Why you won’t catch me driving an electric car anytime soon

I think electric cars are gay. There are many and varying reasons for that, but seriously they are just gay. For a start the amount of time spent recharging the stupid things is just ridiculous.

Have a read of this article at The NY Times about a little trip in an electric car.

Setting out on a sunny 30-degree day two weeks ago, my trip started well enough. A Tesla agent brought the car to me in suburban Washington with a full charge, and driving at normal highway speeds I reached the Delaware charging dock with the battery still having roughly half its energy remaining. I went off for lunch at the service plaza, checking occasionally on the car’s progress. After 49 minutes, the display read “charge complete,” and the estimated available driving distance was 242 miles.

Fat city; no attendant and no cost.

As I crossed into New Jersey some 15 miles later, I noticed that the estimated range was falling faster than miles were accumulating. At 68 miles since recharging, the range had dropped by 85 miles, and a little mental math told me that reaching Milford would be a stretch.

I began following Tesla’s range-maximization guidelines, which meant dispensing with such battery-draining amenities as warming the cabin and keeping up with traffic. I turned the climate control to low — the temperature was still in the 30s — and planted myself in the far right lane with the cruise control set at 54 miles per hour (the speed limit is 65). Buicks and 18-wheelers flew past, their drivers staring at the nail-polish-red wondercar with California dealer plates. 

Nearing New York, I made the first of several calls to Tesla officials about my creeping range anxiety. The woman who had delivered the car told me to turn off the cruise control; company executives later told me that advice was wrong. All the while, my feet were freezing and my knuckles were turning white.

After a short break in Manhattan, the range readout said 79 miles; the Milford charging station was 73 miles away. About 20 miles from Milford, less than 10 miles of range remained. I called Tesla again, and Ted Merendino, a product planner, told me that even when the display reached zero there would still be a few miles of cushion.

At that point, the car informed me it was shutting off the heater, and it ordered me, in vivid red letters, to “Recharge Now.”

It gets much worse:

If this is Tesla’s vision of long-distance travel in America’s future, I thought, and the solution to what the company calls the “road trip problem,” it needs some work.

At the Washington Auto Show last month, Dr. Chu, who has since announced his plan to leave office in the next few weeks, discussed the Energy Department’s goal of making electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids as cheap and convenient as comparable gasoline-powered cars.

He continued: “We can’t say this everywhere in America yet, but driving by a gasoline station and smiling is something everyone should experience.”

I drove a state-of-the-art electric vehicle past a lot of gas stations. I wasn’t smiling.

Not smiling at all:

Instead, I spent nearly an hour at the Milford service plaza as the Tesla sucked electrons from the hitching post. When I continued my drive, the display read 185 miles, well beyond the distance I intended to cover before returning to the station the next morning for a recharge and returning to Manhattan.

I drove, slowly, to Stonington, Conn., for dinner and spent the night in Groton, a total distance of 79 miles. When I parked the car, its computer said I had 90 miles of range, twice the 46 miles back to Milford. It was a different story at 8:30 the next morning. The thermometer read 10 degrees and the display showed 25 miles of remaining range — the electrical equivalent of someone having siphoned off more than two-thirds of the fuel that was in the tank when I parked.

I called Tesla in California, and the official I woke up said I needed to “condition” the battery pack to restore the lost energy. That meant sitting in the car for half an hour with the heat on a low setting. (There is now a mobile application for warming the battery remotely; it was not available at the time of my test drive.)

After completing the battery conditioning process, the estimated range reading was 19 miles; no way would I make it back to Milford.

I think you are getting the picture here…electoric cars are gayer than Fossy’s gay ute.


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  • DangerMice

    Apparently he didn’t really know what he was doing though.(or Tesla for that matter)

    • unitedtribes

      Just read this and the reasoning gives me even more reason never to be tempted to buy a EV

    • the reply that you posted is very good – i doubt Tesla forgot to train the guy i think the writer was being a bit tongue in cheek there, i think that the guy that wrote the original review was always going to write a negative review – the Tesla vehicles do have great range for electric vehicles approx 500 km between full charges. the reviewer had planned a trip that pretty much stretched that car to its range limit even on a full charge and didn’t even leave with a full charge or charge it over night when he stopped – if you are going to be a dickhead you are going to have bad results.

