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Exclusive: the future of Ford, according to its bosses

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From Autocar, an extensive article with interesting interviews with Ford management. Keep in mind this is a British publication, so their perspective flows from British interests (in some cases).  Most of what is contained in this article is already known here on the forum, but there are tidbits that are new or at least provide more explanation behind actions of which we are already aware. For example:

 



Darren Palmer: meet ‘Mr EV’ 

Darren Palmer remembers the moment his vision of electric cars changed. It drove him to leave a dream job launching exciting conventional cars to lead Ford’s headlong dash towards an entirely new kind of battery-propelled mobility. 

“I was in charge of Mustang, Explorer and Lincoln’s performance models, and having a great time,” Palmer recalls. Then out of the blue he got the call. The new challenge, it turned out, was to become product development director of Ford’s Project Edison, a 70-strong cross-functional think-tank set up in a former hosiery factory in Detroit’s Corktown district to conceive a new range of high-performance EVs. 

“I was unsure at first,” Palmer recalls. “For me, electric cars were more about sensible buying than the exciting cars I knew. Then Sherif Marakby, our autonomous vehicle CEO, said, ‘trust me this is going to be the next big development in cars’. When you know them, you’ll love them. And he was right. 

“I just couldn’t believe how good these new cars were. They could do things you’d never do in an ICE [internal combustion-engined] car. They were just better.” 

Such passion from Palmer, a tall, fast-talking Englishman who has spent much of his 28-year Ford career on the fast-track, is all the more powerful for the fact that this is the man who delivered Ford’s much-loved Fiesta ST200, a skunkworks pocket-rocket universally admired. He also delivered the Mustang to Europe, proudly watching it become the world’s best-selling sports car. He’s a car lover since childhood, so when he starts talking about this new strain of EVs being “sexy and emotional”, you need to listen. 

The big plan, first publicised by Ford around 18 months ago and expanded since, is to spend $11 billion on a cycle of exciting EVs beginning next year. Under the deal recently agreed with Volkswagen, Fords built on the MEB platform will kick in from 2023. The flow will start next year with a ‘Mustang-based crossover’.  A battery Ford F150 will come before 2022, says Palmer, and a fully electric Transit. Palmer won’t confirm that a Ranger or Bronco (the famous compact 4x4 that’s returning with conventional power after disappearing in the mid-1990s) are in the BEV mix, but he doesn’t deny it either. 

“We’re hitting our biggest icons first,” he says, “but we have more. And we’ll keep working through them.” Meanwhile, starting now, Ford is launching a new or renewed supporting range of smaller plug-in hybrids, first being the Escape SUV (our Kuga) with a larger Explorer not far behind, although it isn’t currently planned for the UK. 

Project Edison grew out of an earlier plan to build a second generation of the decent but dull economy BEVs, such as a second-generation electric Focus. But the decision to stop making saloons in the US, along with a realisation that the way to sell new BEVs at a profit was to build exciting cars closely related to existing icons, brought a new philosophy. “We decided very carefully where we’d play in the electric car market, and that every one would amplify the characteristics of the model it was based on. Each one had to be extremely desirable, but at an attainable price,” says Palmer. 

“These cars won’t necessarily be cheap, but they’ll be gotta-have-it models, sold at a price we judge is attainable for our existing customers. They’re our focus. Ford has always democratised technology and this will be more of the same. But early adopters of BEVs have a lot to deal with, so Project Edison is working on every aspect of ownership, from the minute someone considers an electric car, through the whole web experience to buying, owning, using and charging.” 

On keeping costs under control – already a proven BEV bugbear – Palmer acknowledges challenges but has answers. “We’ve planned the entire portfolio in one go,” he says. “We’ve selected a common battery cell for our BEVs and set up long-term, large-scale relationships with suppliers, because 75% of a battery’s cost is raw materials. 

“It’s vital that every BEV is profitable because that means you can sell as many as customers want. If they’re not profitable you hold them back: why do you think so many of today’s electrics are subject to year-long waiting lists? We’ll launch, and we won’t lose money. That’s what will make our cars mainstream.” 

