58 Percent Of US Population Can’t Join EV Revolution Without A Plug

JUL 29 2015 BY MARK HOVIS 88

Yeah, that is quite a lot of EVs!

Yeah, that is quite a lot of EVs!

According to a 2013 paper published by the Union of concerned Scientist, only 42% of U.S. households could use EVs available in 2013. This article is a look at the factors that will change this statistic over the next twenty years.

The report states that EVs make up less than one percent of the current U.S. fleet, and that if everyone that could use an EV did so, we could reduce our oil usage by 350 million barrels of oil per year. This percentage serves as a basepoint to simply state there is room for growth in early adoption.

PHEV vs BEV: who’s eligible? (from the 2013 report)

To utilize a PHEV, respondents had to meet all three of the following requirements:

  • Access to parking and an outlet, as PHEVs require charging access. 56% of U.S. households have access to charging.
  • 5 or fewer occupants (including driver), as most of today’s PHEV models are 4 or 5 person passenger cars. 95% of U.S. households report 5 or fewer occupants in their cars.
  • No hauling or towing needs, as today’s PHEVs aren’t suitable for towing. 79% of U.S. drivers don’t need to tow.

To utilize a BEV, respondents had to meet three additional requirements:

  • Access to parking and an outlet specifically at home.
  • Drive a maximum of 60 or fewer miles on weekdays. Most of today’s BEVs have driving ranges between 60 and 90 miles. 69% of U.S. drivers have weekday range requirements safely within this range.
  • Own more than one vehicle or infrequently take long trips. A second vehicle enables longer driving ranges during vacations and trips. 65% of U.S. households have more than one vehicle.

Addressing a large percentage without an auto


Uber Effect

Nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population carpool, use public transportation, walk, or use methods other than a car or truck for their commute. The percentages are higher in the most densely populated cities where people are more likely not to have access to a plug. Though impossible to parse the data to the above criteria, a significant portion of this group do not require a plug today, nor in the future, for they do not require an automobile at all. Currently public transportation only makes up five percent of the US commute, though most research data shows this number is on the rise.  Recent years have shown a growth in carpooling from nine to twelve percent. It is unclear how much the Uber effect will have on this sector over the next ten years, or what  autonomous Uber and competing companies will have on the following decade, but it is safe to say the numbers will be substantial.


Telefonix's L1 Powerpost EVSE

Telefonix’s L1 Powerpost EVSE

Core Group without a plug: Many apartments and businesses are currently adding basic Level 1 and Level 2 EVSEs and will continue to do so over the next twenty years. Part of the hurdle, is understanding the process, and benefits of attracting desired workers/tenants. Further programs will be required to improve this sector for it will have the largest impact. The industry itself will require vision like the DOE EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

In less than five years, early portions of autonomous parking will start to arrive including the ability to charge autonomously. Autonomous parking will likely clear legislative hurdles before autonomous driving. Like smart phones and the internet, there is no real way to know for sure how soon or how disruptive this step will be. It is almost certain that autonomous parking will open transportation opportunities to all types of vehicles in densely populated areas, and EVs in search of a plug will be no exception. Businesses that succeed in this market will cut sharpest of all into the remaining group without a plug seeking to drive electric.

Natural Change

In the 1950’s, most U.S. homes were enjoying the wonders of electricity. The middle class however, was just discovering the wonders of electric potable hot water. Adding a hot water heater required a new household circuit, typically with a heavier #10 AWG wire and a double pole breaker added to the home electrical service. The conversion happened smoothly. This is exactly the same wire, breaker, and installation procedure that will be required for EVs. A percentage of those currently without an accessible plug will opt to add one just like adding the hot water heater, heat pump, entertainment circuit etc. and another percentage, though smaller than the core group above, will disappear.

Some apartment dwellers are learning that they can adapt without a plug. My daughter Sarah, a recent college graduate, was born electric July 12th in a used MY2012 Chevy Volt she purchased for $12,000. Sarah sat down with her employer and explained how many kilowatts she would be using and agreed to pay for her usage at work which worked out to be less than $5 per week. From her frugal purchase, to her negotiation/education with her employer, I am a proud papa on many levels. While such grassroots approach will not solve the problem, or be successful in every case, it certainly helps with both the transition and exposure for newcomers while EVs are only a few percent of the automotive sector.

The near future will not produce a single energy source

Powerwall Coupled With SolarCity PV Installation

Powerwall Coupled With SolarCity PV Installation

It is likely that for at least twenty years and beyond, we will have multiple  energy sources. In twenty years, solar will continue to grow economically, and arguably will be the most environmentally friendly. Utilities will continue to add wind, solar, and natural gas to their mix. For individuals fortunate enough to support, or have access to a solar array, the allure of locking in the low cost of your transportation energy for as low as $150 – $300 per year for 25 years is intoxicating for those choosing to drive electric. If environmental issues matter to you, it is a way for many to personally take charge of their carbon footprint and truly declare zero emissions. No competing energy source can match the environmental and economic benefits of the solar offset EV one-two punch.

Without a plug and a roof

Currently only 22 percent of U.S. households are capable of supporting a solar array. This too is changing. Some are opting to make a difference by buying green credits from organizations like Ethical Energy. The single most disruptive force for solar will be in the availability of shared solar, also called community solar, or solar gardens.  Currently 22 states have community solar projects underway. This is a long process, but like autonomous driving, the disruption is coming and the benefits are undeniable.

Diminishing Fueling Infrastructure

But For Now Prices Are Low

Pumping infrastructure

With EVs charging 90 percent of the time at home or in the workplace, there is no need for the current filling station infrastructure as we know it for the EV sector. For the remaining technologies including, but not limited to, natural gas vehicles CNG, hydrogen fuel cells FCVs, and legacy gasoline ICE, the availability of filling stations will certainly be limiting outside of densely populated areas other than gasoline. Still, in the land of choice, yet another substantial percentage will choose one of the other technologies over the twenty years in review.

In 2035, will there be any meaningful percentage left that wish to plug in where improved infrastructure and disruptive technologies from Uber to autonomous charging do not suffice? Maybe the real question is, will any other form of transportation other than diminishing legacy gasoline, have more than 42% access to fuel/charging other than EVs?


