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Electric Car Logistics

Paul Kando

Electric vehicles (EVs) are by far the best option for the environment and they are the future. This is certainly true in Maine, where 74% of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources — 31% hydroelectricity, 22% biomass, and 21% wind — and state rebates of up to $2,000 combine with federal rebates for a saving of up to $9,500 on a new electric or plug-in hybrid car.

Tesla Model 3 in front of the California factory
photo credit: arstechnica.net

EVs and plug-in hybrids are relatively new on the market. Their electric propulsion requires a new infrastructure, substituting the EV charging station for the familiar gasoline filling station. EVs all have ranges—the distance the car with a full battery can cover before the battery must be recharged. Therefore, we must know where these stations are and how long they will take for a recharge.

Most EV owners will charge their car’s batteries at home (e.g., overnight), at work (while on the job), and at public charging stations, while traveling. Home charging accounts for 80% of all charging done by EV drivers in the US.

There are two levels of home charging. Level 1 utilizes the charger included with the car. These slow chargers can be plugged into any standard 120V outlet, with the other end plugged directly into the car. The charging power is about 1 kW, which can typically charge a vehicle for a travel distance of 200 kilometers (124 miles) in about 20 hours; and for 400 km (249 miles) in about 40 hours.

Level 2 chargers are sold separately from the car, although they’re often purchased at the same time. These 6 to 20 kW chargers are plugged into a 240V outlet and can charge 3 to 7 times faster— 200 km (124 miles) in about 5 hours; 400 km (249 miles) in about 11 hours — depending on the EV and the charger. All Level 2 chargers have an SAE J1772 connector and are available for online purchase in both the US and Canada. They are usually installed by an electrician.

A Level 2 home charger enables you to enjoy all the benefits of charging at home. A fully charged battery in a few hours will allow you to maximize the use of your EV and reduce stops to charge at public charging stations.

Connect your Level 2 charger to your EV when you come home from work, and you’ll have a fully charged battery the next morning. Most of the time, an EV’s range is enough for all your daily travel, meaning you won’t have to stop at public charging stations. At home, your EV charges while you eat, play with the kids, watch TV, and sleep.

Another advantage of home charging is the low cost of residential electricity compared to the cost of public charging stations and the cost of gasoline.

Public charging stations offer three standard charging levels. All EVs can be charged with Level 1 and Level 2 chargers similar to the ones at home. Level 3 chargers—also called DCFC or fast charging stations—are much more powerful, and hence, faster. With up to 50 kW of power, they attain 80% of a 200 km (124 miles) charge in about 30 minutes and 80% of 400 km (249 miles) in about 1 hour. However, some EVs cannot be charged at Level 3 speeds and charging stations use several different plugs. Knowing your vehicle’s particulars is therefore important.

To charge the fastest way possible, use a level 3 charger. However, charging at Level 3 is only swift if your battery’s state-of-charge is below 80%. Above that, charging slows down significantly. The last 20% of charging is as fast with a Level 2 station as with a level 3, and it is much cheaper. You could just continue your journey and charge your EV back to 80% at the next level 3 charger. If time is not a constraint, opt for the slower but less expensive Level 2 charge.

So, where are these stations?

For Tesla EV owners, a worldwide list of their charging stations comes with the car. More than 3,000 Level 2 charging stations are available at Marriott hotels, usually free for overnight guests.

Chargehub links to a Canadian web site’s North American charging map. Google Maps will help you locate EV charging stations near your location. A quick search for keywords like “ev charging” will display the supported stations nearest to your location, indicating the businesses where the stations are located, the types and number of ports available, and charging speeds. To use this new feature of Google Maps you may need to update your Google Maps app.

Have a safe drive.