BEV range, Palmer admits, is something customers obsess about. Decent range hasn’t been generally available up to now, partly because of poor battery density, partly because of cost. But these things are improving, even if progress is slowed by rising demand. “A car’s range in miles begins with a 1, 2 or 3,” says Palmer. “Our research shows that when it’s a 3 anxiety drops away fast. A 300-plus capability is something we’re aiming at.” 

It’s clear Palmer could continue his rapid-fire advocacy of electric cars indefinitely, except that he has at least 100 other things to do against a punishing timetable. (He explains, for instance, how an Edison-led team recently produced a completely new infotainment system for the Mustang-based CUV in just 90 days, from plan to final hardware.) So we content ourselves with asking him to characterise the importance of the current era of car creation. 

“It’s the greatest change and opportunity in the auto industry in 30 years,” he says, “and probably a lot longer. Today’s performance BEV isn’t just about the electric motor. It’s about software, surprises, over-the-air updates, cleverness, the fact it can learn and anticipate what you want, and makes your life better. It’s an entirely new kind of product. Those who try it will never go back.”

 

I think everyone can find something in this article that will be enlightening, so I encourage you to read it and share what jumps out to you:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/enthusiasts/exclusive-the-future-of-ford-according-to-its-bosses/ar-AAGpFTs?li=BBnb7Kz&OCID=HPDHP

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On the electric car subject, I was hoping to read more about the supporting infrastructure but saw little if anything. I suppose that was not the focus of this article but it is an incredibly important aspect of the whole "electrification" process. Being in a flyover part of the country I have difficulty seeing the practicality of BEV's. Many trips are going to exceed 300 miles per day and recharging batteries seems to be a stretch. The technology will have to improve dramatically before BEV's can become the dominant platform, at least in my neighborhood. For the time being, hybrids make so much more sense. 

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2 minutes ago, blksn8k2 said:

On the electric car subject, I was hoping to read more about the supporting infrastructure but saw little if anything. I suppose that was not the focus of this article but it is an incredibly important aspect of the whole "electrification" process. Being in a flyover part of the country I have difficulty seeing the practicality of BEV's. Many trips are going to exceed 300 miles per day and recharging batteries seems to be a stretch. The technology will have to improve dramatically before BEV's can become the dominant platform, at least in my neighborhood. For the time being, hybrids make so much more sense. 

 

Read the article - there's an entire section regarding Ford's strategy for propulsion choices.

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So a decade of ICE, Hybrid and BEV side by side.  Hopefully everything associated with batteries will improve in that time period.  

Edited by barney9014

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2 hours ago, barney9014 said:

So a decade of ICE, Hybrid and BEV side by side.  Hopefully everything associated with batteries will improve in that time period.  


depending on what State/Country you're in. Some will be Hybrid and BEV only by that point.

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1 hour ago, jasonj80 said:


depending on what State/Country you're in. Some will be Hybrid and BEV only by that point.

 

In due time, many states and countries will only allow BEV, FCEV, and other ZEV to be sold as new cars. And only ZEV will be allowed within certain zones of urban areas. Wouldn't be surprised if that's the norm by the end of the next decade.

Edited by rperez817

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Predictions have really changed in three years.  This a chart from back then.  I haven’t found anything newer.

A7E36F12-42AD-4E98-9472-1813A8770CE0.jpeg

Edited by barney9014

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"... only ZEV will be allowed "

 

Well, look back to 20 years ago, 1999, the 2000's were coming and we were all supposed to be in "futuristic cars" by now. Full sized pickups still rule the market.

California's 1998 mandate for more ZEV came and went, for example.  A giant "we'll see".

 

Edited by 630land

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This is good in some respects.  BEV's are clearly the future for passenger cars, CUV's, and some light trucks.  Most manufacturers now regard hybrids as dead-end technology.  Hybrids have played an important part on the road to BEV's, both in customer acceptance and the advance of battery technology, but they will soon be eclipsed by the next generation BEV's.  Ford seems to have not gotten that memo.  And that leads to a nagging perception I have (that I hope is wrong) that Ford is actually behind in BEV technology.  And the technology isn't the only issue, more importantly is how to make BEV's profitably.  Grand statements by senior executives, historic buildings full of forward thinkers, and (fresh off their diesel scandal) Johnny-come-lately VW ultimately might not amount to much.  At least they are not chasing the elusive H dream.     