  • Andrei

    In the early days of the car at the beginning of the 20th century both steam and electric cars competed with the petrol powered internal combustion engine as a mode of power.

    It was a level playing field

    But the petrol powered internal combustion engine won the day

    There were very good reasons why this happened – no?

    • Mr_Blobby

      With modern technology like flash boilers steam could be a very viable option.

  • cows4me

    These stupid things belong in the city and the country can have 4x4s and V8s.

    • peterwn

      Grandma Duck had an electric car and she lived in the country. Smith & Caughey’s once had an electric delivery van. These early electric cars were all OK until the lead acid batteries wore out after 5 years or so (and still do). And recycling an old lead acid battery while minimising pollution is a challenge – they are now exported to Asia for recycling since the closure of the Exide recycling plant in Petone.

      There was a similar problem with CNG cars (all the rage in the mid 1980’s) – the gas cylinder in the boot had to be periodically tested and many were condemned after 10 years or so – and the replacement cost was high.

  • nudgy

    The car had a half-ton lithium-ion battery! A few African hills would have had to been sluiced away to get that amount of lithium. Real green these electric cars

  • Patrick

    Why would you ever buy a vehicle that requires an hour to refuel/recharge? What happens if you run it out of charge – can someone come along & pour some more elctrical charge into the tanK? Tow companies are going to love these things.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Every night you plug it in and every morning you have a full tank. You would probably spend less time plugging in and out than standing around at a petrol station. Like everything else you would have to manage it.

      • Lopsy

        Stop bullshitting Blobby. Your car is a dog.

      • Patrick

        You missed my point – what happens if you decide to travel from KeriKeri to Wellington? You would spend as long recharging as you would driving. it would take about 5 days to get there. Even the slowest petrol pump only takes a few minutes to refuel a car.

        • Mr_Blobby

          No you missed my point you go to the local rent a dent and hire a car for the occasion like you would a Tux. Seriously how often would the average person travel more than 100km in a day. When was the last time you drove from KeriKeri to Wellington.

          • Patrick

            Ok so that was exaggerating the issue but in my last job I regularly travelled around 150 – 200kms per day. The point is I don’t see how anyone would find it acceptable to wait 45 minutes everytime they needed to recharge. The fast food joints in the fuel stations would love it though.

          • Mr_Blobby

            90% of people travel less than 40km a day. Just out on the news a NZ company has developed a battery that can be charged 100x faster than current batteries, taking hours to minutes, a full charge would take about as much time as it currently does to fill your car. The same company has developed a system of wireless induction charging you would just drive onto a plate in the ground and wait, a bit like a drive through. Or just park it up in the garage at home and walk away, nek minit.As time goes by the range and economy will be extended as the companies compete for market share. As the running costs decrease I see a move back to bigger vehicles.

  • John1234

    Every time I see some smug numpty in their hybrid I am staggered at their ignorance of basic physics. In particular, why can’t they realise that if you removed the batteries and electric motor from a Prius, it can only *improve* its fuel economy? Newtons First Law of Thermodynamics confirms this.

    • Mr_Blobby

      The hybrids are more for the benefit of the oil companies, if you want better economy than offered by hybrids try the small European diesels. The reality is that the battery in the Prius is to small to be of any real use or benefit and worse it is charged up off the petrol engine. To be of any use the battery would have to be significantly bigger and be able to be plugged into the power. Make the electric motor bigger and take out the engine, starter motor and gearbox to offset the cost of the bigger electric motor and the bigger battery. Maybe have a small generator as an optional extra.

      The Prius is a piece of shit and a complete waste of time, hybrids are some sort of appeasement to the oil companies.

      • John1234

        Oh, agreed. Add to this: the genius of the Hybrids is the massive marketing appeal to the smug luddites that drive them. Try to explain it to them that the power only got into those expensive batteries by running the car’s petrol engine less efficiency losses and you just get arm waving and raised voices.

  • Mr_Blobby

    Laugh it up Big Boy. But electric is coming.

    The typical 2 car family will probably have one electric car for around town use and one diesel car for open road travelling.

