Greg Hassler

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Corner Cases Matter (EV range use cases)

I originally wrote this content for the Atlis Motor Vehicles' website blog on June 24, 2019. The blog is no longer published.
Atlis Motor Vehicles is now NXU Energy.

In electric vehicle circles, we often hear phrases like "it's good enough for 90% of people" or "90% of the time you don't need to charge faster than that / go farther than that" These arguments are well-intentioned, trying to sway people that electrification technology works the majority of the time - and it does. For most people's daily commute to and from work, school runs, grocery shopping, going to the gym, and other routine tasks most electric vehicles and charging stations made in the past 5 years are satisfactory. But fulfilling the needs for that other small percentage of time is the hard part.

People don't want to buy a vehicle that only works for 90% of their needs - they want a vehicle that can do everything they need. The once-a-year trip to Aunt Pattie's. Towing the boat out to the lake. The winter business trip where you leave your car at the airport for a week in 20°F weather and have to get home again. The excuses phrased above don't acknowledge these situations, and the train of thought will actually stall electric vehicle adoption - it makes people think that you have to make sacrifices to put up with an electric vehicle. There are numerous scenarios where even the best of today's electric vehicles are greatly inferior to what's possible with a fossil fueled vehicle. Nobody wants to be inconvenienced 10% of the time.

There are ordinary fossil fuel vehicles which can travel 500 or 600 miles on a single tank, while no production electric vehicle to date has crested 400 miles. Electric vehicle enthusiasts immediately go back into excuse mode, with rants about needing to stop and take breaks anyway. But not all extended travel is done on interstates, in urban areas, or even done in one shot. Not everyone starts from fully charged at home. These are the 10% use cases.

The range loss of electric vehicles in extremely cold weather or when towing is more significant than their combustion counterparts. Refueling - completely - takes about 5 minutes. While charging time is slowly getting better, even using the highest power chargers available, it still takes over an hour to restore full range to a depleted battery. That charging time clogs up popular charging spots and is a burden for people who can't charge at home and rely on fast charging networks for their weekly juice. More excuses abound - “you don't need to charge to 100%“ - well, some people do.

Within the truck market, the problem is exacerbated. Trucks are tools and are used in heavy duty scenarios far more often and to a far greater extent. Hauling loads, towing, and long-range distance travel is a more regular occurrence. Or taking the family into the wilderness for a weekend of camping and kayaking, or 12-hour-long nights of snow plowing in sub-freezing temperatures. At Atlis Motor Vehicles, we recognize this - pickup truck owners aren't willing to give up capability. They don't want to tow shorter distances or stop longer to recharge. They have work to do.

Electric vehicles are currently a round peg in a square hole. Pushing the technology into those corners, that last 10%, is when the products you build really matter. When what you build has value, convenience, and purpose that can make people's lives better. That's what we're here to do at Atlis. This is what we mean by no compromises.

- Greg Hassler

Originally written for Atlis Motor Vehicles