How much range does your car need? A gas car has a range of X and an electric car has a range of Y. But these are not apples to apples comparisons. They mean different things. Here is why…
Gas cars have a range of 300 – 500 miles on a tank. When you run low you go into a gas station and fill up. It takes 10 to 15 minutes.
If you drive 12000 miles a year then you will do this 24 – 40 times per year. Nobody tops up their gas car at home.
You’ve spent 240 to 600 minutes in gas stations with your gas car.
If you drive an electric car, you plug it in at home every day. If you drive 12000 miles a year, you average 33 miles per day. If your car has an electric range of 150 miles and you never exceed 150 in a day, you never charge anywhere other than at home.
Time spent waiting to charge: 0 minutes. Electric car is a huge win.
If you exceed 150 miles 20 times per year ( 20 days of 300 miles or 10 days of 450 miles ), you will need to stop to charge those 20 times. ( Thats 3000 or 4500 miles in just 10 or 20 days and your daily average drops to 26 or 22 miles on the other days )
If it takes you 2 hours to charge each time then you spend 2400 minutes. Currently available charging technology at standard domestic supply power levels takes about this much time at a 240V 70A charging station in a parking lot ( when they exist, few have been installed yet )
If you use that time to eat or shop or do something else you wanted to do, its not wasted time. If you can spend that time doing something you wanted/needed to do anyway 75% of the time then we’re at 600 minutes of “wasted” time – the same ballpark as a gas car. That all depends on where charging is available – is it where you want to spend time.
Proposed charging technology will use higher current and higher voltage to reduce this time to the 30 – 45 minute ballpark. Now you’re looking at 600-900 minutes per year. And you still have the advantage that its just an outlet at a parking stall, we can put them places where we want to spend a half hour. If you can spend the time productively 75% of the time, now we are at 150-225 minutes of “wasted” time per year.
The electric car with 150 mile range becomes a time saver over a gas car with 400 mile range. Your electric car needs a long enough range to cover about 93% of your driving days to be a big time saver over the course of a year.
If you are hellbent to drive 600 miles in a day with a bottle to pee in and only want to eat drive-through, the electric car technology that is available right now will slow you down. If you want to stop for 3 meals for about a half hour each time, it may not slow you down at all. In this one extreme case that many people will do no more than once every couple of years – you have to try to schedule your stops with charging to make the electric car as convenient as a gas car. The rest of the time it should be possible to make it more convenient. If you want to do this a lot, then you may not find the electric car convenient enough.
However if you drive that much you may drive many more miles than the average, and then the cost savings of electricity versus gas will really add up.