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1 hour ago, 7Mary3 said:

This is good in some respects.  BEV's are clearly the future for passenger cars, CUV's, and some light trucks.  Most manufacturers now regard hybrids as dead-end technology.  Hybrids have played an important part on the road to BEV's, both in customer acceptance and the advance of battery technology, but they will soon be eclipsed by the next generation BEV's.  Ford seems to have not gotten that memo.  And that leads to a nagging perception I have (that I hope is wrong) that Ford is actually behind in BEV technology.  And the technology isn't the only issue, more importantly is how to make BEV's profitably.  Grand statements by senior executives, historic buildings full of forward thinkers, and (fresh off their diesel scandal) Johnny-come-lately VW ultimately might not amount to much.  At least they are not chasing the elusive H dream.     

 

Nobody is making BEVs profitably right now.  That’s why you don’t see more of them yet.  I don’t think Ford is behind at all.  I just think it’s not a priority in terms of profit and they’re doing what is necessary to have the platforms and systems ready if and when they become mainstream and profitable,  

 

What does a BEV do that a Fusion energi doesn’t already do?  Plug it in, recharge it, drive on battery power alone.  BEVs have bigger batteries and motors and better packaging.  It’s not rocket science at this point.

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2 hours ago, 7Mary3 said:

BEV's are clearly the future for passenger cars, CUV's, and some light trucks.  Most manufacturers now regard hybrids as dead-end technology.  Hybrids have played an important part on the road to BEV's, both in customer acceptance and the advance of battery technology, but they will soon be eclipsed by the next generation BEV's.  Ford seems to have not gotten that memo. 

 

Excellent points about BEV versus hybrids 7Mary3 sir. The reason "Ford seems to have not gotten that memo" is that Ford is one of the few automakers that succeeded in selling and marketing hybrid vehicles in the U.S. (along with Toyota and Honda). Hybrids are familiar to Ford. Like Toyota, Ford wants get the most of its investment in hybrids before the inevitable transition to a BEV only lineup.

 

One thing Ford has in its favor is the BEV F-150 that's currently under development. There's a strong possibility that Ford will be the first to mass produce a BEV pickup truck that's not a science fair project. That's a very big deal.

 

1 hour ago, akirby said:

What does a BEV do that a Fusion energi doesn’t already do? 

 

Fusion Energi, like other PHEV, is an IC vehicle with limited EV capability (only 26 mi EV range). Studies show that many PHEV owners rarely or never plug them in. The PHEV proportion of all plug-in vehicles is declining.

 

A recent consumer study by AutoThink Research says that hybrids and PHEV are "doing more to delay the consumer transition from ICE vehicles to EVs than to serve as a useful “bridge” or transition facilitator." They recommend that automakers produce extended range versions of BEV and stop producing hybrids and PHEV. http://autothink.org/AbstractandTableofContents.pdf

https://drive.google.com/open?id=13CQm85zUATVHS1oFFU0SNKzjgOBQqNTX

 



Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids may be doing more to delay the consumer transition from
ICE vehicles to EVs than to serve as a useful “bridge” or transition facilitator.


EVs are now ready for prime time (i.e., as a fully capable substitute for millions of ICE vehicles).
Hybrids and Plug-in hybrids (especially the ones offering only 10 – 25 miles of auxiliary electric
range) may actually be perpetuating and prolonging the use of internal combustion engines
and petroleum more than they are facilitating the transition to all-battery EVs.

 

EREVs. As this survey has shown, EREVs are a different animal than Hybrids and Plug-in
Hybrids. EREV owners view them and drive them differently than Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
owners view and drive their vehicles. EREVs provide more of the benefits of an EV than
Hybrids or Plug-in Hybrids do and EREVs have more range and convenience and flexibility for
long-range trips than all-battery EVs currently have. In many ways EREVs provide the best of
both the ICE and EV worlds.