Categories: Charging, General


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88 Comments on "58 Percent Of US Population Can’t Join EV Revolution Without A Plug"

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Scott Franco, the greedy republican

Most of the charging issues are simply buthead landlords. My employer, hopefully anonymous, declined to offer charging, even though we have 20 (!) EVs in residence here. When some of the EVers found there were various 110v and 220v outlets on the property and started to use them, management issued a rule forbidding that.

My kid drives an electric moped. Her apartment building has an outlet at the parking space, which was disconnected years ago to prevent tenants from *gasp* using power.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but a simple rule to require 110v or 220v power outlets in parking spaces would take care of it. NOT a charger. Just a plug. There are plenty of 110v and 220v chargers out there, and they are relatively cheap.


Right, this is easily solvable for a good portion of people with the right legislation. The ones left out will be those relying on street parking (that’s up to cities to handle that).

Tesla’s sort of handling that with superchargers in certain cities, but I’m somewhat skeptical if this will be a long term solution.

Probably the long term solution is charging at every parking space, but first they have to bring down the costs dramatically. The charging pedestals being installed right now are pretty expensive and probably overly complicated for what it is accomplishing.


Again, because of this weird and unnecessary requirement that full chargers get installed. It isn’t necessary. Even 220v chargers are readily available in simple plug in, corded versions.

Requiring a full EVSE at each car not only tacks on the cost of the charger, but adds a whole level of need for networking and plenty of added paranoia about charging for and regulating power use.


You have to install full, smart chargers (that require verified access) because no one is going to give out vast quantities of electricity for free, so there has to be a way to bill the user.

The alternative would be to put each parking space’s plug on the same physical circuit as the tenant’s residential unit (which would be FAR more expensive than installing a charger) or installing individual utility meters for each plug (which isn’t cheap and still doesn’t solve the problem of restricting access).

Installing smart EVSEs is simply the least bad option.

M Hovis

Here is one simple solution for billing the plug argument.http://insideevs.com/portable-chargers-electric-cars-south-korea-video/

This article outlines possibilities for future EV infrastructure specifically in areas without a plug.

Dan, can you outline a real potential for hydrogen infrastructure in twenty years for everybody to access?

OK if twenty years is too tight, can you describe one with some level of detail even if it is longer?

That is the point of the article.

The technology cited seems to require a smart outlet that wirelessly communicates with the driver’s EVSE; I’m not sure how much cheaper that would be than installing an EVSE, if at all. (Keep in mind that very little of the cost of a L2 EVSE installation is in the equipment.) The best case scenario for that technology would appear to be converting existing 120V outlets, but as I have stated elsewhere, 120V is not a sufficient solution for a BEV as a primary/only vehicle. As for the H2 timeline: it would certainly take more than 20 years to roll out H2 “for everyone” that could replace petroleum. I think that as we rolled out the refueling infrastructure, prices would continue to go down (as they have for batteries and solar). However, the problem I see is that I see no plausible timetable at all for an EVSE for every car, which is what would be needed to eliminate petroleum. Well, that’s not true; another way would be charging that’s comparable to petroleum in speed and price, but I don’t see a path to that either. So as I said before: if the solution isn’t H2, then it needs to be… Read more »

“…very little of the cost of a L2 EVSE installation is in the equipment.”

I’m sure that if a utility company was paying for the install, then most of the cost would be in the equipment. If someone is charging outrageous prices for simply running a 220 circuit out to the parking lot or to curbside, then either they’re not properly equipped to handle the install or else they’re price gouging.

When PEVs become commonplace enough that there are a lot of people whose full-time job it is to do these installations, the price will come down to something reasonable, and it will no longer be the case that the average installation costs more than, say, a pedestal GE Wattstation. If Google Fiber can do an installation for $300, there’s no reason for an electrician to be charging thousands of dollars to install a 220v circuit and outlet, unless (for example) that requires upgrading the main electrical panel in an apartment building. And even that should only have to be done once, not again and again for every parking place.


Well, sure, if someone else absorbs all of the installation costs, then anything can be cheap.

As for what it actually costs:


A single curbside or surface lot EVSE installation costs a little over $9000, for which the overwhelming majority of the cost can be attributed to installation and trenching.

The $300 that you paid Google to run fiber-optic to your home bears no relation to the actual cost of that run.


Spider-Dan said:

“The technology cited seems to require a smart outlet that wirelessly communicates with the driver’s EVSE; I’m not sure how much cheaper that would be than installing an EVSE, if at all.”

You can buy a (non-subsidized) cellphone for under $25. Why would a radio-controlled on/off switch to control the outlet be any more expensive? Of course, initially they’ll be somewhat more expensive, but if they use standardized tech then over time the price will come down, just as it does for all electronics.


“The limitations of BEV technology mean we will never get off of petroleum.”

Fast-enough is the goal, not the energy density, and speed (and mess), of a gasoline fill. BEVs are a better proposition for most, and do a job that will soon leave the “never get off” group quite small.


You can have a dumb outlet that is controlled by a single panel per block (similar to how paid parking is done in many places, it can even be the same machine). You do not need a full smart EVSE with its own payment system at every single parking space. The wireless payment system idea mentioned by others also works (it’s in use already by some cities for parking).

As for your cited installation costs, if an entire block is done at once, that would drastically decrease the amount of cost per space.

Whether it makes more sense to the per space unit a EVSE or rely on the EVSE included with the car depends on the number of outlets vs number of cars (if # of outlets greatly outnumber the number of cars, it makes more sense to make it a dumb outlet).

There is no technical barrier to any of this.


Dan, charging your car in an apartment or condo garage is dead simple. The electric car driver approaches the board, gets permission, and pays a set amount each month. If you don’t have permission and you charge at an outlet, you are in violation and get billed at a much higher rate as a penalty.
Adding outlets takes less than a man hour of work for each outlet. My condo didn’t even bill me for the outlet, they just bill me $25 a month and they admit that not even a Tesla would use that much electricity since we charge at night. So the association bills the right to plug in as a way to add a modern feature in an older building while making a profit on the deal.
L2 would be great, but it isn’t needed. And metering makes a simple issue needlessly complex.


