National Science Foundation On Electric Car Chicken & Egg Problem

FEB 18 2015 BY MARK KANE 49

The chicken: More charging options could lead to more sales

The chicken: More charging options could lead to more sales

Lang Tong and Shanjun Li, researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., stated that the best solution to increase electric car sales is to build more public charging infrastructure, which would help overcome the chicken & egg problem.

According to the study, there is a direct relation between EV sales and the number of charging points:

The chicken: More charging options could lead to more sales

Tong and Li, whose research is part of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded INSPIRE project, contend limited infrastructure to support electric vehicles presents a major roadblock for greater acceptance.

The relatively small number of large-scale, public, vehicle-charging stations makes recharging electric vehicles inconvenient, if not impossible at times. Their analysis suggests that more charging stations are needed in parking garages in urban centers, parking lots in shopping malls and parking facilities in apartment complexes and business sites to accommodate consumer demand for convenient electric vehicle refueling.

Using a data set of quarterly electric vehicle sales in 353 metro areas from 2011 to 2013, the researchers found cities with more charging stations also have more electric cars. In their analysis, a 10 percent increase in the number of charging stations per million people in a city would result in a 10.8 percent increase in the market share of electric vehicles in that city.”

But the most important part of the study is that if subsidizing construction of charging stations is better solution to encourage EV sales, then the government should switch totally from tax incentives to infrastructure incentives as a cheaper, more effective way to reach US sales goals.

$7,500 tax credits contributed to ~48.5% of EV sales between 2011 and 2013, while the authors expect that the same amount of money would be sufficient to build 60,000 new charging points nationwide and that would increase sales five times.

If this is true, then the government is missing its EV sales goal by virtue of introducing the wrong incentives.

The egg: Electric vehicle charging could use a policy boost

The convenience and cost of recharging them is not the only factor that influences the purchase of electrical vehicles.

“The $7,500 tax credit policy for which electric vehicle buyers are eligible contributed to about 48.5 percent of electric vehicle sales from 2011 to 2013, which is a significant portion,” says Li, who is an Environmental and Energy Economics assistant professor at Cornell. “It is important to note that indirect network effects explained 42 percent of that sales increase.”

By contributing to sales of nearly half the electric vehicles sold during the research period, some would consider the tax policy a success. Tong and Li take another view.

The researchers maintain the money, which amounted to some $1.05 billion in subsidies, could have been used to build more than 60,000 charging stations instead of giving it to electric vehicle consumers. That number of potential charging stations is significant; it represents about half the total number of gasoline stations in the United States.

Moreover, based on their analysis, Tong, Li and their research colleagues say, 60,000 new charging stations could have led to five times more electric vehicles sold.

However, they report the tax subsidies had a net positive effect. The subsidies during the 2011 to 2013 study period brought about $200 million in long-term environmental benefits.”

So, the egg was first, right?

Source: The National Science Foundation

Categories: Charging, General

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49 Comments on "National Science Foundation On Electric Car Chicken & Egg Problem"

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More efficient step would be changing all building codes around the country and require all new built houses and apartment buildings to have proper wiring in place for each and every parking place.

That would be quite expensive considering the relatively small percentage of parking spaces in which an EVSE would eventually be installed. The intermediate step of requiring conduit and sufficient electrical panel capacity would be more acceptable. Pulling the necessary wiring and installing appropriate circuit breakers would not be very expensive.

Retrofitting to install an outdoor EV charge point generally involves digging a trench and probably cutting a section out of a sidewalk or paved parking area. That’s much more expensive than installing it when it’s built.

alohart said:

“…considering the relatively small percentage of parking spaces in which an EVSE would eventually be installed.”

It doesn’t make any sense to me that the EVSE has to be an auxiliary piece of equipment that every EV owner has to buy. Surely it won’t be long until that’s standard equipment -inside- the EV itself.

All the city or apartment building should need to provide is a 240v outlet, or possibly 120v in areas where the weather is mild.

I disagree. Prewiring a number of 30A circuits (outlet, not the EVSE) would be a very minor cost in new construction. It’s no different than adding dryer outlet, which is a commodity.

