money, plain and simple

BOSdriver
BOSdriver
2 months ago

Correct. Hard to compete with charging at home if it is cheaper, for those of us who can charge at home (I don’t now, I did for years when I had my PHEV every day). In the 4+ years, ~80k miles I had my PHEV, I charged exactly once away from home, mainly due to not needing to due to the reliance on the gas engine for the majority of the miles driven.

Then again, unless you have a paid off solar array here in MA, there is no “cheap” electricity and based on how the grid needs updating, the cost isn’t going to drop anytime soon. I keep running the numbers on my current car, running 87 octane vs a BEV and Iam stretching to say I would save about $500-600 per year running 20k+ miles. Depending on the car, I could end up paying more or slightly less for insurance.

If the price is going to fluctuate throughout the day, forget it, most people who would have to rely on a charger are unlikely to want to play along. That, plus some horror stories regarding huge swings (usually increases) on car insurance will hurt the movement towards EV adoption for the average person. As a somewhat early user of a PHEV, you had to want one and deal with the strategy around driving in EV mode, vs gas, vs charge mode, etc. Add in more thought to time of day to charge, assuming people can change when they fuel up easily to accommodate price swings, is well beyond the mental energy most folks want to or are capable of doing.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
2 months ago
Reply to  BOSdriver

I can’t imagine ever bothering to charge a PHEV while on the go. Even if you pull into a grocery store or something with a charger, you usually aren’t inside long enough to make much of a dent. Why bother? You can refuel for 300 miles of range in 5 minutes at the gas station.

The whole upside to a PHEV is that I could start a trip with a full battery from home charging, and maybe I rarely use gas for local business. Long trip, I am still going to the gas station because it is currently a superior way to add range.

OldJackBurton
OldJackBurton
2 months ago

Did Hyundai electrify the DeLorean?

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