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EV charging remains a great question for the burgeoning industry. Michigan's DTE Energy is the first to tackle developing a specialized bill scheme for EVs (Chevy Volt charger is pictured).  (Source: Car Fanatic Forum)
Customers can also opt for cheaper off-peak charging; may have to pay up to $2,500 for high-tech meter

The Tesla Roadster is already prowling the streets while the 2011 Chevy Volt and 2011 Nissan LEAF EV are preparing to launch later this year.  That's familiar news to most, but what might be a little more hazy is how the growing ranks of EVs are getting their power.

Amid all the EV excitement, charging has been one topic that has been decidedly undercovered -- largely due to lack of available information.  However, the Michigan Public Service Commission this week announced that it had approved the state's first experimental rate for residential customers to recharge their EVs.  

Utility DTE Energy Co.'s Detroit Edison unit filed the application.  By having a regimented payment infrastructure and usage monitoring, the utility will be able to better cope with demand and presumably provide customers with more competitive rates than if it left them on their own to install home charging stations and charge off their current connections.

DTE Energy is offering EV customers two options -- either pay a flat rate of $40 per vehicle per month, or sign up for a lower, variable off-peak rate.  The big expense will be the installation of a specialized meter circuit and charging station -- DTE Energy says that customers may be charged up to $2,500 for that.  It's unclear whether automaker-provided chargers will be compatible with DTE's system.

The trial program will run through December 31, 2012 and can cover up to 2,500 consumers.

For moderately heavy drivers (40-100 miles per day), assuming $40/week in gas expenses and the full charging station cost, it looks like customers will start to see savings in about 2 years.  While those savings have a long way to go towards justifying the large cost premiums on the Volt and Leaf, they're a start, at least.



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By namechamps on 8/11/2010 10:24:25 AM , Rating: 5
My electric rate for example is 10.5 cents per kWh.

Given most EV get 4 to 6 miles per kWh that means average EV going say 12,000 miles per year would use 2000 to 3000 kWh annually.

That's $210 to $315 a year ($17.00 to $26.25 a month).

So someone gets to pay $2,500 up front in order to pay "only" $30 a month. Really?

Unless drivers in MI drive a LOT of miles (20,000, 30,000, 100,000 miles a year) OR electric rates are very high (like 15 cents per kWh or more) I am not seeing the value.

Anyone live in MI and can comment on the electric rates?




By spwrozek on 8/11/2010 10:30:56 AM , Rating: 2
With Consumers:

Electric Rate: 8.5164 cents per kWh
Total Rate: 12.7844 cents per kWh


By Cypherdude1 on 8/14/2010 11:02:48 PM , Rating: 2
Being forced to pay $2,500 for a meter is ridiculous. It shows how desperate for money MI is.


By Radnor on 8/11/2010 10:35:32 AM , Rating: 2
In the US with the low price of Gas I think it is hardly a good bussiness.

Here in Europe in the other hand, aliter os gas can up to 1.4€ in some countries.

1 Gallon = 3.785 Liters
1 Gallon = 5.299 Euros per gallon.
1 Gallon = 6.959 Dollares.

And gas isn't too expensive atm. So i believe Europe wil get ahead, just because of prices per liter/gallon.


By Ammohunt on 8/11/2010 1:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
The wholesale gas price is the same your gas is expensive becasue of taxes. Reduce the tax and you guys can be in the same boat.


By Gul Westfale on 8/11/2010 5:34:04 PM , Rating: 5
but we don't wanna be in the boat that doesn't have decent healthcare, education, or infrasructures.


By aston12 on 8/11/2010 6:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
But this caveman here does not want an ipod!

Taxes are the way they are here, the point remains with our taxes it might actually be a good alternative. Although they ll probably will tax it high to once many people use it... .


By Spuke on 8/11/2010 7:00:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but we don't wanna be in the boat that doesn't have decent healthcare, education, or infrasructures.
I and millions of other Americans have great healthcare and education!! Don't know what you mean by infrastructure. Let me clue you in on a little secret about the US. You will learn absolutely nothing about our country by watching our "news" outlets. They are publicly traded companies that exist to turn a profit and part of that is by wining viewers. And since Americans have this morbid fascination with death and destruction, that's what you see on these "news" outlets. They show the worst of everything and stretch the truth (and lies) to something that does NOT resemble reality.

