EV vs ICE fuel time

FEB 23 2013 BY MARK HOVIS 31

Like so many new technologies, there are more paradigm shifts to cross than the technologies themselves.

As any EV owner knows your day begins and ends with the plugging and unplugging of your EV which seems to somehow annoy the ICE driver who sees it as a cumbersome task. So I thought I would take the industrial engineering approach and break it down.

EV:  You have to enter and exit your vehicle at the end of each day so that is  excluded from the laborious task of plugging in. The time begins with removing the charge cable, placing in a holder and closing the cover on the charge compartment. The return action begins with pressing a button or unlatching a lever, removing the charge cable from the holder and plugging in. Each action will take 5-15 seconds. A week would equate to approximately 1-3 minutes.



ICE: With a little bad luck you will waste the 1-3 minutes waiting at the light to make your turn into the gas station or waiting your turn at the pump, but there is no practical way to measure that so we will omit, as long as we “admit” we have been there. We will start with the navigation into the gas station 5-15 seconds, turn off and exit the vehicle 5 seconds, retrieving gas card, swiping and returning gas card for safety 5-15 seconds (or worse waiting in line to pay the attendant), answering the questions at the pump, zip code, type fuel, debit or credit, do you want a car wash with that? 5 -15 seconds, checking for the ever popular card readers, filling 10 – 15 gallons 2 minutes (this varies), return to your vehicle and start vehicle 5-15 seconds, exit the gas station and hope you did not miss the light again 5-15 seconds.

So many things can go wrong on your way to the pump yet we have accepted it as a way of life. From inclement weather pumping in the rain, snow etc. Worrying about the ever growing credit card theft, and traffic. Hey, wait a minute! I am annoyed with filling my ICE! We have been perfecting the ICE for 100 years and this is where we are?


Chevrolet Volt With A Wireless Charging System

Chevrolet Volt With A Wireless Charging System

We have only begun to perfect the EV. The new surge of EVs is less than three years old now and already the need to plug in is being eliminated.

The basics behind cordless charging are fairly simple.  You drive your car into your garage, while lining up your car’s ‘hot spot’ over a charging mat, generally accompanied by a series of directional prompts.  You then exit your car and go about your day.  No more plugging your car in.  No more surprise moments the next day if you had forgotten to do so. Well even this will be outdated by 2014, the Infiniti LE will handle the task automatically with a single push of a button.


So for those arguing that refueling is a hassle we agree! The time along with pumping in the rain, being at risk for digital theft, and simply waiting for the pump to stop. The paradigm is that you have to wait for the electric car to charge when in fact it is just the opposite. Sorry for the smile as we drive past the pump.

An update to this article. Please take the time to read the blogs below from all over the globe, for they are truly as rich with information as the article itself. Thanks to all that posted.

Categories: Charging, General

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31 Comments on "EV vs ICE fuel time"

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Another way to explain it to people is ask them, “Would you rather plug your cell phone in each night, or drive to a cell phone fueling station each week to fill it up?”. Same situation as gas fueling. Standing outside, waiting in line, credit card, drip some on your car/hands, etc.

Great topic Mark. The example I use for people is I NEVER have to stop for fuel on my way to work. I am full everyday when I leave.

Another good comparison is asking someone how long does a cell phone take to charge from 0% to 100%? Nobody cares because they are sleeping. The notion of needed to refill 90-100% is a legacy ICE issue since you can’t fill at home and you can’t leave the vehicle as it fills.

One more, if you could put a gas pump in your garage, that filled your car while you sleep, and the fuel was 1/5 of the station, would you want it?

My one point of disagreement, I have no desire for wireless charging. Plugging the car in is so easy, I don’t want to pay the 5% tax (in inefficiency) for the “wireless convenience”. I also want my friends and family to easily use my EVSE (J1772) if they are at my house.