I still believe the dominant charging mode will be home charging for normal operation, exceptions being mainly long distance travel, and perhaps a few public stations for the odd unexpected journey.

“More efficient step would be changing all building codes around the country and require all new built houses and apartment buildings to have proper wiring in place for each and every parking place.”

Exactly. Instead of installing “public chargers”, a better use of tax money would be to install charge points in public parking lots. Also, cities should encourage or even subsidize entrepreneurs installing for-profit “hitching post” chargers for streetside parking, in neighborhoods where offstreet parking isn’t available.

There are a lot of people objecting to the idea of owning EVs because they don’t have a reserved parking place. If gas guzzlers are to be replaced with EVs, then eventually, nearly all public parking spaces must be equipped with slow chargers. And as this article points out, since we’re going to have to do that sooner or later, better sooner to encourage faster adoption.

Have you seen any recent pictures of Boston? How exactly would streetside “hitching post” chargers work in Boston during a snowy winter with giant mounds of snow covering the entire sidewalk except for a narrow shoveled path?

Presumably, exactly the same way that outdoor electric outlets in parking lots in Canada work, in areas where it gets so cold that lots of people use engine block heaters for their gas guzzlers. You may have heard that they sometimes get ice and snow during the winter in Canada. Not just Canada, but also Norway and other northern countries. Bostonians should be able to deal with it as easily as residents of Canada et al do.

Objecting that you’d have to spend a couple of extra minutes shoveling off the EV “hitching post” along with the parking space seems a rather desperate search for something, -anything- to complain about. You’d have to expend -much- more additional time and effort excavating an SUV vs. a compact car.

Yes, Bostonians should do what Canadians do when it snows: Stay indoors watching hockey with a few beers.

That’s better than jumping out of windows into snowbanks. No one in Canada does that when the game is on.

You OBVIOUSLY have NOT seen any recent pics of Boston this winter. Here are some pics of residential areas of Boston with street parking: Boston sidewalks are narrow, only 6 to 10 feet wide. When you shovel a path on the sidewalk you make a snow pile on the sidewalk near the curb, exactly where your proposed “hitching post” chargers would be located. There is no other place to put the snow because very often there are no front yards, so that is not an option. These snow piles where the chargers would be located have grown to over 6 feet tall!!! Even if you could dig out the charger, it would take HOURS not minutes. But where would you even put the snow from around the charger that you just dug out? Also, snow may be easy to shovel right after a snowfall, but just one freeze thaw cycle can turn it into a solid block of ice. Rural Canada is not urban Boston. Space is at a premium in Boston. You can’t compare a Canadian parking lot to a Boston street parking space. They are two entirely different things. In Boston, parking spaces sell for a whopping… Read more »

Oh poor you!
Do you realy thing that there is no urban area in Canada?
you might think we live in igloo somwhere on an iceberg, don’t you?
Not only snow can be shovel, it melt eventually.
Right now the situation in Boston is bad mainly because you’re not accustomed to it and not prepared to it.
Climate change might turn this aroud.
Your public transport, road circulation is also a mess right now, so why complain about EVSE that doesn’t exist yet.
Yes, **** happen sometime, just not all the time.

If you don’t have to dig your’ SUV out, you know nothing of a real winter.
A Montrealer. 🙂

The charging infrastructure is being built out in a reasonable time-frame and will continue to accelerate.

More range would be a much bigger factor in EV adoption than more charging stations. Nobody wants to stop every 75 miles to charge their EV, even if there were thousands of new stations.

Agreed. Adoption rate will go through the roof when Nissan, GM, and Tesla build 200 mile range vehicles in quantity.

Agreed too.
The egg is definitely the Range !

Yes, and though more charging increases public confidence in owning an EV it is seldom used, and will be used even less as range increases. Mostly you just need 240V charging at home and maybe 120V at work if you have a long commute. Any public charging should be focused on DCQC. Why hang around waiting on L2?

