Electric Car Major Headache

A trip from LA to Las Vegas and back takes 8 hours by a gas-powered car but 13 hours by an electric vehicle.

The electric vehicle grand vision may flounder on something most drivers take for granted: a quick pit stop.

The inconvenient truth of electric vehicles is they are terribly inconvenient to own and operate. Most cars need a charge after 200 to 250 miles traveled.

Charging them requires finding a charging station, and then an open bay.

The New York Times reports L.A. to Vegas and Back by Electric Car: 8 Hours Driving; 5 More Plugged In.

The NYT author, Ivan Penn, drove a Chevrolet Bolt from LA to Las Vegas, a 540-mile round trip that many people make regularly.

Penn reports that in addition to eight hours on the road, he spent close to five and a half hours charging the car. That's about 41% charging time.

It could have been much worse. "We always found a charger available, though more than once we got the last one, and drivers arriving after us had to wait," said Penn.

Thus, what was 5.5 hours could easily have been 8 hours. All it would have taken was one nasty wait. Tesla (TSLA) owners have been known to wait an hour or more for a charger to open up. And Tesla owners can use either Tesla stations or public stations. The reverse is not true.

The United States has about 24,000 public charging stations, with an average of fewer than three charging posts. By comparison, there are about 150,000 gas stations, some with dozens of pumps.

Will the number of charging stations increase as fast as electric vehicles?

I don't know but the alleged saving over gasoline is not as good as reported.

Charging costs an average cost $10 for about 200 miles, depending on the car, That's about about half the typical cost of gasoline for that distance, according to AAA.

"Our experience was not as economical: We spent about $67 on electricity, perhaps $10 less than we might have on gas," says Penn. Of course, no one can predict with any reasonable degree of accuracy, future electric costs or future gasoline prices.

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