BMW board member Herbert Diess says that typical EV owners don’t use public chargers, and can get along just fine without the charging infrastructure. Most of the charging is done at home, and while public chargers are nice, in most cases they simply aren’t needed.
“We think long-term there will be many EVs around, mainly when it comes to commuting shorter distances in metropolitan areas,” said Diess during the North American International Auto Show. He should know, as he claims to have driven around one of the new BMW i3 electric cars for about a year, and “not once” did Diess need a public charger.
Previous studies have found that close to 95% of car trips can be accomplished on a single charge, even with today’s short-range electric cars. The average person can make it to work and run a few errands without needing to stop for a charge until returning home for the evening.
However, that leaves those other 5% of trips when an electric vehicle might need a quick charge to get to the next point. I’m thinking of those days when traffic is really bad or when you want to take your sweetie to that romantic winery outside of town, but it could also be road trips to see Grandma for Christmas, or maybe the beach for spring break. For those kind of trips, an electric vehicle might need to top off on electrons if it wants to make it home.
BMW does sell a range gas-powered extender as an option in its i3, for about $3850. Without a range extender, the i3 makes it about 80-95 miles on a charge, but with the range extender the i3 travels close to 200 miles. Most i3 buyers don’t get the range extender, according to Diess, though the option may make it a lot more attractive to buyers on the fence, but can’t afford the $135,000 plug-in hybrid BMW i8.
Many other EVs will need public chargers, however. They’re smaller and their range is not as far, at least from now, so what it really comes down to who provides the chargers.