Demand for L2 charging is far higher than DCQC. It makes far more sense to have L2 charging at a low install cost but in many long term parking destinations than a few DCQC trying to replicate a gas station model.

It’s neither. Norway has already shown us that if the sticker price is the same as a gas car, *far* more people choose EVs.

They’ve also shown us that if you want neocons to buy EVs (or really, anything), don’t subsidize them. Just charge a whopping huge tax on everything else, then offer the thing you want them to buy without tax at all. Then Rush Limbaugh would be calling EVs “freedom cars”, while blasting everything else as “communist motors”. They like things that don’t have taxes, you see.

So far Norway has only shown that if EVs are far more cheaper than ICEs they sell at 20% of new car sales. (I mean price at dealer, not TCO)

I also think a comprehensive guide regarding the proper charge station for the proper application. I find governments and private businesses are going at it all wrong in most cases. I think people in the know should create a guide for public business and government. IMHO Tesla is the only entity going at it properly.

200 mile range at $20-$25k price and there would be mass adoption of EV’s.

My daily comute is 75mi round trip and we do the all of our family driving in it on the weekends. I charge 99% of the time in my garage. If it had a 200mi range with a quick charger we could use it for our family vacation trips.

Bingo. I think you’re right.

No matter how much charging infrastructure is built, I’m not buying an 80 mile BEV for $35K. Doesn’t make sense for me.

But, I would definitely consider buying a 200 mile BEV for $35K and no charging infrastructure. (Really want 250 mi range.)

I wonder what research material Tong and Li relied upon to come to this conclusion?

Sounds pretty stupid.

1) Nobody disputes the fact that EV’s usually used for commuting.
2) Nobody disputes the fact that the typical commute is within the round trip range of a BEV.
3) Nobody disputes the fact that the typical commuter EV is charged at home, where separate metering, time-of-use or solar provides lowest charging costs.
4) Common sense tells us the average Joe will not pay $30K for a Leaf that resembles a $20K car. Hence the role the tax incentives plays to bring the price of a Leaf down to its equivalent gas peers.

Unless all these charging stations they claim the government should be subsidizing are free to use, no EV owner will be paying $0.50/kWh and waiting for hours to charge.

We in this forum here know that a reasonably priced, longer ranged EV and freeway accessible charging stations Tesla-style is the solution to the final EV barrier – having the EV be the sole vehicle for its owner.

Within the city, there is usually no reason to want to charge unless it’s free or if you’re driving a lame PiP and don’t want to pump gas.

Sales suck because ICE car makers stopped producing and selling them. period.

Correlation does not equal causation.

The present chargers are going into the wrong places. The most likely places to need chargers are at home and work, which are both out of control of city EVSE install initiatives.

The places that WOULD be within the city initiatives are misplaced.

What the hell are you talking about Scotty?

Here in San Jose, which is part of the #1 hottest selling EV location (San Fransisco bay area), lets line up some shopping malls:

Westfield/oakridge – Chargers? None.
Eastridge – Chargers? 2 x L2s.
Valley fair shopping center – Zippo.
Vallco mall – Nada.
Great mall – 2 x L2s, 2 L3s (way to go evgo)

These are HUGE malls in the center of Silicon valley, and again, in the center of the hottest selling EV area in america.

Cities can impact home charging by mandating pre-wiring through building codes.

BEVs don’t make sense for most people unless they can charge at home. With the longer range cars on the horizon that will nearly eliminate the need for in city charging outside the home. As others have said, Tesla gets it.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

There are three ways to interpret this question.

In evolutionary terms, the egg certainly came first.

For an individual chicken the egg (unfertilized) also clearly came first.

As to which came first, the chicken or the chicken egg, it’s a matter of semantics. At some point you have a an almost-but-not-quite chicken laying an egg that hatches into a real chicken. My interpretation is that egg was not a chicken egg, so the chicken came first. Others may disagree.

I can see the case for using money to build out infra. My only concern is this–today we essentially have a market based solution where folks buy the kind of alternative fuel vehicle they want. Based on whats happening in CA, if we take the funds and pour them into publicly funded build out of infrastructure, I would worry all that money would be used for the build-out of H2 infra that no one wants based on political lobbying.