With my ICE vehicle, I have had several times a year when I was late starting to work and realized I didn’t have enough gas to make it. Had to drive out of my way to get to a gas station, and take even longer to get to work. The only time I had a problem with my Leaf was when I was sick and thus forgot to plug it in the night before. Had to take the backup ICE vehicle, which had enough gas fortunately. Far prefer to start out with a “full tank” each day (or however much I think I will need for the day). Haven’t ever run out of electrons after 20 months of Leaf ownership.

The typical counter-arguments revolve around the road trip scenario. Most people go beyond 100 miles at least occasionally. The key again is being able to leave your car while it charges. In the Tesla example, after 250 miles, you need to stop for 45 minutes to an hour. Most people will stop anyway for a meal after 250 miles. Yes, it’s a minor inconvenience, but given that the other 95% of the time is spent charging as you describe, I’ll take it! I’m guessing most would agree.

not really just an “inconvenience”. you may have to drive 20 miles out of your way to find a charger, or be forced to stay in a more expensive hotel that has a charger. you might run out of juice on the road, which means that tow trucks need charging batteries on board — is that going to be a $50 charge that gets you 20 miles? There ARE services that will plan your trip so you’re near a charger at night. This does not help, though, for day trips (200 miles there, 200 miles back) where the meal is far from any fast charger. And now you have to coordinate your meal time with your charge time? OMG! BTW, the slow chargers take 4-8 HOURS.

Couple more points related to refueling … it is likely that an EV’s electricity is made entirely from domestic (often renewable) sources of energy. That’s probably not the case for gasoline.

Also in most places, electricity for EV charging has no equivalent to a gasoline tax (yet).

I was talking to someone very recently about this same “predicament”. I also added the selecting Credit or Debit , and answering the “Enter your ZIP code” prompt if one could even see them against the sun glare or with the LCD panel back-light not working, selecting NO I do not have a gas club card, NO I do not want a car wash, NO I do not care about “two packs of soda for a buck”, waiting to authenticate, selecting the fuel grade, if I could even figure out how to start the pump since almost every station is different, plugging in the nozzle and waiting at least 5 seconds for the pressure to equalize, fueling up on the first (slower) notch (if it is even there) to prevent the pump’s vapor recovery system from jipping me off while listening to deafening commercials blaring from a stupid heavily armored TV screen, then selecting YES to print a receipt, waiting for the receipt, realizing the thermal printer is busted or out of paper, locking my car, walking to the attendant’s booth or “inconvenience” store, waiting in line, begging him for a receipt on pump #13, walking back only to find… Read more »

vdiv, that particular EV1 commercial was back when GM didn’t want to make them. They never even showed more that a portion of the car, and the whole thing looks & sounds like something out of Solyent Green.

Hi Bill,

Call me weird, but I actually like this commercial a lot. Maybe not as a car commercial or its visuals, but it reflects the sentiment, the a-ha! moment, the transformation that people experience when they get an EV.

As far as GM not wanting to make the EV1, big portions of the company and its dealership network still do not want to make or deal with the Volt either. The more things seem to change the more we see that they are really the same.

So many of the benefits deal with the quality of life, and thus lack statistical backup that true appreciation of these benefits, in the absence of imagination and an open mind, can only come with actual experience.

To list a few…

Freedom from worrying about price hikes in gasoline. I don’t even know what price gas costs as I’m writing this.

Quiet relaxation at the wheel.

Instant response allowing one to quietly jet through yellow lights without a ba-a-ah-ROOOOM!! noise to draw attention from anyone

I agree that charging is much more convenient than pumping, assuming your EV is parked in a garage every night. I like the comment Josh made about charging a cell phone. Most people bave no idea how long it takes and usually the phone is not empty when you plug it in anyway. People always hear the worst case charging times (zero to full) and think that is what it will always take. People can’t grasp that you would not normally be charging from zero AND it is not required to charge it all of thr way before driving again.

Mark, great post.

This may help, I equate the pump with the laundromat.