 

It is somewhat ironic, therefore, that the automotive manufacturers who created and
produced the only EREV vehicles on the market – General Motors with the Chevrolet
Volt and Cadillac ELR and BMW with the i3 REx – have both stopped production and
sales of these vehicles (GM has stopped production and sales of both the ELR and Volt
in the U.S., and BMW has stopped the sales of their REx version in Germany).

 

Recommendation. Create EREV versions of EVs. Stop developing and offering Hybrids
and Plug-in Hybrids.
We think there is a much greater consumer need and use for EREVs
now than there is for Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids. EREVs – ones that have at least 75-mile
electric range and a 100-mile-plus ICE range (and an ICE engine that generates enough power
for all highway speeds and hills) – would be the most functional, flexible and least constrained
vehicle choice for those currently living in and/or frequently traveling through rural areas (i.e.,
areas or routes where fast-recharging stations are sparsely deployed). We can imagine EREVs
being produced and offered as the “luxury version” or “long-distance travel option”) of
manufacturers’ standard EV models. This upscale or “extra functionality” positioning could help
justify the added cost of the ICE electric generator. Cadillac’s ELR (GM’s upscale version of
the Chevrolet Volt) could have been that, but it was never positioned that way, and was the
victim of a failure of marketing. Tesla, for example, could also offer EREV versions of its
vehicles as the ultimate in unlimited range, convenience, security, and peace of mind. EREV
versions of EV pickup trucks might be especially appealing for pickup owners who don’t live or
work in urban areas.

 

We offer this recommendation – and all of the recommendations here – from a consumer point
of view, what we think would work best and be most appealing for consumers. We realize that
an automotive manufacturer needs to consider many other factors – involving engineering,
materials, costs, production, etc. – when making their best business decision. We emphasize
the consumer point of view here – in our survey, our analysis, and our conclusions – because
we believe it has been poorly researched and superficially considered in regard to the
alternative propulsion vehicles by much of the auto industry up until now.

 

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You didn’t answer the question - if you removed the ICE and added more batteries the Fusion energi is EXACTLY like a BEV.  It has a charger and can run on battery power alone.  Therefore Ford has the technology for BEVs and has had it for at least a decade.  In fact it’s harder to do a PHEV because of the ICE integration.

 

that other crap you posted is nothing but green propaganda,  For most buyers range isn’t long enough (especially in the cold) and recharging isn’t fast enough and the cost is still prohibitive (if you look at the true cost that would yield profits to the mfr and not Tesla’s ponzi scheme).  Until those get fixed, which will take at least another generation of batteries and significant investments in on road charging, hevs and phevs are a damn good interim step.  But they don’t fit the agenda.

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1 hour ago, akirby said:

You didn’t answer the question - if you removed the ICE and added more batteries the Fusion energi is EXACTLY like a BEV.  It has a charger and can run on battery power alone.  Therefore Ford has the technology for BEVs and has had it for at least a decade.  In fact it’s harder to do a PHEV because of the ICE integration.

 

that other crap you posted is nothing but green propaganda,  For most buyers range isn’t long enough (especially in the cold) and recharging isn’t fast enough and the cost is still prohibitive (if you look at the true cost that would yield profits to the mfr and not Tesla’s ponzi scheme).  Until those get fixed, which will take at least another generation of batteries and significant investments in on road charging, hevs and phevs are a damn good interim step.  But they don’t fit the agenda.

+1... I'll have no trouble buying an EV, but not until:  they have a 300 to 400 high performance mile range; they can be fully recharged in the same amount of time as filling a gas tank; they can be recharged at as many places as filling a gas tank; they can make fake engine sounds when I long for the good old days!!  These are the real things holding EVs back and Hybrids/PHEVs offer the best and only solutions right now for those not willing or able to accept the compromises imposed by every current EV available.  Blaming hybrids for the slow adoption of EVs and Ford for not flooding the country with charging stations are absolutely rediculous statements.

Edited by CoolScoop

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1 hour ago, akirby said:

You didn’t answer the question - if you removed the ICE and added more batteries the Fusion energi is EXACTLY like a BEV.  It has a charger and can run on battery power alone.  Therefore Ford has the technology for BEVs and has had it for at least a decade.  In fact it’s harder to do a PHEV because of the ICE integration.