Argh, would an edit function be a possibility?

they just bill me $25 a month _FOR THE RIGHT TO USE THE EXTRA ELECTRICITY_ and they admit that not even a Tesla would use that much electricity since we charge at night. So the association bills _ME FOR_ the right to plug in as a way to add a modern feature in an older building while making a profit on the deal.


Yes, overly complicated and overly expensive.

What’s needed is an EVSE (portable EV charger) with a built-in barcode scanner which can plug into any 110v or 220v outlet, coupled with outlets in parking lots and at curbside parking, outlets with a barcode ID and a radio-controlled on/off switch. The barcode and the wifi-connected scanner enable identification of the individual EV owner for billing purposes.

This tech, called “EV-Line”, is being implemented in South Korea by the Power Cube company.


Jim Gord

All States need to pass the equivalent of California’s right to charge your EV legislation – Bill AB 2565


I have been banging this drum over and over, especially in the comments of FCV-related articles.

Too many BEV proponents presume that everyone is as well-off as themselves, that they are homeowners with garages, etc. There are millions and millions of renters in America that will not be able to charge overnight at home any time soon, and without the ability to charge on cheap off-peak residential rates, EVs are not much (if any) of a cost savings.

We need a green solution for those who cannot charge at home, and if it’s not going to be hydrogen, then we need to get to work on something else. BEVs cannot replace gasoline by themselves.


Or, as noted elsewhere, we need to have 120V outlets at most parking spots. Combined with a method to bill the appropriate user for energy consumed, this would solve the problem as well. All cars are parked for 20+ hours/day. It’s just a matter of where, and getting an outlet nearby.


120V simply won’t cut it. 12 hours of charging at 120V will only get you about 40 miles; the average American driver logs 15K miles/year, which is more than 40 miles per day. Furthermore, most off-peak windows are less than 12 hours long, meaning that you’re cutting into your cost savings by charging on peak/partial-peak rates.

Long-range BEVs really need 240V to work. This is why Tesla doesn’t schedule Model S deliveries until after the 240V charger is already installed.


“This is why Tesla doesn’t schedule Model S deliveries until after the 240V charger is already installed.”
That is not true. There are plenty of Model S owners that drive only on 110V and are perfectly fine. While 110V is on the edge of acceptability, combined with occasional office/public charging and DC charging, it works pretty well to cover most of the population.


You are correct in stating that Tesla will not force buyers to install 240V; however, they do schedule delivery after installation. As to whether 110V is “perfectly fine”:



The overwhelming majority of commenters either relate a bad experience or recommend against it. Some say that it’s OK as long as you “top off” at a high-powered port; one might think they are referring to Superchargers, but Elon recently put the clamps on that, so…


“Some say that it’s OK as long as you “top off” at a high-powered port; one might think they are referring to Superchargers, but Elon recently put the clamps on that, so…”
Elon said excessive local charging is not allowed (AKA using superchargers exclusively for all your travel; there are people who do this, even when they they have home charging). If you are just topping off, it will not be excessive.

Also Elon has installed city superchargers in places like London and Hong Kong which are intended to be used by people who have no home charging.

Bill Howland
I haven’t read your links yet SD but I do know that with both the Roadster and S, and Rav4EV according to their brouchure, that 110 volt charging is 50% MORE costly than 220, whereas other automakers seem to charge their cars as efficiently at 110. I myself in the hot summer months try to use only 8 amps at 110, if I have the garage doors closed, since the space will get too hot and then all my juice goes to aircondition the battery. So in my case, 110 is the more efficient. As regards pulling up to a plug and using it, they just arrested someone on a british commuter train by STEALING ELECTRICITY TO CHARGE A CELL PHONE. Now me, there are certain chargePoints I dont go to anymore, specifically National Grid’s “Home of the Future”. Its a decent 200 volt 30 amp chargePoint, but they put it in the worst Ghetto area of town, and last time I charged there I was within a few feet of getting mugged, since the street was baracaded due to construction, and 2 guys were rapidly heading toward me before i got in my car, quickly turned in on, unplugged… Read more »

I agree, but also remember that 220v plugs are common and cheap. A requirement to install 220v plugs for those who ask is reasonable, and MUCH more palatable than asking them to go to full on EVSEs.


40 miles a day would cover the daily commutes of 78% of US commuters: http://www.statisticbrain.com/commute-statistics/

I’ve got a 26 mile round trip commute and 120V charging works just fine for me.

“Long-range BEVs really need 240V to work. This is why Tesla doesn’t schedule Model S deliveries until after the 240V charger is already installed.”

Where did you hear this? All Tesla wanted from me when I picked up my Model S was a very large check.

Bill Howland

“…very large check.”.

hehe, yeah, but at least Dan Myggen did call and was concerned about the 240 volt charging I had, since at the time I was the first user to try using the j1772 adapter at home. Unfortunately I used a Schneider EVLINK at the time, which was incompatible, until I modified their design when I saw Schneider’s engineering dept wasn’t going to help me. Dan said, “Gee, we hope you figure it out Bill!, of course, if you don’t we have our own stuff to sell you.”

Not really true. Most cars today can get about 4 miles / hour of L1. Even if we say that tomorrow’s cars will be larger and less efficient, we can still probably assume 3 miles. If the car is plugged in for 20 hours/day, that’s 60 miles/day at L1. The rest can be made up with occasional quick charging. An EV does not have to replenish from 0-100% every day unless the driver is actually depleting the battery every day. A larger battery does NOT mean they will necessarily drive more. Consider another example – a driver has a long commute of 80 miles/day. They can recharge at home/work for 60 miles/day. Their car can travel 200 miles/charge. Day 1: 200 – 80 = 120 (lowest) – charge back to 180. Day 2: 180 – 80 = 100 -> 160 Day 3: 160 – 80 = 80 -> 140 Day 4: 140 – 80 = 60 -> 120 Day 5: 120 – 80 = 40 -> 100 Day 6: 100 – 80 = 20 -> 80 Day 7: 80 – 80 = 0 -> 60 So once a week this driver would have to QC ~120 miles’ worth of electricity.… Read more »

You’re ignoring the problem of BEVs which use power while charging to keep the battery warm, in regions where it sometimes gets very cold in the winter. According to numerous reports, in some cases the battery pack barely gets charged at all even after hours plugged in. Plus, there’s probably no need to use a DC fast charger for a “quick boost” to recover from a long trip, if the car is plugged into a Level 2 charger.