It’s really been just automatic for me now to plug / unplug, the charge mat would be nice for my Volt, but if that would cause electricity transfer inefficiencies I ‘d still prefer to plug. I just don’t see the issue with plug-in routine even top up on weekends on “SUNSHINE POWER” and good to go another 72 km with EV in my case. The only time I get a tad worried if there is a bad thunderstorm – so far once I unplugged it and switch the charger off at the CB, small price to pay for all he benefits! So far close on 1900Km over two months and still over half the original tank of fuel that came with the car, may have to take it on a few more extended trips to get mine to 1/3 I’m aiming for. Love the Volt how sharp it is in traffic in L gear with just using the accelerator pedal – when you need it I’m still so impressed. Everyone I’ve had in the car are impressed – but it still needs a mind shift on the populations part – who appear to be very slow in picking up the… Read more »

The argument today is gassing time versus plugging time.

Sarah, ask your friends what their future grandchildren will be using for fuel in their cars. Gasoline? I believe gas will be rarely used for our cars in 50 years. Only for planes and heavy trucks.

After 6 months with my LEAF I have to agree. Pumping petrol seems to be an absolute mundane and pointless task. Even here in Australia where there’s no charge stations an electric car makes sense. Even though my garage can not house my electric car, I have to unlock the roller door, lift it up, plug in the car, pull the door down on top of the cable and then lock it again. This takes at least 30 seconds. Small price to pay when our petrol costs $6.70 a gallon. My work car is a big “powerful” V8 sedan. But ever since getting the LEAF, the work car now feels outdated, old, gutless dinosaur. Automatic gear box takes what seems an eternity to eventually apply power to the wheels! Drinks 11L/100km and is slow from the lights. Many times I’ve been late for an appointment because I had to fill it up. Even though the petrol station is only 5km out of my way, that’s 5km in the WRONG direction, 5 minutes waiting in line. 5 minutes filling up. 4 minutes going inside and waiting to pay. Then 5 minutes to drive that 5km back where I started from. So… Read more »

Great write-up, Mark! It is a good point that, more often than not, plugging in the car is much simpler and convenient than gassing up. Once people realize that, they’re usually hooked!

Here’s a page that Sarah could pass along to those petrolpuppet colleagues. It includes a section that factually compares a Nissan LEAF with a Nissan Versa hatchback, and echoes what you have explained about the latter’s supposedly “faster” refueling.


Mark H.

This is a unique piece and a great little analysis that everyone can understand. Leave it to an IE to come up with something like this.

Great Job!

Mark, I actually sell commercial EV charging stations (ChargePoint), so I’ll give you some of my other talking point as well, that people usually don’t even considering when discussing the ‘negatives’ of EV’s….the above posts have covered the ‘charging time’ topic pretty well…. “EV’s are Expensive”, and you pay a premium for them. 1) As mentioned, EV’s are only in their 3rd year of commercial development, as battery technology gets better, prices will drop. We’re already seeing the Leaf prices drop, as well as new models, like the Chevy Spark EV, will have lower prices (after rebates, the Spark will be around $25K). It also has 400ft lbs of torque!!! 2) $97K may sound like a lot for the Tesla Model S, but it keeps up with $250,000 sports cars, seats 5 luxuriously and has TWO trunks. “expensive” is relative, and apples to apples, its quite affordable. 3) EV’s have no oil to change, spark plugs, fan or timing belts, radiators to leak, valves to adjust/tune up, and the brakes easily go over 100,000 miles w/o a brake change due to regenerative braking. Since the batteries all now have 10yr/100K mile warranty, you need to factor in all those costs… Read more »

“So I thought I would take the industrial engineering approach and break it down:”

That’s what made it such a good article!!!.

Quick addition: That gas pump handle can be NASTY, and I don’t just mean the odorous petrol itself (which can be fragrant to a gearhead in the right mood), but all the grunge and grime from countless hands and bounces off slushy oily coffee spilled on ground. I know the public EVSEs will get similarly nasty as usage increases and time passes, but the one in my garage only has the dirt (and germs) that I (or my friends and family) put there (between cleanings). And wireless will make that even nicer.