Electronic vehicles: more range, less cost

After a pretty big week for telematics at CES, Gigaom has a post about a new survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value of 1,716 drivers and 123 automotive executives about the US consumer market for electronic vehicles, EV from now on.

Several points are not very surprising:

  • drivers do not want to pay more for an EV over a regular or hybrid car
  • auto execs are more focused on government incentives
  • drivers say they care about the environment
  • auto execs don’t believe them

Then you get to charging and that’s where it gets interesting. I think charging EVs could present the biggest growth driver for pretty much everything in America for the next ten years and beyond.

But first let’s look at the current sentiment.  When drivers were asked if they would pay for a home charger, a third said no, another third said only up to $500. The last third was split between people that would pay up to $1,000 (75%) and those who would pay up to $2,000 (25%.)

Most EVES consumer charging stations cost between $1,000 – $2,000 with installation.  It should be no surprise then that Ford did a deal with Best Buy last week.  When I first saw the news I though Best Buy was going to install chargers in their store parking lots.  Then I saw something about the Geek Squad, which was scary in and of itself.  But then I actually got to read the full article and Ford teamed with Best Buy to install charging devices in consumer’s garages.The Ford Focus EV, no matter what the actual price is still in the low end line of cars for Ford.  Ford can’t count on a bunch of tree hugging rich folks to be the first buyers. They have to know that home chargers are going to be critical especially early on, to the functionality of their product;  no charger, no car. There is no way an infrastructure of public chargers is going to be in place when Focus EVs go on sale later this year so if they can’t close the gap on home charger installation, its going to be a problem.

I would imagine that Ford also heard the message from GM’s Britta Gross about the EV-1 test. “We held everyone’s hand. We ended up footing a lot of the bill,” she said. “That can’t be sustained if you want to get to 10,000 or 100,000 vehicles.”

ESEV chargers come in several flavors, consumer products are Level 1 (1.44kw, 110v) and Level 2 (6.6kw, 240v.)  For a typical car a level 1 charger takes 8 hours to recharge a battery, a level 2 charger takes 4 hours. Level 3 chargers are commercial units that are 3 phase and can charge an EV in around 30 minutes.Concept art from AkerWade

Wired ran a story last Fall about NRG Energy’s plan to install a network of EV chargers, both level 2 and 3, in Houston TX.  Wired states, “One of the biggest challenges to the mass adoption of electric vehicles is their relatively limited range and the question of where we’ll charge them when we aren’t home.” The project is called eVgo and for a flat fee of either $49 or $89 dollars a month gets EV owners unlimited charging.The US is dependent on automobiles for just about every aspect of our social and economic existence. As more EVs hit the market a whole new infrastructure will be required to keep things moving.  EV charging touches everything from smart grids to home power monitoring and is going to be the driver for innovation across the full spectrum of the American economy.

Additional reading: GigaomPro, subscription required

Car Data As the Next Platform for Innovation – According to the Climate Group, information technology can help the world reduce carbon emissions by 15 percent below business-as-usual levels by 2020. Embedding IT in vehicles and transportation will be a key aspect of hitting that goal.

Why Microsoft’s Electric Vehicle Deal With Ford Matters – Starting with the Ford Focus next year, drivers will be able to use Hohm to schedule and control the car’s battery charge based on factors like fluctuating energy pricing and a consumer’s convenience. We take a look at what impact this deal will have on Microsoft, Ford, and dozens of other competitors in the electric vehicle-charging ecosystem, from home energy software tools to utility back-end systems.

IT Opportunities in Electric Vehicle Management – During the next few years, plug-in hybrid and all electric vehicles will be mass-produced for the first time. The promise of reducing emissions, fuel consumption, and the cost of driving will prompt fleet operators and consumers to purchase more than 800,000 of these vehicles between 2010 and 2015, according to Pike Research’s forecasts. Keeping EVs charged and ready to go will require an infrastructure of equipment for vehicle charging and new IT management system for monitoring, analyzing, and controlling vehicle charging.

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.


  1. Electric vehicles and charging networks | thinkd2c - January 17, 2011

    […] need to charge to run and home charging is only part of the solution.  Charging networks like Blick represent a sea change in the American […]

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