DC Fast Charging – It Could Get Addictive!

I am still rather new to DC Fast Charging, even though it has been available for a while now in NJ, albeit in small numbers – make that very small numbers. Don’t misunderstand, I know what it is – a network of high powered charging stations that allow you to recharge your car in minutes rather than the hours we expect from Level 2 stations, it’s just that I don’t really have much of a need to use it as, I never drive that far on a daily basis and the range that I have more than covers my daily needs. But, on the odd occasion that I need to go further than my range allows then to have DC Fast Charging as an option is an absolute must. It might seem a bit much to say absolute but it is an absolute must. I’m okay with sitting for 20 minutes while my car charges up but I really don’t want to be sat for 3 hours waiting for a full charge and neither does anyone else. We need the DC Fast Charging option to be in plentiful supply to get more people into Electric Cars.

Recently we took a trip, one that with our current available range would have meant we wouldn’t have been able to reach our destination. The temperature was way below freezing and apparently my sidekick couldn’t survive without the heating on and he didn’t want to drive at 45mph on the motorway! That meant we would need to charge along our route. Checking what was available we found that BMW of North America had multiple DC Fast Charging units that was only a short detour from our route.  Excellent – there was a good chance that at least one of them would be in good working order. As yes, that is the other issue we face – we need to have plenty of DC Fast Charging units and they all need to be maintained and in good working order.

With the route planned to the DC Fast Charger we set off and kept to a nice reasonable speed, thank you sidekick!  We arrived at the DC Fast Chargers with less than 50% charge and set about finding the chargers. We located one but it was broken – uh oh. Then we found one that was super speedy – this would be cool, lots of electrons in even less time but alas it was not to be – that was broken too – uh oh again?! At this point my sidekick went inside one of the buildings to enquire as to where there might be some working chargers. We were directed to a different building where we would find a row of chargers – ooh exciting… maybe! We drove to the location and low and behold there they were. We picked one and plugged in and phew it worked! While the car was charging it was time to check emails just in case there was anything important as we had 20 minutes to sit and wait, which was all the charging time we needed to get enough miles in to get to our destination. Well, we ended up sitting there for more like an hour, a little longer than anticipated as work decided that it would suddenly get very busy. Oh well, the car got a full charge instead. One side benefit we discovered was that the heating system could be engaged whilst we were charging making the whole experience quite pleasant.

Fast charging is CCS flavor on the i3 – two extra pins under the regular socket

At our destination, the Delamar Hotel in Greenwich Connecticut, we knew we would have Level 1 charging which, with an overnight stay meant the car would be fully charged the following day. However, arriving at our hotel we were pleasantly surprised to see a Level 2 charger and a Tesla destination charger too. The hotel we were staying at has their own Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X which they use to ferry guests around the local area, as well as for their own business needs. This is really impressive.

On our return trip we stopped at the same chargers again. It was a Sunday and the place was deserted – that might also be because it was snowing too. We charged up for 20 minutes and set of for home at a slow pace as the roads were not cleared very well.

A week later we took another drive up north to do a little bit of shopping and stopped at the same chargers. When we arrived there was another i3 plugged into one of the DC fast Chargers – always good to see them being used. We plugged in and charged up for 20 minutes to get us enough electricity to get to our destination and then return to the chargers for a boost to get back home. While sat there waiting for the car to charge, it was interesting to watch petrol car drivers driving by looking for somewhere to park. Here the spaces are marked for EV Charging only and people do seem to be respecting that. Having been here twice now we didn’t find any non-electric cars parked in the spaces.

When we returned to the chargers, a couple of hours later, the very same i3 was still plugged in. Fortunately, there are a few DC Fast Chargers there so no issue with us plugging into another one. But what if it was busy or some of them weren’t working? That particular i3 had long since finished charging but no one had retuned to move it. Now, this is a BMW owned facility so likely it was one of their i3’s but even so they should still move it when finished charging so others can plug in if they need to. That’s another battle to win!

This fast charging is rather addictive, the fact that you can charge up quickly is great and makes such a difference to your journey time. I’d even consider driving further if I could be assured that there was a plentiful supply of working DC Fast Charging units along the route. I would be totally fine having to stop a few times for 20 – 30 minutes to charge up.

We are seeing more DC Fast Chargers appearing, but we do still need more and that is happening, just not very fast and not fast enough for me to take that drive to Canada – Yes I would drive in my BMW 13 to Canada if the network of DC Fast chargers were there. It would be quite the adventure.