Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why aren't electric vehicles being pushed where they'd benefit most?

According to the World Health Organization, Fresno has the 2nd worst air quality in the country. Bakersfield, our valley neighbor, is first. This is not a surprise to anyone who lives in the valley or reads the local newspapers.

But what is a surprise is how little people seem to care, especially at the local government level. The feds have established a $29 million annual penalty that the valley must pay (guaranteed for 2012 and 2013, will extend as needed) because the air quality doesn't meet standards. The money will stay in the valley to help subsidize purchases of clean school buses, clean lawn mowers etc etc.

The problem with this system is that $29 million a year won't exactly solve the problem. So if ONLY the fine system is used, we're going to be paying the fine for a very long time (and it will go up in the future).

So what about one of those fabled public-private partnerships? A way in which we can help clean up the air, while actually encouraging business sales?

For example, why not take further action to support the electric vehicle here in Fresno?

I've been reading about a whole range of cities like San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, Miami etc etc that have partnered with businesses to install EV charging stations to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles.

Chains like Costco and Walgreens have announced programs to bring EV charging stations to their parking lots.

But not in Fresno.

Apparently, our fine urban area of over a million people has a grand total of two EV charging station. San Francisco had more than that 15 years ago.

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These stations aren't even "real" charging stations. They've been installed by Nissan to charge their Leaf test drive vehicles at the dealership. Are they open to the public? During business hours yes, but the dealers aren't located in places people would actually need to stop and charge, like the mall, or downtown. And most people aren't comfortable pulling up their non-Nissan vehicle to the Nissan dealership to charge.

Meanwhile, San Francisco has dozens. Look at just this small sample downtown.

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Indeed, this map shows us that the bay area has over 100 charging stations. Merced, Visalia and Fresno have a combined total of 6....all of them Nissan dealership installations.

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We need electric vehicles more than the bay area does, so why hasn't their been a bigger push to establish them here?

2 comments:

  1. Wait, so if somebody buys an EV at one of these dealers ... what do they do with it?

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  2. You have a few options at home. All EVs accept the standard 110v charging plug we all know and love. Problem is, this method takes 10+ hours for a full charge. This is called "level 1"

    So most owners purchase a $1,000+ home charging station, which uses 220v power (same as your dryer). This gets the charging down to a more manageable 6+ hours. This is called "level 2". This works well for charging while you sleep at home.

    Now, the thing with EVs is they have a limited range (well, just like a gas vehicle relying on a single tank). So sometimes an EV user will want to "top off" because they think they won't make it home. Natural places for these public stations are locations where the vehicle would park anyway. Supermarket, mall, dentist etc etc.

    As no Ev owner wants to sit around for 6+ hours, public chargers must at least be level 2, and preferably level 3, which can give you an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

    This is what Fresno lacks.

    Likewise, someone driving from LA to SF, probably wont be able to do it, because the valley has nowhere to stop and charge.

    These public chargers are important because they eliminate "range anxiety". If people think they'll be stranded, they won't buy an EV. Knowing that chargers are as common as gas stations ends that fear and promotes purchases.

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