 

How many Fusion Energi owners removed the ICE from their car and added more batteries to it? If there are any at all, that number is certainly lower than the number of Fusion Energi owners who rarely or never plug-in to charge the high voltage battery.

 

Read the AutoThink study linked in my previous post. It clearly indicates that PHEV owners don't use their cars "EXACTLY like a BEV". Toyota, Ford, and to a lesser extent Honda, if they continue to pursue hybrid technology that 7Mary3 correctly described as "dead end", will be at a disadvantage to automakers like GM and VW who are going all in with BEV and are discontinuing sales of hybrids. https://www.ibtimes.com/no-more-hybrids-gm-volkswagen-exit-hybrid-vehicle-business-2812283

 

 

 

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1st think I noticed in the full report is that it wasn't a random sample.  It was a self selected survey posted to several facebook groups.  They don't have nearly enough responses to gauge anything from a self selected survey.

Invitations to participate in “a survey on electric vehicles” were posted in more than two dozen online


Facebook Groups, forums, and blogs (Appendix A, p. 116). More than 1500 people interacted with the
online survey (the entire survey can be found in Appendix B, pp. 117 -165). After eliminating people
who started the survey but dropped out before going very far (127) and people who reside outside the
US and Canada (52), we were left with 1392 surveys to analyze.

 

 

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1 hour ago, rperez817 said:

 

How many Fusion Energi owners removed the ICE from their car and added more batteries to it? If there are any at all, that number is certainly lower than the number of Fusion Energi owners who rarely or never plug-in to charge the high voltage battery.

 

Read the AutoThink study linked in my previous post. It clearly indicates that PHEV owners don't use their cars "EXACTLY like a BEV". Toyota, Ford, and to a lesser extent Honda, if they continue to pursue hybrid technology that 7Mary3 correctly described as "dead end", will be at a disadvantage to automakers like GM and VW who are going all in with BEV and are discontinuing sales of hybrids. https://www.ibtimes.com/no-more-hybrids-gm-volkswagen-exit-hybrid-vehicle-business-2812283

 

 

 

 

As usual you COMPLETELY missed the point.  The point was that Ford is not behind at all when it comes to BEVs.  They know exactly how to make a BEV because of their PHEV experience.  

 

As long as Ford has the platforms for BEVs then they can keep up with whatever the market demands.  If BEVs don’t magically take over the market Ford will be in a great position with hybrids and phevs.

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1 hour ago, Flying68 said:

1st think I noticed in the full report is that it wasn't a random sample.  It was a self selected survey posted to several facebook groups.  They don't have nearly enough responses to gauge anything from a self selected survey.

 

 

He’ll believe anything he reads.

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On 8/28/2019 at 4:30 PM, barney9014 said:

Predictions have really changed in three years.  This a chart from back then.  I haven’t found anything newer.

A7E36F12-42AD-4E98-9472-1813A8770CE0.jpeg

35% WORLD WIDE by 2040 is about what I would expect.  BEV are great in high population density areas IF the power generation and grid are up to the task.

 

Geographically, many parts of the US will be far below that number.

Edited by theoldwizard

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10 hours ago, CoolScoop said:

+1... I'll have no trouble buying an EV, but not until:  they have a 300 to 400 high performance mile range; they can be fully recharged in the same amount of time as filling a gas tank; they can be recharged at as many places as filling a gas tank; they can make fake engine sounds when I long for the good old days!!  These are the real things holding EVs back and Hybrids/PHEVs offer the best and only solutions right now for those not willing or able to accept the compromises imposed by every current EV available.  Blaming hybrids for the slow adoption of EVs and Ford for not flooding the country with charging stations are absolutely rediculous statements.

 

Please save me from fake engine sound! (...or at least let me turn the annoying noise off.) Hmm, I wonder if the people who first bought automobiles complained about the lack of clopping hoof sounds.

 

But (more) seriously, some good points. My Nautilus lease is up in 3 years. I'll most likely then be looking at either the redesigned Nautilus or the new "Nautilus sized" BEV crossover Ford/Lincoln say should be out around that time. If pricing and functionality are similar and if FMC builds a world-class BEV, the latter would certainly win on raw performance (hard to beat the instant torque of an electric motor) but the former might still win my hard-earned money in terms of vehicle utility depending on how much range and recharging times/availability have improved. And on that final note, I either have to have moved (a strong possibility) or my condo development needs to have put in overnight charging ability (not going to happen).

