Electric Car Charging Hassle Will Spur Buyer Resistance

The BMW Isetta 300 bubble car from the 1960s. Electric cars might need to be this small to be affordable and easy to charge.
Battery cars face many barriers to success, but the charging system is the biggest hurdle and this threatens to derail the whole European Union (EU) project to force its citizens into electric vehicles.
It’s not just the lack of public charging stations, but their clunky operation and unreliability. This is going to be a running sore with carmakers as they try and sell electric cars. The public is well aware that electrification will soon be upon them and it won’t be long before we're all thinking of buying them. Future buyers of electric cars will expect them to be just as convenient as internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. When word gets around that electric car buyers are wasting a huge amount of their time queuing up at charging stations, or finding the interface time consuming and opaque, sales will stall. As electric cars gain market share, expect to see scenes reminiscent of the 1970s fuel crisis as queues develop because of inadequate charging.
Experts like evergreen Bob Lutz, 87 now and a former mover and shaker at BMW, Ford, Chrysler, and GM, reckons that the EU might be forced to rescind its harsh rules for ever increasing fuel efficiency, to save the European industry from financial damage.
This negative view of battery-only car prospects is based in part on a week I spent driving an all-electric Volkswagen e-Golf. It was a fabulous car. The electric motor gives it amazing and eerily-quiet acceleration. The handling and build quality are exemplary. The range is only about 145 miles, but the e-Golf will soon be replaced by the VW ID range of electric vehicles with close to twice the range. The e-Golf is simply a regular sedan with an electric motor. The ID.3 will be the first of many VWs which will be built on engineering dedicated to electric mobility. The e-Golf would be perfect as a regular commute to work, (although it costs 33,840 pounds after tax - $38,500 -  and 30,340 pounds - $34,500 - after a government grant) but if you are planning anything more adventurous, beware.
I have an electric charger at home. It's a ChargePoint and works a treat, but I searched out the local charging network to see how it functioned. I live in Sussex, about 70 miles south of London. It is a prosperous area where the industry presumably expects to make big electric car sales. I’ve had electric cars in the past and used Zap-Map www.zap-map.com to pinpoint chargers. This has been chronically unreliable and suggested charger locations which often didn’t exist. This time the first supercharger station, which can fill the battery to about 80% of its capacity in 40 minutes, was at a local supermarket. The charger was out of order and closed. Ten miles north-west was another supercharger. I parked the car and phoned the number on the machine for instructions on how to connect the thing. I had an account with the company running the machine. After a 15 minute wait on the ‘phone I got through, and 45 minutes after that and numerous attempts, we gave up. It didn’t help that the screen of instructions on the charger couldn’t be read in bright sunlight.
Fifteen miles east for another supercharger. This one was owned by a different company and wouldn’t recognize my account and demanded I download an app and fill out a form with address and banking details. I declined, wondering why the machine couldn’t handle a simple credit card deal. As I was preparing to leave, another e-Golf drove in. The vehicle, emblazoned with ads for the car, was clearly on loan from a dealer. The driver, a well-dressed man in his late 30s with wife and baby, clearly assumed that “filling up” an electric car would be almost as easy as a gasoline vehicle. He approached the machine and went for the standard charger. I asked him how many miles he had in the tank – 20 miles - and how far he needed to travel - 80 miles. I told him if he wanted another 60 miles that method would take possibly at least 3 hours and he should use the supercharger. In those circumstances, even the supercharger taking about 30 minutes seems grossly inadequate compared with the less than 5 minutes and no hassle promised by the ICE method.

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