Level 2 chargers will become standard for plug-in EV slow charging. Level 1 is too limited, especially going forward with longer-range BEVs.


True, I oversimplified the problem. And also true that cold weather provides a large hit to efficiency. I know this from personal experience.

My point isn’t that L1 will be all that anyone ever wants, but rather that it will suffice for far more than we give it credit – especially when combined with QC and larger batteries.


Sure, L1 charging will cover a lot of cases. But people don’t buy things that will cover just “most” cases of what they want them for; they buy things that will cover as close to all cases as they can afford.

It’s the same fallacy as arguing that most drivers don’t drive more than 40 miles a day, so a slightly-over-40-mile-range BEV should cover their needs. That may sound nice as a nice logical argument, but in reality it fails because most drivers often drive appreciably farther than 40 miles a day, and when it comes to buying a car, most people won’t allow themselves to be limited to one that can’t drive farther than an average day’s driving range.

Are there BEV owners who get along with just a L1 charger? Yeah, there are; we’ve seen posts from them right here on InsideEVs. But I’ll bet most of them have a second car that is a gasmobile that they use when the BEV is low on charge. There are exceptions; there are people who never drive very far in a day, period. But those are a rather small percentage of drivers.


20 hours/day means the majority of your charge is coming on peak/partial-peak rates, which eliminates the cost savings.

Speaking for myself, my off-peak window is only about 7-8 hours (depending on season).


Additionally, if you are charging 20 hours/day, you’re almost certainly charging away from home, so you can add commercial profit overhead to your costs.

But more importantly: arguing for L1 doesn’t really solve anything. There is no significant cost savings in installing a 120V outlet vs. a 240V outlet, nor in buying a L1 EVSE vs. a L2 EVSE. The main costs are in making sure that the electricity is billed properly; if you’re going to install a smart EVSE to accomplish this task, you might as well install a L2.

Doug (dhanson865)

Your math is a bit off. If I charge my Leaf on 120V for 12 hours I get 12kWh which is good for 48 to 54 miles on cheapo summer tires or 54 to 60 miles on better LRR tires.

I’m saying you get 1 kWh per hour charging on 12A x 120V – charging inefficiencies and then you get 4 to 5 miles per kWh depending on your tires and driving style.

Doug (dhanson865)

edit not available: my reply above was @Spider-Dan’s 3:03 post.


The Leaf has a 24kWh battery that is EPA rated at 75 miles (3.125 miles/kWh). 12kWh would therefore give you 37.5 miles of EPA-rated range.

For what it’s worth, Tesla’s charging calculator says it takes 12h16m to charge 40 miles of range on a Model S (@110V/12A).


I’m guessing you don’t own or have not driven a Leaf. The advertised capacity is 24kwh. However only about 22kwh is usuable. The Epa rating is 84 miles not 75. Most of us are getting way better than that. My record is 115 miles on one charge. On a daily basis in the summertime i can achieve 100 miles per charge. I recently traveled 76 miles while pulling my new Seadoo Spark watercraft on a single trailer (about 600lbs total) There were also 3 people in the car. My lifetime average over 77,000 miles is 4.5 miles per kwh. And yes, i do drive on the highway. I’m the guy in the right lane going the speed limit. And i used to have a 35 mile commute to work everyday and it wouldn’t even take 8 hrs to fully recharge on a regular 120v outlet at work.


You are right: I don’t have a Leaf. (In fact, since I only have one EV, you could say that nearly every EV is one that I don’t have!) I pulled the 75mi range number from Wikipedia, which apparently needs to be updated. But that’s my own fault for not double-checking.

There are Volt owners that have gotten 70+ miles on a single charge, but I wouldn’t cite that to show that Volts get 70 miles to a charge. When citing range and mileage, I try to stick to EPA ratings, so that things like personal driving styles and local climate are excluded from the comparison.

In any case, even with an 84-mile range, and even if we take it as granted that the Leaf only uses 22kWh, that would mean that it gets an EPA-rated 3.81 miles/kWh, which works out to 45 miles for a 12-hour, 12kWh charge. I don’t know that this change really affects the discussion.

Murrysville EV

What year is your Leaf, and where in the country are you located?

My 12 Leaf has never achieved its range rating, and in the depths of its third Pittsburgh winter I had a max range of 36 miles (or 30 miles @ 80%, not the 50 miles the guess-o-meter said). This summer it’s up to a whopping 60 miles if I charge to 80%, but I’ve never driven it that far to prove it.

My SOH is now 86% after 25k miles. I simply can’t imagine achieving the range or mi/kWh you have. I am also that guy in the right lane driving the speed limit – your comment made me laugh.

Bill Howland

ONly 60 miles in the summer but you never drive that far because you don’t want to get stranded?

That’s a shame. My friend Brian here also tells me his 2012 Leaf isn’t what it used to be.

Sounds like, effectively, I can go as far in my ELR on batteries as you can in your Leaf since going completely dead isn’t a concern. I get a minimum of 45 miles and once I got 54 miles per charge, before the engine started.

The Nissan Leaf otherwise is a very nice car. Too bad, in even moderate climates, the car is such a dispointment. A car that you can’t drive anywhere is not of much use.


Not all apartments lack the ability to charge. Some apartment/townhome configurations allow for charging.

While it doesn’t solve the problem for everybody, the solution for now for EV fans who rent, is to move to a rental property where you can plug in.

I had a temporary rental condo for job reasons, and I just looked through ads looking for attached car ports or garages and I found 3 properties fairly easily where I could charge at night. It was actually a condo with an attached garage. It worked fine charging at 110.


You think FCV will be a solution to those less well off people wanting to go green?

The fact of the matter is that it’s trivial to put charging posts up on sidewalks, in garages etc. etc. The only thing that’s causing problems is idiotic people who are afraid of the new and unknown.


Again, if it isn’t hydrogen, then it needs to be something else. Hydrogen is the current best complementary option to BEV, so I support that with the belief that continued investment and research will drive down costs (exactly as they have with battery tech).


Do you also believe that “continued investment and research” will finally produce perpetual motion, after centuries of fruitless attempts? Affordable or practical hydrogen fuel is impossible for the same reason: Basic physics and the Laws of Thermodynamics.

