The Tesla Roadster has a ~240 mile city range, ~200 mile highway.
That long range is “necessary” because there is very little convenient charging available. I can spend the day driving around to multiple destinations and return home just as long as I dont exceed that distance. Thats about 7 hours on the road of city driving, or 3 of highway.
A really bad day that I can stretch and imagine is 15 miles to work, 20 mile roundtrip to a morning appointment ( 10 x 2 ), 20 mile roundtrip to lunch ( 10 x 2 ), 50 miles roundtrip ( 25 x 2 ) to a distant appointment across town, 10 miles to a store out of my way to pick something up on my way home, 10 miles to home. About 125 miles. Also note that this means I spent about 3 hours driving around rather than working.
( Or alternatively 10 miles to kids school, 15 miles to workplace, 20 mile roundtrip to the store, 15 miles to to kids school, 10 miles to soccer practice, 10 miles to band practice, 10 miles to home. About 90 miles )
If I knew that was the worst case day and every spot I stopped before and after driving that max distance had charging available I could get by with a car with a 25 mile range. Almost every place you stop has electricity just a short walk from where you park, but there is no outlet at your parking spot.
The 240 mile city/200 mile highway range car has a 53kWhr battery in it. 7.3 kWhr provides the energy to go those 25 highway miles, but the battery is 30% of the cars weight, and if you reduce the weight of the car by 26%, you can further reduce that battery by about 16% so now its a 6 kWhr battery.
A standard 240V 30A dryer/air conditioner/commercial freezer outlet could easily charge a 6 kWhr battery to full in a little over an hour.
A standard 240V 50A range outlet/RV outlet can charge a 6 kWhr battery to full in about 40 minutes.
A regular 120V 15A home outlet can charge the battery in 4-5 hours ( while at work or overnight at home )
I’m not talking about fancy charging stations, I’m talking about already existing power plugs like you get at Home Depot for a few dollars.
A 53 kWhr battery of LiFePo4 would cost $22000. A 6 kWhr battery would cost $2500.
( I am pretty confident that these costs will come down dramatically as technology improves, but you can buy these right now )
A minimalist electric car could be built easily for $12500 mass produced by the millions ( minus the battery )
Hobbyists can build their own EVs for less right now by starting with a lightweight used car and installing this motor with this controller.
Plugs are cheaper than cars.
If you built 100 million of these cars for $15000 thats 1500 billion dollars.
Installing 300 million plugs would probably cost less than a 300 billion dollars. ( Yes this is a guess )
Building 100 million cars with the big battery would be 3450 billion dollars.
Thus the total cost of the short range cars and plugs is 1650 billion dollars less than the long range cars.
Lets assume that you plug in at home every night, into an existing regular house plug.
If you average 50 miles of driving per day, you’ll need to be plugged in about an hour away from your home during an 8 hour workday. ( 1 plug hour ) Of course you will plug in at every opportunity to be ready for an impromptu drive. If you drive to work and then dont touch your car, you will use 1 and waste 7 plug hours.
Adding 3x plugs per car provides 24 plug hours per car during the 9 to 5 core hours, and each car will use somewhere between 1 and 8 plug hours per day, leaving 16 plug hours available.
The question is, how many places are there that you may want to stop and charge?
With 3 plugs per car, you cover every workplace, plus 2 addition locations per car.
Add 1 shopping/dining location per car and 1 non-business location ( park/school/library)
Of course you dont get the coverage at all the possible destinations unless you build hundreds of millions of plugs in anticipation of the cars.
Nobody in the U.S. is going to be satisfied with a 25 mile range electric car, even if they knew that they were only going to drive 25 miles 99.9% of the time and had a 2nd car for the other times. However the populations of China and India do not have our expectations and prejudices because most dont currently own their own car. If they built the infrastructure, a lot people would be pretty happy with that car.
In the U.S. the land of 2 cars per household, it would still make sense to have 1 long range and 1 short range car.
What’s the longest distance you can imagine driving between stops during your daily routine? What short range car would make sense in the U.S.?
Of course, its all academic because the U.S. will never again have the political will to publicly fund such a huge infrastructure investment of hundreds of millions of plugs – like we did with the Interstate System that subsidized cars and their ability to drive long distances in the first place.