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Thanks to JW, Leo and Nick, to take a liking to Potty break. JW and Steve , whats that silly looking bar in t he Mitchells tail cone ? something from Golds Gym ? Now for you electric car guys - what happens when the masses get them and we all charge them on todays power grid ? . T hey just put 3 (three) charging stations in at Allentowns largest shopping mall. Wonder what happens when number 4 drives up .
Harry, you ask some great questions about the EV revolution. As with any transformative technology, it's not enough to just have a great product that people want: in this case the charging infrastructure is absolutely critical to widespread adoption of EVs by the great majority of people who could care less how they get from point A to B as long as it's cheap and reliable and convenient. It's different with early adopters, of course: these are people who can see that the handwriting is on the wall regarding the end of the internal combustion era and want to help push the larger economy toward a sustainable future and away from a dependence on fossil fuels.
It's not easy to see how a few thousand Teslas (next year they'll make 20,000 Model S cars, if things go well) make much difference in the larger scheme of the global automobile industry, but you gotta start somewhere. Tesla's noteworthy accomplishment is to create the first great car that happens to be all electric. They've done it with a lot of good, old-fashioned American innovation (and, not incidentally, with the help of a sizable DOE loan and a lot of luck), led by a visionary South African emigre who's already made and spent at least two high-tech fortunes to put his newer ventures, Tesla, Space X and Solar City, in a position to transform three important industries.
Now, charging stations. The average daily drive in this country is 40 miles: the Model S can go between 250 and 300 miles on a charge, the other all-electric cars currently available have significantly less range, but enough for this purpose. For normal daily driving, then, the current generation of EVs can charge at home, overnight, and never need a charging station except on cross-country trips. Public charging stations are cropping up everywhere these days: Walgreens and Nissan dealerships are all installing 30amp J1772 charging stations usable by almost all the EVs out there currently, and entrepreneurial charging networks are also coming on line, as we speak, where you can reserve a charging point for an hourly fee. Hotels, shopping centers and restaurants are installing charging points in order to attract new business. Tesla's Supercharger network is unique in that it takes advantage of proprietary technology to bypass the car's onboard charging inverters to feed DC current straight to the battery pack at up to 100kW, enough to add 150 miles of range in 30 minutes. The Supercharger stations are also being positioned _outside_ population centers, at highway intersections and rest stops where space is cheap and people will need intermediate charges between their overnight stops at hotels or private homes that have charging capabilities suitable for an overnight charge. It'll be a bit of a transition as the multiple charging standards are sorted out and the industry figures out how to support a growing fleet of EVs.
How is the electrical generating grid going to handle it if we start charging millions of vehicles a day? That day is still some years off, but one answer is renewable sources, like solar PV: I have a 4.76kW, grid-connected system on the roof of my home, plenty to charge my car with some left over to help power the house. During the day, when electrical loads tend to be highest, I'm out driving my car and my solar system feeds electricity to the grid; at night, when loads are lower, I charge my car. I'll be expanding the solar system by 50% as soon as I can get an installer out here: they're extremely busy these days.
There's a lot more to say on the subject. Battery technology needs to advance rapidly to allow for lighter batteries that hold more juice: the holy grail of EV design is currently the 500 mile battery pack at half the cost, size and weight of today's 300 mile packs. Power generation capabilities must begin transitioning from fossil fuels to decentralized, renewable sources. But Tesla has truly put EVs on the map, and they've done it with an advertising budget of exactly zero. You're going to hear a lot more from them in the next year or two: the next Tesla to reach the market will be a 4WD crossover SUV, and the one after that will be a low-cost family sedan.