In theory, batteries or capacitors (or something in between) could have energy density equal to that of gasoline. That’s an enormous potential for improvement.

Contrariwise, the limitations and impracticalities of hydrogen fuel are all due to the physical properties of hydrogen itself, and no amount of R&D is going to change that. Hydrogen fuel is fine for the booster stage of large rockets, but not your car.


I don’t see how the laws of thermodynamics make it impossible for hydrogen electrolysis to become more cost effective than refined gasoline.

But again: if it’s not hydrogen, then it needs to be something else. I don’t see any better solution on the table that addresses the shortcomings of BEV charging.

M Hovis

BEVs only make up half of the answer for the plug-in world. PHEVs fill in many of the gaps you are discounting by using BEVs only.

I am an EV enthusiast. This is a site catering specifically to EVs. The site considers the hydrogen argument as a rebuttal.

It seems a little one sided to argue constantly about small specifics of the electric infrastructure while painting in broad strokes when speaking of hydrogen. Dan if you would like to submit a hydrogen rebuttal to the infrastructure case, I am sure I could talk the editors into posting it.


Long-term, PHEVs keep us on petroleum. They are a good stopgap as we wait for BEV technology to mature, and they can work as a solution for those who have existing access to 120V outlets but not 240V or a L2 charger. But ultimately, I would prefer to see us in a BEV+FCV market instead of a BEV+PHEV+ICE market.

Whether this site considers hydrogen a rebuttal is… not really my concern, I guess? I’m not in the business of providing content for the site. The primary point to take away from my comments is that in order to get off of petroleum for good, I think we need a supplemental technology.

If you believe that BEVs alone can eliminate petroleum, then an article like this is a great place to make that argument… but it’s also a place for commenters like me to explain why we disagree.

M Hovis

You misunderstand my offer. I consider you to be extremely intelligent Dan, and offer you the genuine space to share your ideas. I am not a staff member, simply a contributor like yourself.
We share common ground on our desire to eliminate fossil fuel. My genuine fear is over the method that hydrogen will be reformed. I fear that the the oil companies will not choose the environmental path for reforming.

I am very much a fan of the extender approach to EVs. The extender may come in many options. For an option to work for me, I need the fueling pump to be within 5 miles of my home or somewhere in that vicinity. I can see that happening in dense cities, but not in rural America.

I obviously believe that the EV infrastructure is solvable.

Dan, keepum coming


I’ll think about it and see what I can come up with. 🙂

M Hovis said: “I am an EV enthusiast. This is a site catering specifically to EVs. The site considers the hydrogen argument as a rebuttal.” More specifically, InsideEVs is a site focusing on highway-capable plug-in EV cars, light trucks, and motorcycles. EVs, or electric vehicles, is a category covering a much broader spectrum, from e-bikes to diesel-electric train locomotives to electricity-powered boats and planes. FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles) are no more a “rebuttal” to PEVs than a steam-powered car which uses gasoline to heat the boiler is a “rebuttal” to ICEVs. In both cases, it’s a massively inefficient way to use the same source of energy to power a car; so inefficient that it can never compete even with current technology, let alone future improved tech. We EVangelists are not worried that “fool cell” cars will ever actually give real competition to PEVs (Plug-in EVs). We’re annoyed because any money or time or energy spent trying to develop production FCEVS, or the hydrogen fuel infrastructure necessary to fuel them, is money or time or energy which is wasted, rather than actually contributing to the EV revolution. Furthermore, we recognize that one of the main drivers of the “hydrogen economy”… Read more »

“We need a green solution for those who cannot charge at home, and if it’s not going to be hydrogen, then we need to get to work on something else. BEVs cannot replace gasoline by themselves.”

It can with enough infrastructure, esp when we have so many options (110V, 220V, DC charging, battery swapping). Keep in mind this report is talking about 2013 infrastructure. When EVs reach one quarter to one third of the market (which it can easily do even with current infrastructure even with the home charging situation) no doubt the infrastructure will be completely different. EVen now, the infrastructure picture is completely different than in 2013.

It seems when we look at hydrogen we always assume the infrastructure is completely built out like gasoline stations. If the same report was done on hydrogen, the amount of population it can currently cover on the order of 1000 vehicles (maybe not even that). That’s probably something like 0.0005%.


Battery swapping is not a realistic solution. Automakers don’t even share battery formats among their own models; the idea of a consistent battery format among different makes is not plausible. Even Elon Musk agrees that battery swapping is not viable.

Commercial charging (be it Level 2 or DC) eliminates the cost savings that makes EVs financially attractive; you need cheap home off-peak charging rates. It is also too slow (a problem that doesn’t really apply to charging overnight).

I don’t see how more EV sales will change the facts on the ground about curbside parking or the costs to install metered EVSEs in parking lots. These logistical problems have almost nothing to do with battery technology or EVSE equipment costs; they are primarily about trenching costs, proper billing, and who will pay for installation. If it were simply a technology problem (like EV range or $/kWh), time would automatically solve it.


When Google Fiber came to install a fiber optic line up to our house, they didn’t whine about trenching costs. They just did it, trenching included.

There’s no technological barrier here to installing 220v outlets in parking lots and at curbside parking, or even installing outlets with a wirelessly controlled on/off switch. All that’s needed is sufficient demand. Perhaps power companies will pay for the buildout; perhaps entrepreneurs will pay for it, hoping to make up the investment in subscription fees; perhaps municipal governments will have to mandate it, like municipal water lines and sewer lines. Practically, it will be a combination of all of the above.


If Google offered Google Fiber across the country, they would put all other ISPs out of business within a couple of years. It is not a good example to cite, as Google does not really operate that program to make a profit.

Your question as to who will pay for the buildout is precisely the problem. Unlike oil companies and gas stations, utilities have proven unwilling to enter the commercial charging market; private charging companies would sap away the fuel cost savings that underlie one of EVs’ primary market advantages; government subsidies can make any technology (including H2) affordable for the consumer.

