Monday, December 13, 2021

Stuff They Didn't Cover in High School History Class

It's been decades, but for the life of me I can't remember learning about the massive federal program circa 1789 to ensure that every town in the 13 former colonies didn't lack for hitching posts and water troughs.

Or the massive federal program circa 1910 (after the introduction of Ford's Model T) to ensure sufficient gas stations to keep Henry's horseless carriages running.

You know, like this:

The White House and Vice President Kamala Harris rolled out a plan on Monday for building out an electric vehicle charging network.

A fact sheet the White House released on the plan relies heavily on the bipartisan infrastructure law and existing actions it has taken, but there are some new announcements as well. 

Those include the creation of a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation between the Energy and Transportation departments, which will be tasked with implementing the charging network and other electrification provisions in the law.

Personally, I think electric vehicles are pretty cool.

So cool that the last thing I want is government involved in "encouraging" or "investing in" their success.

Having the government decide where these charging stations will be located and what kind of service they'll provide will end up with one-size-fits-all standards -- from battery size/capacity, to the plug types accommodated, etc., that will probably not be as good as, and will delay adoption of, the standards the market would develop without such "assistance."

My guess is that if this was left to the market, de facto standards would emerge over time based on the most popular models. Sort of like how most cars take the same kinds of tires and similar batteries with the same kinds of terminals (round, not square, of a specific size).

Personally, I also think the future is more likely to result in "hot swap stations" than in "charging stations."

With current battery/charging technology, charging takes significant time.

That's probably fine if you're driving/commuting locally and the car sits plugged in overnight (or at work -- some workplaces already have charging stations).

But if you want to hop in your Tesla and drive from New York to LA, you're going to have to fill'er up nine or ten times on the way, and it's not a five-minute (plus the time you spend grabbing coffee and taking a leak) affair.

If you can find a facility with a Tesla "SuperCharger," and if that SuperCharger isn't busy and you can plug right in, it's going to take 40 minutes to get your battery up to 80%, and then it's going to charge more slowly to get it to 100%. So figure an hour per stop, bare minimum.

Absent some technological leap in charging, the only way to get this thing down to typical gas station times is to have some kind of pull-thru facility (probably looking like a car wash or Jiffy Lube) where an attendant or robot replaces your low battery with a fully charged one.

"Battery as a service" is already being done with electric scooters, btw.

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