Imagine Banning Fast DC Charging Of Electric Cars In Cities

Dan Smith

The story of EV charging in 2022 revolved around fast DC charging and how to get more stations so people can fill up their EV in 30-40 minutes, and perhaps in just 10 minutes in the future. The Inflation Reduction Act and other laws have allocated huge subsidies to encourage the installation of such charging in cities and along rural highways. This is because to transition the world from gasoline to Electric Vehicles, it needs to be easy to charge those vehicles. For people still mired in “gasoline thinking” they think in terms of the “fill up,” where a driver drives around until their “tank” gets low, and then they look for a place to fill up, do so, and get on their way. Gasoline thinking is the wrong way to think about EVs, but we’ve thought that way for a century which makes it hard to change. To stop this thinking, we might consider a thought experiment of forbidding, rather than encouraging fast charging in the cities. Since fast charging does have its uses, we’re not actually going to ban it — particularly on the highways between cities — but if we don’t stamp out gasoline thinking, we’ll switch to EVs in the wrong way; a way that is less convenient and takes more time, and costs more money to boot. If we put our government funds and policy into fast charging, we’ll be putting them in the wrong place, and sacrificing better plans. Fast charging still makes sense on road trips of course, and for high-utilization fleet vehicles. It also has become the inconvenient fallback for people who can’t access the superior slow-charging approach. So it would not actually be banned — don’t fret too much.

EV Thinking

“EV thinking” is different. It’s based on the reality that almost all cars are parked for 90% or more of the day. If the cars can slow charge during even a small portion of that, they can get all the charge they need almost all the time. Charge where you park for long periods. The charging takes zero time out of the driver’s day, because it happens while the car was going to sit there parked anyway. It is also kinder to the battery. Slow charging equipment is also much cheaper than fast-charging gear, and as a result, the total charging costs are much lower. (Many fast charging stations charge a price that is more than the cost of gasoline in an efficient hybrid car, defeating the cost savings that are one of the big advantages of EVs.)