EV Queues Ahead

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Energy Industry Prepares for Upheaval at the Gas Station,” points toward a big problem ahead regarding electric vehicle (EV) recharging. 

“Electric vehicles are a small but growing share of cars on the road,” Carol Ryan begins her article. “Energy companies already need to prepare for how they will change the gas station.” Why the upheaval?

“A customer refueling a conventional car spends five to six minutes on average near the pumps. Even with fast charging, an EV owner might hang around for 25 minutes.”

Will the affluent EV owner wait four-to-five times longer than the average motorist or truck driver at a service station? And if there is a line at the charger, ten times longer? Or 15 times longer being third in line? Nope.

I remember the gasoline lines of the 1970s (created by federal price controls, another story). Tempers flared, and folks were always trying to game the queue to get the fuel to resume a normal life. I also remember an advertisement in a Houston newspaper in August 1979 for hiring a “gas jockey” to pick up your vehicle, wait in line, and return it filled-up—for a handsome fee.

What will give? Carol Ryan ends her article:

“…. as more drivers in densely populated cities buy EVs despite limited access to on-street or driveway charging facilities, demand for public charging should grow. Shell and BP are betting that this will make their revamped gas-station businesses more lucrative, despite the decline in traditional gasoline consumption. It might pay off, but they will have to work harder than before to attract customers.”

Here is my expectation. “EV jockeys,” high school kids maybe, will do the dirty work. And be sitting on the hood with their cell phones and not roaming the minimart aisles making purchases as perhaps BP and Shell are thinking. Or maybe the enterprising will come to your home or business with the charging equipment. Or ….

A person’s time is a truly depleting asset. Duplicating the transportation grid for EVs spells wastage, trouble, and expense. Maybe the green EV elite can afford to pay someone to wait in the queue, but I think most Americans will smartly fill up five minutes a pop. Color them rationale and normal. 

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