Once cars have a 150-mile range, L2 charging is superfluous, except in your garage. We need quick charging but no more L2 units. I can’t tell you how many Blink units I drive by and see absolutely no cars, ever. We need more L1 spots at workplaces, where they can trickle charge in an 8 hour day, but that’s about it.

I don’t agree. Those 150 mile cars are going to get 40 miles back at that L1 charger in 8 hours- not enough if the car’s range is representative of the driver’s needs. L2 chargers at work would seem like a better idea.

Without Level 2 chargers here at GM, I would not be able to get a full charge in my Volt over the course of a day. I used the portable charger the other day, and due to the extremely cold temps here in MI I only achieved a 95% charge in 9 hours, and that’s at 12A. That said, most of the time Level 1 would be fine and if it meant that they could have twice as many chargers if they were Level 1, I would support that.

Yes, but if your range was 150mi in electric mode, you wouldn’t need to plug in at work.

Yes, depends on type of vehicle and battery capacity. Most of time 120V can work for a PHEV/EREV with smaller battery.
For longer range, and larger battery capacity, faster charging infrastructure is required.

eg: While a Volt could easily double it’s 40 mile range to make an 80 mile trip using 120V outlet, a 200 mile Bolt will not be able to greatly extend its daily range using 120V outlets. With the number of 150-200 mile vehicles like the Bolt set to greatly increase in 2016//2017, infrastructure planning should already be considering this type of vehicle.

No, we need high amperage L2 (40A to 80A) at places like work, hotels, parks, ski resorts, and so forth. Anywhere you are likely to park a car for 6+ hours. It makes far more sense to have 10x the plugs using 80A J1772 than lower than 100kW DC charging.

What we don’t need is 24-30A L2 charging at places where you spend less than 1 hour like convenience stores or grocery stores.

We do need on-street EVSE’s at 40-80A where people can park for 2 hours or more.

If they are blink chargers they probably don’t work. 🙁 Also blink chargers seem to be located in places nobody would ever want to use them anyway.

Although it is getting a tad repetitive, let us take a moment to applaud Elon Musk and Tesla again. they have decided to handle both chicken and the egg with gusto and they deserve all the help they can get from all fair minded citizens of the world.

I don’t have a problem with L2 chargers at every other shopping mall or store. It can be used to pay for the cost of getting there. L1 can be used to displace workplace and home charging. L3 charging, and better, 100KW chargers and up, are a different animal. They want to be on offramps to major highways, just like the old idea about the ideal gas station location. Tesla got this right. Wow I get tired of having to say that.

I’m not sure I agree with the conclusions of this article. Yes, we do need more charging infrastructure. And yes, that would spur more sales. But to say that removing the $7,500 tax incentive and applying it to infrastructure is the answer – that I can’t agree with. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t affect sales of Tesla. But for vehicles like the Leaf and Volt, it would absolutely kill what sales we have now.

The study only showed that metros with more charging infrastructure had more EVs, but did not analysis which came first. Was it growth in number of EVs creating demand for charging, or charging infrastructure incentivized EV purchases, or some more complex combination of both?

The study only looked at size of charging networks, not the sized and density of the metros and EV fleets. Other studies have shown small to medium metros have much higher density of EVs vs. larger metro cities.

Scott: I like your thinking. However, Level III at malls and such is likely to be the norm a few years down the line. Those w/o access to charging at home, who also have 200+ mile EVs, will need to charge them someplace. Level II, even at 25 miles per hour, might not be enough. That’s where a Level III public charger at a mall or shopping center might work really well. I have seen photos of a Level III QC station outside of an IKEA in England. I wonder if an entrepenuer might someday open up a QC station, with 2-3 hookups, bathrooms, modest seating along with snack options. Picture Elon franchising a SC Center, but available to all who pull in. Tesla owners have a card that gives them free charging, all others pay a fee.

