Editor’s Note: This week, Peter reminds the industry that the EV “thing” is burdened by two critical issues, largely generated by the industry players themselves. In On The Table we remember industry giant Lloyd Reuss, and we take another look at the all-new 2023 Honda Civic Type R, some special versions of the Mercedes-Benz EQS EV, as well as a couple of Honda scooters. And our AE Song of the Week is the classic “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison. In Fumes, Peter delivers Part XIV of his popular series “The Great Races” – this week taking us back to Daytona International Speedway for the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours. And finally, we have coverage from the two-day INDYCAR test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which turned out to be just one day because of rain. And the NASCAR crash-fest from Talladega, plus another look at the superb photographic work by AE Special Contributor Whit Bazemore from the MotoGP in Austin, Texas, in The Line. Onward. -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. As the Swirling Maelstrom continues around the EV “thing” and this industry’s adaptation to it, I’m afraid much is being lost in translation. Too much, to be exact.
The latest hand-wringing revolves around the whole charging thing. Let me correct that: It’s not only the latest concern, but it will remain the dominant topic for at least the next decade. To say the EV infrastructure is a work in progress is an understatement for this and frankly any other year in the history of this industry. We – meaning the business, the infrastructure and consumers – simply aren’t there yet. And we’re not even close to meeting the infrastructure requirements for the EVs scheduled to hit the market in the next eighteen months, let alone the torrent of vehicles coming in ’25, ’26 and ’27.
The horror stories about the ramshackle EV charging “network” in this country seem to be growing exponentially by the day. Take your pick: Charging stations in poorly lit and/or unsafe locations. Charging stations that either aren’t working to capacity or aren’t working at all. Charging stations that are not only too far off the beaten path, but once you get there, again, they’re not working.
Yes, people with homes can charge easily enough (well, sort of, depending on the system -WG), but apartment dwellers are forced to endure all of the above just to get enough juice for the week. This seems to be the unending Shit Show facing this business right now, and there are no quick fixes either. It’s obvious that the companies involved in establishing charging networks were big on the potential profits – and lousy on the execution and the concept of maintaining the charge points. Ongoing and consistent maintenance of the existing charge points would be a huge step in the right direction, but judging by the current shape of the charging networks scattered around the country it is not the priority it needs to be and should be. (And no, that certain EV automaker previously headquartered in California and now located in Austin, Texas, is not immune to problems with its homegrown charging network either.)
I should point out the other dimension to this whole charging thing and that is that there’s an attitude “out there” among the EV cognoscenti that suggests that consumers should be prepared to alter their thinking about road trips and get used to the idea of 20-minute – minimum – stops for recharging on the road.
I’m sorry, but WTF? I don’t care what kind of EV charging “oasis” with shopping, entertainment, food, coffee and whatever other accoutrements associated with ideal road tripping is created, let me make this perfectly clear: consumers will not put up with 20-minute charging as a matter of course in their EV travels. The fact that there are prevailing thoughts among EV acolytes in this industry that this should somehow be acceptable and “the cost of EV ownership” is wrong-headed and flat-out dumb.
I’ve said it before, and I will probably say it a thousand more times: Unless and until a consumer can pull off of a freeway and fully charge their EV in the same time it takes to fill up a current ICE vehicle with gasoline, then this whole “EV adoption” thing is going to be excruciatingly slow and play out over the next decade, not next week.
Warning to this industry: It collectively needs to adjust its attitude, not the other way around. It’s clear that there are certain factions within this industry that believe automakers will ultimately dictate EV technology to consumers – the way it’s dispensed, the way it’s packaged and the way it’s applied across the board. And they would be sorely mistaken too.
The history of this industry is littered with companies that made assumptions only to have consumer indifference and/or earned hostility bite them severely in the ass. Any assumptions being made about what consumers will and will not do with regard to the adoption of EVs is a Fool’s Errand of gigantic proportions.
If it were my call, I would immediately halt EV technological development devoted to the “20-minute” charging time right now, and instead shift the focus to consumer-centric usability and speed.
This industry needs an attitude adjustment when it comes to the application of EV technology, and the clock is ticking…
And that’s the High-Voltage truth for this week.
Editor’s Note: You can access previous issues of AE by clicking on “Next 1 Entries” below. – WG