As 2023 draws to a close, it’s easy to look at the headlines and charts and feel a bit uneasy about the electric vehicle future. But the truth is that more people bought, rented, tested and drove EVs this year than ever before this year, and while it didn’t bring the permanent up-and-to-the-right adoption curve many car companies. wanted, it did prove that EVs are mainstream now and not just some niche.
That’s a lot more collective EV knowledge than drivers everywhere had at the close of 2022. So now seems like a good time to pool some of those learnings. What was your biggest EV-related lesson of 2023?
(Welcome back to Live Wire, a new feature where we draw on the knowledge and opinions of the InsideEVs reader community. Keep it smart and keep it civil in the comments.)
Maybe you got your first EV in 2023 and have a lot of tips for your fellow newcomers. Maybe you got your sixth and were able to enjoy a much better public charging experience than you did in the last decade (even if it’s not where it needs to be yet.) Maybe you rented and tested a bunch of different cars, as we at InsideEVs do every week, or just soaked up a ton of research about how to thrive in an electric future.
But I think now would be a great time to share those lessons with other folks, especially those who are really new to this world and need some expert guidance. Or at least, guidance from people who are living this life.
Here’s what I would tell you if you asked me:
PlugShare is still your best friend. It’s awesome that so many automakers are getting better and better at route-planning, where their navigation systems will tell you where and for how long you need to charge on a road trip. But I’ve had cars cheerfully send me to a very broken Electrify America station more than once. Even as EVs get out of the early adopter phase, crowdsourced charging data app PlugShare remains an invaluable resource for everyone.
Tesla drivers still just have it better than everyone else. Whenever I talk about the usual headaches many EV drivers encounter—busted public chargers, inconsistent speeds, range anxiety and so on—I’m increasingly met with baffled stares from Tesla drivers. Especially those on their first-ever Model Y or Model 3. Those EV newcomers get to benefit from a very robust, built-out ecosystem and simply do not have the same challenges that many other drivers do. It’s why you really can’t fault anyone for going that route.
The playing field may level off eventually. The American auto industry switching to Tesla’s NACS plug as that Supercharger network opens up to other vehicles will likely be a massive game-changer. But it’s going to be a minute before we all see the full benefits of that. Until then, Supercharger envy is likely to plague the rest of us for a bit longer.
It’s probably time for automakers to quit offering “free charging” as a perk. On a recent Texas road trip in a Ford F-150 Lightning, I probably spent about four collective hours just waiting around for various public charging stalls to open up. That’s because the “free charging” deals thrown in with many new EVs (typically with EVGo or Electrify America) can incentivize people to use those chargers as gas stations when they should be charging at home. And since a lot of those drivers insist on charging to 100%, they’re not doing right for their long-term battery health, either. I’m with Tom Moloughney on this one: free EV charging sucks. I’d rather see all the automakers offer free home charger installation instead.
This experience is getting better all the time. The first time I tested a Chevrolet Bolt back in 2018, I spent almost a day looking for a place to charge it in New York City. That isn’t the case anymore; there are a half-dozen places to do that within walking distance of my apartment. Sure, charging and the overall EV experience can take a bit more planning ahead than gas-car drivers deal with, but it is improving at an exponential rate. Imagine where it will be at the end of 2024. Imagine where it will be in another five years. Imagine who else will get onboard with what’s next in the meantime.
Yes, I wanted to end 2023 on a positive note. I’m nothing if not an optimist. (Most of the time.) Now it’s your turn: what’s your biggest EV-related lesson from this year?
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