Look out Chevy Volt: Nissan LEAF gets range anxiety relief

Look out Chevy Volt: Nissan LEAF gets range anxiety reliefAs automakers develop more innovative electric cars – such as the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV – two issues still need to be resolved before EV’s can challenge hybrids such as the Chevy Volt. These issues are range anxiety and the speed of recharge. NRG, a power generating company based in New Jersey, is piloting the eVgo network in Houston to both solve these problems and expand its energy market.

The advantage electric cars have over other transportation alternatives such as hydrogen or natural gas is that the infrastructure to deliver electric charge already exists. Ideally, an EV would charge overnight in the garage, so it would be ready to go for the daily commute. But what if the commute exceeds the range of the car? And if drivers can stop somewhere to recharge, will it take hours?

To solve these problems, NRG is proposing the eVgo network . For a monthly fee, the eVgo network will provide both home charging service and access to public charging stations. The home charger will operate on 220 volts (the same as an electric oven or hot water heater) and deliver 3.3 kilowatts of power, which will charge the LEAF in around 6 hours. The public charging station, however, will be designed to deliver 50 kilowatts of power, resulting in greatly reduced charge times.

NRG is proposing to install about 50 charging stations throughout the Houston area by next year. The subscription would range from $50 to $80 per month for a three-year contract, and the fee would be added to the monthly electric bill.

Although this proposal should help alleviate range anxiety, EV drivers will need to crunch the numbers to see if it would be cost effective. Additionally, only subscribers can use the public charging stations. NRG is exploring the possibility of providing sales directly at the “pump,” but has no plans to offer it for at least another year.

As a power generating company, NRG is developing this service to increase its market, particularly during the off-peak hours. But why are they piloting the system in Houston? Because NRG wants to build two new nuclear power plants in Texas. The green benefits of the Houston eVgo network may merely be shifted to other problems outside the Loop.

Comments

It is great to see NRG take this step. Kudos to David Crane (CEO) for helping Houston to lead into the next energy era. (Houston is already home to the most public charging stations of any city in the country and the City government has a fleet of Plug-In Hybrids plus and additional 100 Leafs on order.)

Unfortunately, the NRG pricing plans are misguided and will really discourage adoption. The plans include a "free" home charging stations ($49/month) and then another charge (~$30/month) for using the public charging stations.  At $89/mo (with a 36 month contract) you get unlimited use of the charging stations, included electricity for your home charger, and a leased charging station in your garage. But... you have to sign up with Reliant for your electricity provider (that's an extra $20+/month because they are more expensive), you would need to drive a bunch of miles (like 80 miles a day or 30k/year to get decent payback on this thing versus just putting in your own electric charger with the 50% tax credt available). 

You can just imagine some consultant at NRG headquarters cooking up this great idea to have electricity sold like cell phones (yuch!). They will need to come up with some better rate plans or a pay as you go approach for people who have put in their own charging stations and for people who are occasional users of the charging infrastructure (like volt drivers, low mileage leaf drivers, etc.) or this thing will be a dud. But changing pricing models is easy. So hopefully they will make some adjustments and we can all applaud the company for taking the first serious step to build a privately funded charging infrastructure.

These guys are so out of touch it's laughable.  Last month I placed my reservation for a Tesla Sedan.  I won't see it for nearly 2 years, but that will allow plenty of time for the public charging infrastructure to get a head start.  With a 240 or 300 mile range on the sedan, I fully expect that 98% of the time I will only be charging the car in my garage.  Topping off my battery pack each night, (try that with a gas powered car).  On those rare occasions when I'm driving out of town, and won't be back for the evening, I'll charge elsewhere, hopefully for free (some of the time).  If you think about other places WHERE cars spend the night, these places come to mind: airports, hotels, a relative's home, etc.  These are all places where I can expect to plug in if necessary today (paid or free).  For the long road trips we have 2 or 3 times a year, we'll use our other car, or rent a car if necessary.  Range anxiety is a concept that was probably created by "big oil".

The utilities are taking off peak charging fairly seriously.  You can see how much cost savings they are offering customers with electric cars in this below analysis.

http://www.mychevroletvolt.com/chevy-volt-electric-car-off-peak-charging-cost-analysis

HI there,

This may sound crazy but I don't think Range anxiety really exists for most people. I think it's a marketing buzz word designed to shoot down pure EV's. People that drive EV's realize how far they can go and think about that before they get involved with an EV.

I think that anyone who is thinking about driveing an EV should take a "range anxiety challange" before they consider it. As far as I'm concerned normal gas powered cars get too much range for most of the driving trips that people make. Conservatively, most of the time we are hauling around 4-5 times more fuel then we need to make our trip. We could easily simulate the range of an EV in our current GAS cars and see how much of an inconvience an EV would be with it's range limit.

So I would challange anyone who has doubts about EV's to change your fill up habits in you gas car for a couple of months.

Only put 100 miles worth of fuel into your car each time you fill up, reset the trip odometer and see how you do. This will put you in touch with your distance traveled and make you more aware of what driving a limited range car would be like.

You might find that driving with the tank on 1/4 or less all the time does make you uncomfortable, but you might also find that you can easily do everything you want on that 100 mile range.

Here are some signs that you would not adapt well to an EV:

- You need to add 100 miles worth of fuel more then once a day
- You run low on gas in the middle of nowhere and have a hard time finding gas
- You find that running on a low tank of gas does bother you and you worry you will get stuck.

Here are the signs that you might adapt well to an EV.

- You add 100 miles worth of fuel only every few days.
- You drive in areas where it's easy to find fuel and don't worry about running out.

I think most people could figure out if an EV is for them without doing any of this but simulating an EV's range with your current car for a few months is a worthwhile exercise for everyone. Even for people that are sure they want an EV.

Give it a shot and you be the judge it may change you mind about EV's

nice to read.

well information related article .

thanks for the post.