Electric cars are doomed if fast charger reliability doesn’t get better

Enlarge / On a positive note, the charging stations were busy when we visited them. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Electric vehicles are, in many regards, clearly better than the internal combustion engine-powered relatives they will eventually replace. They’re quieter, they rattle and vibrate less, they accelerate faster, and they’re much more efficient because they can recover energy under braking. And their batteries should last for the life of the car as well as a gasoline engine does. But I’m increasingly convinced that EV adoption is going to run into real problems if we can’t get a handle on charger reliability.

Even the biggest EV evangelist can’t ignore the fact that it takes a lot longer to recharge a battery than fill a tank with liquid hydrocarbons—not even when that battery is connected to a very high-voltage DC fast charger. For about two-thirds of American car buyers—those who have somewhere at home to charge overnight—this isn’t a problem, most of the time. On average, people only drive 29 miles a day, and so even short-range EVs should actually meet the needs of most drivers.

That’s the purely rational take, anyway.

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