The problem with directed incentives to build something like charging stations is that they distort the price of that something. Maybe a quarter of the money is wasted on profit taking markup that would not have been there. I mean, an L2 charging station is an outlet on an existing power run, plus a cash cow strangely mandated EVSE product with a material cost of $50 and 50 year old tech, basically a redundant safeguard on top of the premises’ and car’s existing equipment. I suppose the market for the cars themselves has also been perverted by the large car subsidy. No doubt. We wouldn’t be moving to 200 mile cars as fast without a singular bent billionaire Tony Stark character, and the subsidy might be slowing us down. The best incentive in favor of reducing fossil carbon is a penalty on fossil carbon. It is a natural law. Bad behavior should be penalized. Dumping poison in the river is not free. Speeding is not free. The proceeds should be revenue neutral, returned to every person equally, so that *I* do not subsidize *your* above average footprint, rather vice-versa. If some folks would rather this money be in the form… Read more »

Unfortunately your method will never work. In the times we live right now it seems half of people still think there is nothing wrong with spewing poison into the atmosphere and that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by liberals. And even those that believe the problem is real don’t want the price of their fuel going up. Unfortunately, it is going to take several more years for EVs to prove themselves as reliable transportation before a lot of people will even consider one. In fact, I’m still convinced that in my area of Texas about 80% of people still do not know EVs even exist despite seeing them driving down the road.

Directed incentives work to enhance what is being incentivized. If the incentive is to “build” that with take priority over usability and long term stability. However if incentives are on creating usage of charging infrastructure, then increasing usage of stations become the priority.
Eg: incentives based on kWh delivered would ensure station would be better located to receive higher usage, and non-charging vehicles at stations reduced.

A “carbon tax” or emission tax in general is just a usage tax. This is not much different than a road toll to use a road.

The study has both some inaccurate facts and good points. INACCURATE FACTS: «All told, U.S. car dealers have sold a little more than 250,000 electric vehicles since they were introduced in 2010.» It was assumed all electric vehicles were sold by U.S. car dealers. In reality about 20% were sold directly to customer by Tesla. «”The goal of this project is to study the diffusion process,” says Tong, “and in particular the necessary charging station infrastructure that supports EV diffusion.”» The charging station infrastructure required for a 150-300 mile range electric vehicle (EV) is different from a 75-100 mile EV. Just as the charging station infrastructure required by BEV (battery electric vehicles) for extended range differs from PHEV (plugin hybrid-electric vehicles) as they use gas for longer ranges. Not analysis was made on the type of electric vehicles) and type of charging station infrastructure. The study goes so far as to propose adding 60,000 charging stations would have resulted in five time the number of EVs sold. Howerver the study fails to define type, configuration, or where the stations will be located. Again, infrastructure needed for a LEAF differs from that needed by a Volt, or Model S. «60,000 charging… Read more »
Who in effect, paid for this study? Living in Western New York, we have little public infrastructure, and had zero when I purchased my EV’s. Its nice to be able to talk about what would happen in an ‘alternative future’, since you don’t have to prove a thing. And politicing for more ‘public infrastructure’ lets Ghosn keep putting the same smallish batteries in his zoe’s and leaf’s, without any capital investment on his company’s part. Why do something that costs you if you can get others to pay for it? Georgia has shown that people will drive more ev’s if they are tax incentivized. As far as public infrastructure goes, NY State is already incentivizing it with a 50% tax credit for docking station installation, but in my neck of the woods there have been few takers. So, it looks like we need the car sales prior to any desire for businesses to provide more infrastructure. The Caddy dealer in smallish Fredonia, NY sells both volts and elrs. They do not have a L2 charger, since they can get by with servicing using the ‘charger bricks’ that come with the cars (and I’d wager that they “BORROW” one from a… Read more »

$1.05 billion in subsidies generated $200 million in environmental benefits. And this is described as a net positive effect? What am I missing?

The only problem is who pays for the electricity at public charging stations funded by government? Business owner, ev driver, tax-payer???

Both incentives are necessary. I would discontinue all subsidies and credits to big oil… and spend no less than that amount to install solar, windmills, hydro, and EVs in as many places as possible.