Spider-Dan said: “Unlike oil companies and gas stations, utilities have proven unwilling to enter the commercial charging market…” That is a generality which holds true until now, but we can hope it’s in the process of changing. See, for example: http://www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/newsdetails/index.page?title=20150209_pge_proposes_major_build-out_of_electric_vehicle_charging_stations “…private charging companies would sap away the fuel cost savings that underlie one of EVs’ primary market advantages…” That’s why some of us find the new “EV-Line” tech to be an exciting innovation; a way of providing 220v charge points which don’t require installation of an EVSE at every point. I can easily see an alliance between an installer and an electric utility to install such a system. “…government subsidies can make any technology (including H2) affordable for the consumer.” H2 is too expensive even for a government boondoggle, and this will rapidly become more and more apparent over time. I predict that within 18 months, government subsidies for building new hydrogen stations will have largely ceased here in the USA; it may take a few more years for that to happen in Japan. The question about the “hydrogen economy” isn’t whether or not it’s ever going to be viable, but just how long politicians and some of the… Read more »

“Your question as to who will pay for the buildout is precisely the problem. Unlike oil companies and gas stations, utilities have proven unwilling to enter the commercial charging market; private charging companies would sap away the fuel cost savings that underlie one of EVs’ primary market advantages; government subsidies can make any technology (including H2) affordable for the consumer.”

That’s false equivalencies. Gas stations are commonly built because close to 100% of cars are powered by gas (or diesel). The reason why few have stepped up onto the plate to built public stations is because plug-ins make up less than 1% of the market at this point. The core point is that with current infrastructure we can power almost 60% of our fleet. You seriously don’t think the situation will change when it reaches even just a fraction of that?

In contrast, there is no pathway for hydrogen stations to grow without lots of government money because of the chicken and egg problem.

As for private companies sapping up savings, compared to hydrogen where there are NO savings to be had, this is not a big deal.


We do need to require charger wiring on new homes as Palo Alto does. Parking lots need to have chargers as Hawaii requires.


I don’t know if this is the bill you’re talking about, but the only one I could find requires a minimum of 1 charger for parking lots of 100 spaces or more.

When ~half of drivers don’t have access to charging, a <=1% increase in charger access is not a sufficient solution.

Art Isbell

The law that Spider-Dan mentioned is the only one that I, a Hawaii EV owner and apartment dweller, am aware of. While it reads well, it has not been enforced at all. During the 18 months that if took me to jump through all of the hoops necessary to install an EV charging circuit in my apartment parking garage parking space, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find an unoccupied public charging station due to the rapidly growing ratio of plugin EV’s to public charging stations. If this law had been enforced, it would have been easier to charge an EV without having one’s own charging circuit.

philip d

Oh not this again.

“Access to parking and an outlet, as PHEVs require charging access. 56% of U.S. households have access to charging.”

This makes is sound like only 56% of households have any chance of plugging in.

This study is lazy and doesn’t bother to look at the numbers that count. The question shouldn’t be how many households currently have an existing plug and a parking spot. It should be how many households have any dedicated spot and the ability to install a plug inside or out.

That’s going to be a wildly different percentage. There are people that live in detached house that have garages currently without a dedicated plug. There are those with no garages but with driveways that could have an exterior plug installed. The same goes for trailers which are classified differently than detached homes. The same also goes for attached townhomes, condos, and even apartments with dedicated spots.

Any of these scenarios could yield a plug with a simple low cost installation.


Thank you.


If 44%, ok, let’s say 15% of households were driving EVs this would be a HUGE result and the snowball would be underway and perhaps a much wider scale public charging infrastructure build-out would have already occurred to help the others get charging access.

By the time even 6-7% of households have EVs in their garages, we should be seeing a quadrupling or more of national DC FC networks and charge sites and a bunch more L2 type solutions.

My view is that cars should eventually all go DC FC and skip putting chargers on board. Home slower DC chargers can be built and sold. There is no reason to sell EVs with the extra charging circuits on board to do the transformation of 240V or 120V to the battery’s main voltage and convert the AC to DC. Let’s try to lower EV prices by lowering the content.

This is a surprisingly thorough coverage of the subject, and makes many good points. I especially liked the one about autonomous driving cars able to seek their own charge points, for apartment dwellers without access to a home charge point. Let’s keep in mind that technology changes society, often in unexpected ways. Sure, today a lot of people live where charging a car would be inconvenient or even impossible. But in the early days of the Model T Ford, many people lived where there was no place to park a car, and no paved streets to drive them on. The motorcar revolution changed our roads and our cities; the EV revolution will do the same. There are a few points in the article that I seriously question, especially the claim that “almost 25%” of Americans don’t use a car. Other than those who live in very high population density cities such as New York or Chicago, almost every American either drives or lives in a family with one or more cars. Even those who depend on mass transit or carpooling to commute to work, often have a car available for use in the evening or on weekends. The article ends… Read more »

This is a dumb article, with at most some validity in 2013, and with diminishing validity in the next few years as batteries get larger, fast charging options get more common, technology advances, and EV models become more varied.

The Model X alone would start to chip away at the size and towing capacity issue, albeit at a price beyond most household’s reach. By 2018 or so, we’ll have more options — Model 3, Bolt, longer range Leaf, etc.

The lack of a parking spot and plug is the closest to having some validity going forward. However, as the wars on the Tesla forums demonstrate, with a big enough battery and local fast charging, it is possible to reduce or eliminate charging at home or work and only go to a fast charger as needed.


Elon Musk has already stated he will be (or perhaps already has) sent out a letter to Model S owners reminding them that Superchargers are only for long-distance travel, and are not intended to replace slow charging at home or work.

We can expect Tesla Motors to gradually move to put limits on local charging. They cannot afford to pay for a significant percentage of their customers to use Superchargers for most of the charging.


I wonder what percentage of the population couldn’t join the gas revolution from horse drawn carriage back in the day, because their homes didn’t include gas pumps…

In 1905 there was only one purpose-built gas station in the entire US. The second gas station opened in 1907. The following year, the Model T rolled off assembly lines. Sure, gas was available elsewhere, but not nearly as prevalent as it is today. You had to go to the general store, hardware store, blacksmith, or pharmacist.

But still, more than a century later, what percentage of the US population can fill up their gas cars at home? 0%. And we are complaining about 58% that can’t charge at home?


The reason why we are talking about the percentage of people who cannot charge at home is because charging away from home eliminates the cost savings over ICE while also being between 1/40 and 1/400 as fast to refuel.

