Why Electric Vehicle Owners Are Switching Back To Gas

Roughly 20% of electric vehicle owners in California replaced their cars with gas ones, a study shows. The main reason drivers said they made the switch was the inconvenience of charging. The findings suggest new challenges facing the growth of the nascent electric vehicle market.

Why Electric Vehicle Owners Are Switching Back To Gas

In roughly three minutes, you can fill the gas tank of a Ford Mustang and have enough range to go about 300 miles with its V8 engine.

But on a recent 200-mile trip from Boston to New York in the Mustang’s electric Mach-E variant, Axios’ Dan Primack said he felt “panic” as his battery level dipped below 23% while searching for a compatible charger to complete his trip.

“I was assured that this might be one of the country’s easiest EV routes,” Primack wrote. “Those assurances were misplaced.”

For Bloomberg automotive analyst Kevin Tynan, an hour plugged into his household outlet gave the Mach-E just three miles of range.

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“Overnight, we’re looking at 36 miles of range,” he told Insider. “Before I gave it back to Ford, because I wanted to give it back full, I drove it to the office and plugged in at the charger we have there.”

Standard home outlets generally deliver 120 volts, powering what electric vehicle aficionados call “Level 1” charging, while the higher-powered specialty connections at 240 volts are known as “Level 2.”

By comparison, Tesla’s “Superchargers,” which can fully charge its cars in a little over an hour, run on 480 volts.

That difference is night and day, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Energy by University of California Davis researchers Scott Hardman and Gil Tal that surveyed Californians who purchased an electric vehicle between 2012 and 2018.

Roughly one in five plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners switched back to owning gas-powered cars, in large part because charging the batteries was a pain in the… trunk, the researchers found.

Of those who switched, over 70% lacked access to Level 2 charging at home, and slightly fewer than that lacked Level 2 connections at their workplace.

“If you don’t have a Level 2, it’s almost impossible,” said Tynan, who has tested a wide range of makes and models of PEVs over the years for his research.

Even with the faster charging, a Chevy Bolt he tested still needed nearly six hours to top its range back up to 300 miles from nearly empty – something that takes him just minutes at the pump with his family SUV.

EVs have come a long way in recent years in terms of range, safety, comfort, and tech features, but Hardman and Tal note that very little has changed in terms of how they are recharged.

The researchers warned that this trend could make it harder to achieve electric vehicle sales targets in California and other countries, and the growth of the market overall.

“It should not be assumed that once a consumer purchases a PEV they will continue owning one,” Hardman and Tal wrote. “What is clear is that this could slow PEV market growth and make reaching 100% PEV sales more difficult.”

GM has set a target of an all-electric fleet by 2030, while Ford recently unveiled its “game changing” Lightning F-150 electric pickup truck and is prioritizing production of its electric Mustangs over its traditional gas ones.

But Tynan says that fixing the charging issue will require even more active engagement from automakers.

Meanwhile, change is on the horizon. Tesla recently filed paperwork to open a drive-in restaurant at one of its LA supercharger stations (which takes 15 minutes to deliver an 80% charge), and 7-Eleven announced it will be installing 500 fast-charging connections at select convenience stores across North America.

Meanwhile, those initiatives are dwarfed by President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which would set aside $15 billion to build a national network of 500,000 stations.

But those are largely still plans, and it will be a while before EV ownership is just as convenient as gasoline currently is.

By Dominick Reuter. This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. The charging issue is huge. While I believe electric vehicles have a future, it will only be when we have a reliable and more robust power grid. There is a huge difference in charging your iPhone than charging a car. It takes a tremendous amount of electrical power we simply don’t have. 480 volts is not available for home use. Level 2 charging makes your power meter spin more than an electric dryer or electric oven. Imagine running those for several extra hours per day. Energy is not free.

  2. It seems like going all electric would make it easy for governments or authorities to gain leverage over the people by shutting down or limiting the power supply so no one can go anywhere, kind of like pandemic lockdowns. And I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that gasoline engines specifically pose a significant and immediate threat to the environment, yet there have been plenty of feckless, vague attempts to influence the sentiment of the easily persuaded. Does this mean motorcycles will also be prohibited even though their emissions have never been a problem? I’d prefer driving a small motorcycle engined 4-wheeled vehicle for most purposes, instead of an electric one. It will be interesting to see if markets like that are allowed. Combustion vehicles are part of a big part of the American identity.

  3. The investment of billions of dollars in charging stations shows how corrupt our congresspersons are. Virtually all of them should be punished severely.
    These stations will be obsolete essentially the day they are installed. This is because the better technology is to have rapidly replaceable battery packs, that can be switched in only five minutes, compared to the 45-75 minutes it takes to recharge batteries in the vehicle. Additionally I’m sure you have seen the burned-out hulks of vehicles that caught on fire during recharging, with the vehicles and all their contents being destroyed.

  4. Gonna have to build more gas and/or coal fired power plants just to recharge batteries, which by the way use significant amounts of rare element metals which create horrific, toxic lakes to mine and refine. Then the batteries are only goof for 100 thousand miles and must find a radioactive grave site.

  5. I don’t think they have a plan to produce that many electic car. Seems like they will just eliminate gas-powered cars saying electric is future. Electric cars have been in use since 1880s and not have been proven efficient for longer routes. This whole going to electric is just a distraction, as we already have technology for free energy. But they will suppress it unless their agenda 21 is complete.

  6. They can but that also generate revenue for them.they will do it by dividing the society vaccinated and unvaccinated. Then based on vaccine doses, then on social credits. The plan is on bro

  7. Going through a heat wave (I’m just outside Vancouver BC) and watching alerts from CA (BC supplies a lot of their power) saying ‘don’t use power to charge up your EV’ made me laugh at the people who would buy one. Trying to figure out the insurance complications of having charging stations in our condo is crazy. I say no. I don’t want to pay a few hundred dollars a year for insurance because some SJW/SNAG wants to drive a Tesla.

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