Edited by Gurgeh

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Related to Ford as a company, the biggest impact and potentially biggest profit center for BEV's would be to produce a 150 mi to 200 mi range (whatever covers 95% of commercial operators) Transit vans and light duty pickups for the fleet operators.  These are the companies that run local service vans and probably put on 100 miles a day on service calls then park them back at the main office.  Ford could greatly reduce those operators running costs by providing a BEV solution where each vehicle is charged overnight at their main depot.  FedEX, UPS, USPS could all benefit.  I think F-250's and such are going to remain ICE for a while but there is a use case for a BEV F-250, but I think market acceptance will be limited right now. Getting more mass market penetration will take some time.  Rural parts of the country will still depend on ICE vehicles until the infrastructure improves.  PHEV's are not holding back adoption of BEVs, range, charging time, and infrastructure is.  If I want to make a 500 mile trip in 8 hours, a BEV is out.  If you want to tow on a long vacation, BEV is out.  There are not enough charge points available and the charge time is still too long.  It takes 5 minutes or less to pump 20 gallons of gas and there are gas stations every 50 miles or so in most rural areas, chargers not so many of those though.

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11 hours ago, rperez817 said:

 

How many Fusion Energi owners removed the ICE from their car and added more batteries to it? If there are any at all, that number is certainly lower than the number of Fusion Energi owners who rarely or never plug-in to charge the high voltage battery.

 

Read the AutoThink study linked in my previous post. It clearly indicates that PHEV owners don't use their cars "EXACTLY like a BEV". Toyota, Ford, and to a lesser extent Honda, if they continue to pursue hybrid technology that 7Mary3 correctly described as "dead end", will be at a disadvantage to automakers like GM and VW who are going all in with BEV and are discontinuing sales of hybrids. https://www.ibtimes.com/no-more-hybrids-gm-volkswagen-exit-hybrid-vehicle-business-2812283

 

GM and VW are dropping hybrids because they suck at them and conversely nobody has bought the hybrids they've offered.

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What happens when you misscalculate your EV range to the next available charging station (that's not even on your best route) and run out of juice on a stretch of road with many gas stations (but none have a charging station)... can you call AAA for a quick charge or do you need to get it towed to the charging station?  How inconvenient and worrisome is that.  And when you do stop for charges on long trip with a well planned but indirect route for charging stations, what do you do each time while its charging... take a long nap; have a four course meal with appetizer and desert; try to make friends and party with the others charging their cars; play a game with the kids seeing who can guess how many hundreds of cars (including Hybrids and PHEVs) fill up with gas before you get a full charge; all of the above?

Edited by CoolScoop

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6 minutes ago, CoolScoop said:

What happens when you misscalculate your EV range to the next available charging station (that's not even on your best route) and run out of juice on a stretch of road with many gas stations (but none have a charging station)... can you call AAA for a quick charge or do you need to get it towed to the charging station?  How inconvenient and worrisome is that.  And when you do stop for charges on long trip with a well planned but indirect route for charging stations, what do you do each time while its charging... take a long nap; have a four course meal with appetizer and desert; try to make friends and party with the others charging their cars; play a game with the kids seeing who can guess how many hundreds of cars fill up with gas before you get a full charge; all of the above?

 

How is that any different then running out of gas? One major difference about having an electric car is you can charge at home as needed. 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, silvrsvt said:

 

How is that any different then running out of gas? One major difference about having an electric car is you can charge at home as this 

Completely different... far less likely to run out of gas on a long trip because of the abundance of gas stations and 5 minute fill ups.  I did run out of gas once... AAA came in 10 minutes and gave me plenty of gas to drive to a gas station. My boss and a his wife both had Teslas (S and X) for a while... but they had several bad experiences on long trips.  Now they have a F150 Limited and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and are much happier... they went all in for EVs but dropped out due to all the inconveniences.

Edited by CoolScoop

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