M Hovis
The future of billing is yet to be determined. Quick charging will probably be at least as expensive as gas. That’s OK, for it should only be used for long distance travel. Workplace charging could evolve the same as expecting an employer to provide health care. I don’t expect an employer to give the electricity away for free, and I would expect the cost of the EVSE to be amortised over time. Not everyone in the work place will need to charge there. Many will do so from home. For those who do, you keep holding onto a single thought pattern on trenching the entire parking lot. This article is discussing a twenty year window. Consider where autonomous parking might solve this problem in that twenty year window. You might add a new bank of chargers not in the perceived front, but anywhere it makes economical sense to do so. As for unknown cost, no one really knows what they really plan to charge for hydrogen. I kinda accept that since it is early and I kinda don’t. I want my electricity to be clean and want it from renewables. I will vote only for candidates that show us a… Read more »

“What will we pay for certified renewable hydrogen??”

Currently, about $15 per kilo. If, that is, you can find a “renewable hydrogen fuel” station that’s actually open, and has enough hydrogen to fill your car. Considering how very slowly those stations produce fuel, that’s unlikely.

Will that price come down substantially in the future? No, the cost cannot be significantly reduced, partly because building an H2 fueling station requires expensive, complex equipment which gas stations don’t need; and partly because of numerous irreducible inefficiencies in producing the hydrogen and getting the hydrogen to (and into) the “fool cell” car. The high cost of both fuel and fueling stations are two of the reasons why hydrogen fueling stations will never become commonplace.

I think this is a really good story and makes some good points. On one hand it suggests that we could have around 50 x as many EV’s on the road in the US today with almost no change to the infrastructure. This kinda begs the question what is holding back the flood? On the other side of the study though there is clearly a big percentage of the population that will not be able to get an EV because they can’t charge it. IMO 62% is very high and I suspect that could be reduced with little effort or cost but I am not sure how low, perhaps 30-40%? This leads to 2 big questions: How do we get market penetration of EV’s to 50%+? What do we need to do to get the last 30-40% of people into an EV? I am assuming the goal is zero emissions in the next 30-50 years. I think the first 50% is evolution the 2nd 50% is less clear to me especially that last 30-40% that can charge at home. What I think we need to be doing is pushing the easy wins whilst being open minded and supportive the “crazy”… Read more »
Just_Chris asked: “How do we get market penetration of EV’s to 50%+? “What do we need to do to get the last 30-40% of people into an EV?” Hopefully a business model will emerge that will make for-profit public EV charge points affordable to install for the installer, and affordable for the customer in not costing much more than the base kWh charge for electricity. I can easily envision that this could happen as more electric customers turn to community solar power, leaving the electric companies looking for new sources of revenue to make up the difference. The “EV-Line” tech offers more affordable charge points by eliminating the need for a separate EVSE at every point, so that should help significantly in building out a widespread public charging system. Over time, we should also see municipal building codes revised to mandate “smart” 220v outlets in newly built or renovated parking lots (including apartment building parking lots) and at curbside parking in residential areas. “Smart” wirelessly controlled outlets will enable anyone with a compatible portable EVSE to charge at the outlet, and allow the individual EV owner to be billed for electricity consumed. As for the last 10-20% or so of… Read more »
Bill Howland
Just nitpicking a bit Mark: WATER HEATERS: The only people around me who had water heaters were those in the 50’s who heated with oil. And today’s HIGH RECOVERY (3800-5500 watt) units were very rare, mostly since utilities in general did not allow them on residential lines. The most common for a 2000 sq ft house was a 52 gallon 1500/1000 watt heater. The 1000 watt heater was on a billing meter with a self contained time switch that implemented mechanical time of day billing. The lower element would only energize 11pm – 7 am when the rates were low, by then it was assumed that 95% of the tank was stone cold. Since 1000 watts is 3413 btu/hour, and 8 hours provided the heat(27304 btu) for a 63 1/4 degree rise of 52 gallons of water, this was an intrinsic load shifter. Since that time, residential/commercial rates have changed, at least by me. Right now there is no effective limit on the power a residence can draw, or when. And demand charges are low for commercial customers with residence charges relatively high. But dual-element water heaters exploit the fact of thermal storage, since, since water is a poor conductor… Read more »
M Hovis

Thanks for the contribution Bill. I personally consider your input the IEV defacto standard for electrical clarifications. I think your input shows that the process of adding a potable hot water service was even more involved. My point under “natural change” is simply that it happened, and it will happen again for EVs.
Thanks again Bill for the added clarity.

Bill Howland

Yeah no problem Mark, you wrote a very interesting, thought provoking article as usual.

Its interesting how times change: I can remember being a small kid and having a 10 kva transformer running 18 homes. Now, in a brand new subdivision, (with water furnaces – ‘geothermal’), they have 50 kva transformer pads in front of EVERY house.

(I could claim the utility really doesn’t know whats its doing since these homes have only 200 amp electrics, but it DOES show these ‘energy efficient’ homes have huge electric bills in february and march).

THe funny thing is these 1/2 million dollar homes (different house than what i was talking about – this pricey house at least had ONE separate 15 amp circuit to the garage).; (very pricey for this area), also have to pay billing charges for Natural Gas service, since although they essentially electrically heated space heat and hot water, the builder insists on a gas log fireplace in the living room!

Bill Howland

Of course, the one GOOD thing about the 2014 NEC car stall requirement, is that the homeowner or his electrician could easily convert the run at each end to handle , say in a 2 car garage, 2- 16 amp evse’s, one for each stall, by putting in 2-240 volt 20 amp recepticles, and putting some double pole breakers in back at the service panel.

M Hovis

Question for you Bill (3 parts). If you were designing a new home for the future public, how would you outfit a) the garage circuits, b) outdoor circuits in case of no garage, c) If a person takes the time to run a EV circuit in an existing house, what should they do to plan for the future EVs. Try to consider wireless and autonomous in your response.

