Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask my opinion of electric vehicles, either a particular model that has caught their eye, or general questions like whether charging is time-consuming, or if it’s hard it is to find chargers.
I’m happy to offer my opinions because I’ve long said that educating consumers about the advantages and disadvantages of EVs is a necessary step that automakers and dealers seem hesitant to undertake. To some extent I understand why, if you are trying to sell a product, you aren’t going to tell a potential customer why they shouldn’t buy it.
There are some amazing EVs on the market. I recently spent a week test-driving the Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 and was blown away by both its performance and appearance.
The light “Nova Grey” interior was luxurious and thoughtfully designed. The back seats looked like a high-end designer couch. And the choice of “sound experiences” (since EVs don’t make noise) was delightful. I chose Roaring Pulse, which sounded like a lion’s meow every time I stepped on the accelerator pedal.
Now granted, this is a vehicle with a base price of $77,900 (the model I tested was $89,155 with options and delivery charges) so it should be pretty special for that amount of money.
Last week, my Lexus-driving optometrist asked me about both EVs and the Detroit Auto Show (which just concluded its public days). I told him he should definitely check it out, and to make sure he took a ride in a couple of EVs on the test track. He was more interested in driving one himself, something he hasn’t had the opportunity to do yet.
He also asked about the charging situation in metro Detroit. I was honest with him and said it still had a ways to go. I still have to drive too far (in my opinion) to reach a level 3 “fast charger,” and I too often find them out of order.
Roof Gnomes agrees with me. The company recently named Detroit dead last in its study, 2023's Best Cities to Own an Electric Car. Roof Gnomes compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on EV incentives, infrastructure, costs, and safety. More specifically, it factored in EV laws, electricity costs, charging station access, and even solar energy potential from viable roofs in each city, among 15 key metrics.
Detroit is not alone. A recent study from J.D. Power confirms that public satisfaction with the state of public charging has continues to fall behind.
The recent move to open Tesla Superchargers to non-Tesla owners could improve the situation, but such efforts might not be the answer that some suggest, as overall satisfaction continues to decline, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Public Charging Study.
EV owners are increasingly dissatisfied with the amount of time it takes to charge their vehicles and the location of public chargers, according to the study.
The results of this year's study should be very concerning to all those involved in the transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, says Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power.
“Although the majority of EV charging occurs at home, public charging needs to provide a much better experience across the board—not just for the users of today, but also to alleviate the concerns of skeptical future customers,” Gruber says. “A lot of work is under way to address these issues, but there is certainly much more work to be done.”
On the upside, one Michigan city that I dinged for not having any fast chargers — East Lansing — is finally getting its act together with the installation of two on the Michigan State University campus.
Michigan Development of Environment Community Program Director Jennifer Crawford says “the journey towards more electric vehicle friendly infrastructure is just beginning.
“It takes a village to raise a charging station and that's why it's important for us to recognize milestones like today, but our work has really just begun,” Crawford told The State News.
Hopefully it’s the first two of many more in East Lansing and across the state.