    How about an electric car for the day to day running, average is about 40km a day and rent a petrol car for the odd occasional trip to Hamilton or beyond for the average family once or twice a year.

    • John1234

      The “typical two car family” has two cars because one or both needs to commute each day. One for open road one for round town won’t work. Cards need the flexibility to do both.
      Chargeable electric cars need to get their power from somewhere. If we move a very large component of the national energy budget from petrol to electricity, how is the generation system going to accommodate that? The Greeniban won’t stand for any hydro development so it will be gas. The Greeniban won’t allow fracking so there won’t be enough gas. What else is there? Coal? Nuclear? Oh, wind? That will be far more expensive that petrol, not to mention the visual pollution. No thanks.

      • Mr_Blobby

        What a very considered reply.

        I don’t believe cars do need the flexibility to do both how often would the average person travel more than say 100km per day.

        Where to get the power from. You might want to do your own research on that one. But a study I saw for New Zealand, it was calculated that because such a high percentage of our power was generated by hydro, that generates 24 hours a day, and in off peak times we used very little power. It was calculated that 60% of New Zealand’s vehicle fleet could be run on off peak power, without the need for any extra generation capacity. It would be even better if we used that power even more smarter, by plugging the storage capacity of a battery powered vehicle fleet into the national grid and in times of high power demand, say in the evening, used the power stored in the vehicle fleet to take the need for peak generation requirements off. This is usually covered by gas, coal and diesel generators. Then top them back up latter in the off peak period. The battery on your car would hold more electricity than your house would use in a day, what is being suggested is that during the peak you use your storage battery and in the off peak top it back up. Something similar to the ripple switch on your hot water cylinder.

        However your power company has just replaced your old analogue power meter with a newer, dumber, digital meter, for a few cents extra they could have put in a smart chip and given people the ability to monitor there power usage.

        With economies of scale and competition Electric cars would be very affordable.

        The Greeniban know all this but will not suggest it, or push for it because they need TAX dollars to fund there own money wasting pet projects

        Now we get to the real issue. It is not only big oil that has a vested interest in suppressing any technology that would eat into there nice little cartel.

        But Governments as well, now this is the real nigger in the wood pile. Our whole system of taxation is based around carbon. For every dollar you spend on petrol with your after TAX income, half of that net is yet more TAX to the Government.

        Now look at the economic cost of going electric. If 60% of the vehicle fleet was run off electricity you would only require 60% of service stations, 60% of garages, the only ongoing maintenance for an electric car is checking the Tyre pressures, no more oil, oil filters, air filters etc. The drop on Government excise and GST TAX would be significant. The loss of Jobs and the resulting unemployment expense and drop in PAYE TAX would also be significant.

        However things do change, jobs change, new industries and technology creates new employment opportunies over time. Just don’t expect it to come from the Government or the Greeniban or big oil, all who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

        • John1234

          That study doesn’t sound right to me. What was the source? Our hydro schemes are generally not “run of river”. Unless the lakes are overflowing, the water is not generally wasted. The hydro chains have sufficient storage to allow the water to be held for short periods in the headponds off-peak and surged through the generators at peak, allowing use of thermals to be minimised. If the constrained water flow was freely used overnight then that would mean less available during the daytime and more thermal generation to fill the gap.

          That’s my recollection but it’s been many years since I was involved in electricity modelling so I stand to be corrected.

          • Mr_Blobby

            The point with Hydro is that rivers run 24 Hours a day so it is possible to generate electricity 24 Hours a day. The report is out there I read it 7 or 8 years ago.

  • tas

    Battery technology is not ready to support electric cars. And, even ignoring the battery issues (and the associated pollution), what are you going to charge the battery with? Coal power?

  • Robert

    These comments simply prove the Chevy Volt is a good concept; using a generator to increase range!! Most trips are done on electric charge since we mostly do short drives to the shops, take kids to school etc. Charging stations need to be provided especially at workplace car parks, shopping centers and city centers.

    • Tesla cars also generate power on downhill and while breaking and this significantly extends range.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Yes. I would still suggest that renting a car for the odd occasion when long distance traveling is required, would be more cost effective.

  • DangerMice