Bill Howland
a). The 2014 NEC requires basically 2 12/2 romex’s for a 2 stall garage, 4 for 4, 1 for 1. As mentioned before these lend themselves to trivially easy conversions to 20 amp 240 volt recepticles for 16 amp EVSES (enough for any Volt, Elr or SparkEV). I think thats good enough since any other plugs in the garage have to be on a separate circuit. B). I believe in a ‘Car Port’ there is still the outlet requirement, 1 per pseudo-stall C). What some upscale communities are doing is running 1″ plastic pipe empty to the garage. That seems reasonable to me since you can get 100 amps through there. D). If we’re assuming PLUGLESS, read my comments on the new lower priced models on that blog. These things draw TWICE the current of direct plug ins, and are a very ratty load (134% Total Harmonic Current Distortion). Right now, its only 28 amps, and I’ve disagreed with the salesman that they should put these on 40 amp circuits, not 30 (which they themselves realize since they put them on 6-50P plugs, not 6-30 P, but they’ll never admit it). In summary, these 3.0 kw models (not 3.3 as… Read more »
I’m breaking this out into a separate comment, to avoid the restricted “box” of nested replies: Spider-Dan said: “I don’t see how the laws of thermodynamics make it impossible for hydrogen electrolysis to become more cost effective than refined gasoline.” Inefficiencies in energy production and consumption can be analyzed in terms of Thermodynamics, and also in terms of economics. The economic analysis is easier to understand. The term “EROI”, meaning Energy Return On Investment, is used as a yardstick of the ratio of energy expended to produce the energy vs. the amount of energy gained when used. “The EROI for production of the oil and gas industry was about 20:1 from 1919 to 1972, declined to about 8:1 in 1982 when peak drilling occurred, recovered to about 17:1 from 1986–2002 and declined sharply to about 11:1 in the mid to late 2000s.” (source 1) Let’s assume, conservatively, that the current EROI for gasoline from petroleum is 10:1; that is, we get at least 10 times as much energy from burning gasoline as is invested in producing that gasoline. A typical gasmobile is about 25% efficient in its use of energy in the gas (so-called “efficient diesels” are a bit more… Read more »

The 2007 article you cite points out that H2 is not a fuel source, but rather an “energy carrier”; you input energy into the process of creating hydrogen so that you may transport the energy in a more convenient form, and then recapture (some of) that energy later. I think that’s a fair analysis.

However, if we accept that analysis, then it doesn’t make sense to evaluate the EROI of H2 as a fuel source. After all, we just determined that it’s not a fuel source but an energy transport mechanism.

In this context, it is not appropriate to compare the EROI of hydrogen directly to gasoline (a fuel). That would be like evaluating how much energy it takes to build a lithium-ion battery and then determining how much energy that battery (on it’s own) will produce. A lithium-ion battery is intended to store energy, not generate it.

So to borrow a quote from that article: “it doesn’t pay to have an energy regime with an EROI of less than one.” By this standard, Li-ion batteries don’t make sense, as you get less energy out of them than what you use to charge them in the first place.



You can’t compare primary energy to energy carrier and you can’t assume cost and efficiency are the same thing.

If you want to use EROI you have to start at primary energy, so wind turbine EROI is 80:1 (ie a wind turbine repays the energy used to make it in 3 months and lasts for 20 years), electrolyser 60% efficient => 48:1 compression, transport and storage 60% efficient 28:1=> 50% FC 14:1

Oil to petrol 10:1 =>25% efficient ICE 2.5:1

Wind turbine to BEV 80:1=> 90% transmission 72:1 => 80% charge / discharge 58:1

BEV is 4 times better than H2 but you have to have a plug and you have to be plugged in while the wind is blowing. IMO if you can live with a BEV it is the best option if a BEV can’t meet your needs then you need something else.


Can you explain those numbers for H2 in more detail? I didn’t follow how you arrived at 14:1.

Bill Howland

Solar power in Upstate NY will apparently have its limits.

In the agreement I have with my utility, only a maximum of 1% of residential customers may have net metering.

So this is automatically written into our Net Metering agreements that the utility doesn’t have to put up with too much of this stuff.


Solar caps are generally state law, AFAIK. The power the local utilities have to leave >1% unconnected may be limited. The caps were a first move in accommodating solar, years ago. The news tends to be about what is getting traded away, to lift them higher.

Bill Howland

Its state, but so what? 1% of NG pertains to NG, 1% of NYSEG pertains to NYSEG and 1% of ConEd, etc. The trigger at my home is when 1% OF National Grid residential customers, by GENERATION have solar. Nothing else matters, and what is going on at the other companies, or even commercial or industrial penetration is irrelevant.

The Phinergy aluminum air range extender battery due around 2020 or so will solve the problem of not having available charging outlets. The range extender battery will continually charge your main lithium ion battery for 1000 miles or so. Then, when the range extender battery is used up, you simply get a new range extender battery installed at your local “filling station”. Your lithium ion battery will constantly be charged by the aluminum air range extender battery. No need to plug in. Plugging in is advised for those who have access to plugs. But for those who don’t have access to plugs, the aluminum air range extender battery will do the job of recharging your lithium ion battery instead. All you have to do is add some de-ionized water to your “tank” every 200 miles or so, and who knows, they may be able to automate that process as well. Check out the videos on Phinergy with their test Citroen car, as well as their website. That is where I obtained my information. Also, check out Alcoa aluminum, Phinergy’s partner in the aluminum air battery production. Alcoa estimates 2019-2020 as the date when these range extender batteries will go into… Read more »

I have not seen any apartments with outside outlets. The last apartment I was in some of their garage’s had 1 outlet. I had to use an extension cord for my Volt which GM does not like. However I did use the 12 hr slow charge. While traveling last yr I saw no motels or hotels with outlets or chargers. However some KOAs have chargers and they have outlets. All EV drivers need to call Walmart and other business and ask where are the Level 1 and 2 outlets for EVs. Any business like Walmart that says they are environmentally concerned should have outlets for EVs. All Whole Food stores and trader joes should have outlets for EVs.

Bill Howland

I rather wondered the same thing at least in NY State since the business gets a 50% credit for installation expenses.

A big store could get a lot of “GOOD WILL” going, and if they installed 1 or 2 15 amp chargers per store it wouldn’t cost them much in electric charges, even if they were “Complementary Units”.

And at 50% off, why dont they do it? Or, if the business is really penny-pinching frugal, Re-purpose a Duplex outlet, and pay $70 for a green “EV CHARGING ONLY” Plug and get a $35 tax credit for the sign!