As gas prices reach eye-watering record levels, there’s been a lot of discussion about electric vehicles and their advantages and disadvantages compared to fossil fuel cars. As more people look to quit fossil fuels and go electric, you’ve heard a lot of the classic misconceptions about how you’ll be wasting time charging, running out of battery, and generally having a terrible time driving an EV.
But while Supercharging the other day, I had a realization: There are now so many chargers in my area that owning an EV is more convenient than owning a gas car. You end up spending less time waiting to refuel every week and every year, not more. The general public generally has no clue about this, so let me share my story:
Charge While You Park
What if you had a butler that put gas in your car every night while you slept, delivering it right to your garage so your car was always ready to access? That would save a lot of time and be pretty convenient, right? In the United States, stopping for gas will add about 20 minutes to your trip on average. That includes the time it takes to drive to the gas station, get out, pay for the gas, refill your tank, put everything back in place, return to your car, and get back on your route. This obviously varies depending on where you live, but go ahead and time the whole thing if you don’t believe me.
If you buy gas once a week, you’ll spend 17.3 hours a year refueling, likely longer than your waking hours today. If you buy gas every 5 days, you’ll spend more than 1 of your 365 days of the year just focused on getting more gas. What would you do with one extra day a year?
With an electric vehicle, you can have that day back by charging while you park. Instead of going out of your way to visit a dirty public refueling station and wasting your time swiping your credit card, what if you could just plug in while parked at places you were already going? For example, many people sleep for 8 hours a night while their car is parked in a garage. With any power outlet that can charge your phone, you can charge your car. With enough power, you can wake up to “a full tank” every morning without having to waste 20 minutes. Plugging in your car takes just a few seconds.
Even if you don’t have a home with a garage, you can still charge while you park. I live in an apartment without a garage, but I was able to rent a parking space in a garage with EV chargers. The added security over street parking plus the convenience of charging while I sleep makes it well worth it to me. If you can’t find a charger close to where you sleep (which is ideal), try and look for one near a place that you visit often like your workplace, a grocery store, a local mall or some other place you frequent. If you shop at Whole Foods once a week, that may be all you need. Just charge up your car while you shop without ever having to go out of the way for fuel. As a cherry on top, you often get a premium parking spot right up front while you’re charging, saving you even more time. Just don’t go and take the spot when you don’t need to charge. To find electric vehicle chargers near you, check PlugShare.
Fast Chargers are Becoming Ubiquitous
Anyway, back to my story about how I realized how much things have changed. I was driving around testing FSD Beta and stopped at a gas station in Daly City with a touchless car wash to wipe my windshield and get some bird poop off my car. When I finished up, I had about 7% battery left in my car. Normally it would rarely ever get that low, but I had been parking on the street outside my apartment that week because I was feeling too lazy to do the short walk to the garage. I tapped “home” on my Tesla’s navigation system, and saw that I would arrive home with 1% charge remaining.
Even though Tesla hides 10 – 15 miles below 0, it seemed a little close. Since driving fast uses more power I would have to behave to make it home without stress, which is no fun. I decided it would be better to just charge for a minute to give my battery a little extra cushion for safety (and speed).
I tapped “charging” on my navigation system to find the nearest charging station, and to my surprise, there was a Tesla V3 Supercharger right across the street from me in a mall parking lot. There are so many fast chargers in California now that you’re never too far away from one. I was already there. I cut across the street and plugged my car right into one of the many empty stalls.
You won’t believe how fast these latest chargers are. When your charge is low, these Tesla V3 Superchargers at 250 kW can add 75 – 100 miles in just 5 minutes. Since my apartment was only 15 – 20 miles away, I was ready to get back on the road in a blink of an eye. I didn’t need to fiddle with credit cards or anything, I just plugged in and the car used the card on file to begin charging. Within a minute or two, my battery had gone from 7% to 16%. I just plugged in my car and checked my phone for a minute and when I looked up the charge was at 16%, 17%, then 18%. I realized that this was way more than I needed to make it back to my garage, so I unplugged and hit the road. It was just as quick and easy as filling gas if not easier. A lightbulb went off over my head — the user experience of owning an EV has really turned a corner.
It’s true that the actual process of putting gas in a gas tank takes a few minutes while fast charging an EV fully can take 30 minutes or more, but this comparison misses something important. Since you can’t fill gas in your garage, you need to completely fill the tank before leaving the gas station. By contrast, if you’re running around town and need a little extra juice to make it home you only need to add enough charge to make it to the next place you can charge while parked. In my case, I only needed a few minutes of charge to make it home. Actually, I probably could have made it home without the charge but I wanted to add a little buffer. Once you realize you don’t always need a full charge, the experience gets even closer to a gas station fill-up.
Why does this matter?
Reflecting on this story, the first interesting thing I noticed is that because charging stations have become so ubiquitous, I’m able to drive around as much as I want without ever worrying about charging. The situation I described is very rare — you will be running around town and need to charge less than once a year, if that. I could have avoided charging on the road by plugging in the night before but I decided to leave my car on the street because I was feeling lazy and knew that it wouldn’t be an issue even if I had to go drive farther than I had charge for. In areas with a lot of EVs, “range anxiety” is becoming ancient history. Normally you don’t waste any time refueling because you charge while you’re parked, and in the rare instance where you don’t plan ahead and need to charge it’s as convenient as a gas fill-up if not better.
The other reason this experience got me thinking is how much it felt like making a quick gas stop. It was even faster than a gas stop, really. The fact that there was a Supercharger right across the street when I needed one without me planning it was something that you could only experience with gas stations previously. Now more and more often we are experiencing it with EV chargers. “Oh, great there’s a charger!” Plugging in for just a few minutes and then hitting the road without wasting time on payments felt quicker, easier, and cleaner than a gas car. The supposed “advantage” enjoyed by fossil fuels is eroding fast around the world.
Gas car drivers waste a day a year refueling, but EV owners can charge while they park and get 99%+ of that time back. When they do need to charge unexpectedly, there are now more stations than ever that can charge your car faster than ever. On road trips, your car will automatically plan charging stops for you at nice locations like malls and shopping plazas where you can get food or other things you need. Contrary to popular belief, road trips are even more pleasant in an EV with stops to stretch, eat, and use the bathroom automatically planned by the navigation system. And don’t get me started on the added convenience of Autopilot on road trips…
Heading into the future, this trend is likely to accelerate. As EVs gain popularity you’ll see more and more EV chargers as the business case becomes more compelling with more paying customers. You’ll also see more free EV chargers in places like malls, hotels, and restaurants designed to bring in affluent customers. Pretty much every place you can park will have an EV charger in the future.
Meanwhile as fewer and fewer customers buy fossil fuels, gas stations will go out of business. That means customers will have to drive further and further to get gas, waste more time, burn more fuel getting there… and that will make people want to drive fossil fuel cars even less than they already do.
Charging an EV is getting better and better, while refueling your car is getting worse and worse — just ask people at your local gas station. This is a major tectonic shift that will replace the foundational infrastructure of the global economy.
Don’t wait for things to get even more painful for fossil fuel car drivers. Order your EV online today.