Publication Detail

Charging for Charging: the Paradox of Free Charging and Its Detrimental Effect on the Use of Electric Vehicles

UCD-ITS-RR-13-59

Research Report

Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

Suggested Citation:
Nicholas, Michael A. and Gil Tal (2013) Charging for Charging: the Paradox of Free Charging and Its Detrimental Effect on the Use of Electric Vehicles. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-13-59

A survey of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners was conducted focusing on workplace charging suggesting that pricing and a mix of high and low power chargers could efficiently meet the needs of workplace charging and increase electric vehicle miles traveled (eVMT). Respondents reported that in California, 38% of drivers who have chargers at work are unable to charge at least once per week due to congestion at chargers. When asked about price, answers indicated that 4 chargers would be needed for every 10 vehicles if free, versus 1 chargers for every 10 PEVs if the price were double (assuming 1 charger serves 2 cars/day). Since a price of double that of home electricity is still likely to save money, the implication is that people are using free workplace infrastructure 4 times more than they need to. This usage pattern suggests that that simply charging a small fee could encourage more efficient use of infrastructure. If charging is given away for free to spur the market, level 1 or low power level 2 (similar in power to level 1) could be used to install the maximum number of chargers on an existing electricity panel. Level 2 at work could be priced higher to discourage those who don’t need it. More dependability for BEVs could encourage their sale and use. In the case of PHEVs, they would only use level 2 when needed or default to a lower power alternative.

 Key words: Electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging, behavior