Reality EV: Re-Boot

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Back on November 25th, 2022, I wrote an article titled Reality EV Charging.

To condense, it was about an evening out at the Corning Museum of Glass up in Corning, NY, and the EV charging experience that went along with it. The car driven for that night was a 2020 Kia Niro EV top trim level, capable of a 75kW max charge rate equipped with battery thermal management. Its factory battery is approximately 64 kWh capacity. The article goes on to talk about the paltry charge rates and durations of those rates, resulting in a charge rate session that was way under what the car was capable of. This of course made for a much longer charge stop than needed.

The weather at the time was coolish — 40s and 50s — and the car before the DC fast charge had been sitting on a Level II charger (6kW) for about 2 hours after being driven, then promptly driven to the DC fast for the extra needed. A lot of the comments blamed the non-warm weather for the reduced rate. To keep this short, I looked further into the car’s battery “setup” options and found a setting for the battery conditioning option. As it turns out, the default is set to NO, non-active. So, I activated it back in early March. Up until this past holiday weekend, I had not had an opportunity to DC fast on a higher-level charger.

Now to mess up your mind a bit, I am actually writing this article on April 3rd at about 2PM in the afternoon before the trip. I just was looking at PlugShare for two possible charging locations. One is just off I-84 at Newburg, NY (an Electrify America installation). The other is just off I-88 (different route to destination) at Oneonta, NY (an EA installation also). I am looking at this now for the planned charging aspect of any longish trip. Take a close look at what I am seeing here in the charging comments in the attached images, and note the most recent messages.

Wonderful, isn’t it? All is spectacular in Paradise! This is the crap that EV drivers in the real world have to deal with for what should be an enjoyable experience. And I am not cherry-picking here. These are really the only two DC fast charge points, one on each route (I-84 and I-88) that have enough output to test my hypothesis regarding the 75kW car use. And BELIEVE ME, this was the last thing I wanted to see when I went looking on PlugShare! Now, the reason I am being slightly agitated about this is that recently in all the articles about the wonderful IRA and how it will lay the framework for, blah, blah, blah, there is just a slight tendency to forget about the actual current reality while looking at the pot of gold over the rainbow’, far off on the hhorizon. As an FYI not related to this trip, our local Sheetz is gone for re-construction, killing that EA hub, the only non-Tesla one in our area.

I will check PlugShare again 5 days from now, to see if any of this fiasco has been eliminated. So, I will now pause the 4/3 writing.

OK. Now here we are at the future, after the trip. Drum roll, please, with spoiler alerts. On the I-88 route which we took, two of the four CCS chargers have been repaired. Ironically, this happens to be the same charging stop where two or so years ago I got to charge this same car at 74kW. The weather is now to warm, to prove the cold weather hypothesis. The highest rate I ended up getting on the trip up was 76kW, which lasted about 2 to 3 minutes before falling back to the high 50s, then 23kW once it got to about 75%. On the way back, it never hit above 55kW, not even for a moment. Also, on the way back, we stopped at an EA in Scranton, PA, at a Sheetz gas station to save charging time at home from a low point of 38%, and I wound up getting a complementary charge where it spent maybe 10-15 minutes at 75kW then went down into the 50s and finally 23kW at about 80%. That was the fastest stop between all 3 stops. There were no temperature excuses for being either too hot or too cold over this whole trip.

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The inconsistencies regarding charging are inexcusable. All of this chaos makes charging a negative experience.

Ironically, there was another Kia Nero EV charging there at the Sheetz station. When we went over to talk to the people sitting in their car, and they said it was a rental car. It was the only car the rental place had left, so they had to take it. They were having a tough time because they had no idea about an electric vehicle and the people at the rental place told them nothing about an EV before handing the keys over. They were having a tough time with the whole charging thing. She said she was always nervous because she did not know how to find charge locations and did not want to run out. Again, this is the real world. No spin here.

There may be a pot of IRA gold over the rainbow, but that sure as hell does not help the people out right now that deal with this from day to day.

We have the technological capability to do better, I think. The Tesla network does.

By William H Fitch III, We Are Solar Owner is a multi-decade company in solar and renewable energy consulting and distribution, as well as some direct installations. He is a current ASES member and has various other renewable energy affiliations. He has been “into” solar and renewable energy since the 1970s in the solar thermal area — everything from solar cookers to super-insulated houses to hot air and liquid thermal systems, flat plates, and evacuated tubes. William’s own residence generates around 20 megawatt-hours a year of PV electricity, and it also includes geothermal and solar thermal systems. He and his wife drive all-electric cars and use all-electric yard tools. No gasoline.

Professionally, William spent approximately 40 years in I.T. — from software coding to systems design to full network hardware installations in multiple commercial environments and major corporations.

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