I know others have said this before (me included) but the culture of the US and Europeans is different. I leave it to you to discover what those differences are and how they may be relevant to discussions of healthcare, education, values, work ethic, goals and aspirations, and etc.

Good day to you sir.


By hyvonen on 8/12/2010 12:01:49 AM , Rating: 1
Depends on what you consider a "public University". There are plenty that are called 'public' in the US, but you still pay an arm & leg to attend. Meanwhile, 'public' european universities don't charge tuition etc. (and you might get a stipend from the government to pay for your housing/food/books etc.).

And to those who think the taxes are so high... overall, the taxes between Europe and the US are roughly the same, when you factor in additional american 'taxes' like Medicare, social security taxes, state taxes...

Note also, that in Europe you don't have to pay high health insurance premiums (or massive deductibles/copays/coinsurances), and dental care is included (which, for some reason, isn't considered part of your health insurance in the US). If you tell a European that "my annual out-of-pocket maximum is only $4000", you get laughed at.

Factor in also the fact that European social security is pretty much guaranteed, while in the US there are no guarantees, and even if you get what they promise you now, it's nowhere enough to actually retire on... you have to save money for your retirement yourself (with 401k's, IRAs etc). These necessary retirement savings could also be considered a "tax" when comparing to Europe.

Make no mistake, US is a great place if you're rich, but a baaaad place if you're poor (or, at least baaaad compared to Europe).


By Solandri on 8/12/2010 2:23:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And to those who think the taxes are so high... overall, the taxes between Europe and the US are roughly the same, when you factor in additional american 'taxes' like Medicare, social security taxes, state taxes...

Total US tax burden is about 35% in the U.S. vs. ~45% for the EU.
http://images.forbes.com/media/2009/04/02/asiaTax....

quote:
Note also, that in Europe you don't have to pay high health insurance premiums (or massive deductibles/copays/coinsurances).
...
Factor in also the fact that European social security is pretty much guaranteed, while in the US there are no guarantees,
...
Make no mistake, US is a great place if you're rich, but a baaaad place if you're poor (or, at least baaaad compared to Europe).

That's because Europe has been living beyond its means to a far greater extent and for far longer than the U.S. You haven't paid for the services you're getting right now. You've simply dumped the costs onto your kids and your grandkids.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_...

Note: The U.S. used to be at about 37% on the above chart as recently as 2007. The last 4 years have not been pretty here (it's projected to hit 67% by the end of 2010).


By Penti on 8/12/2010 3:55:23 AM , Rating: 2
Making money isn't a bad thing, you have to factor in a continuous trade deficit of the US for the last 34 years since 76.

Welfare states such as Sweden, Denmark and Finland rank lower then the US, in regard to public debt. We generally has a good trade balance and so on. And just because our neighbor Norway has high loans doesn't by any means mean that they have lived beyond their means or don't have any money or business.

Norway has more in their sovereign wealth fund then Saudi Arabia.

Neither is Germany a weak country.

Everybody can't live on the petrodollar, we have to pay for your overvaluation too.


By knutjb on 8/12/2010 4:11:22 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Welfare states such as Sweden, Denmark and Finland rank lower then the US, in regard to public debt.
But Sweden is having to severely limit immigration in order to keep their very delicate balance between massive social services and those who support it. The recent influx of service consumers who are not paying in will push them into debt. As to Germany they are moving from the unsustainable left social welfare policy to a more fiscally conservative view. Merkel has a clue, unlike our leadership.


By Solandri on 8/12/2010 5:21:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Making money isn't a bad thing, you have to factor in a continuous trade deficit of the US for the last 34 years since 76.

I was trying to avoid bringing that up (since I actually agree with a lot of Europe's policies), but since you did... Here are the countries by foreign debt (i.e. public and private debt owed to foreigners). The EU fares far worse than the U.S. by that measure than by public debt.
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_deb_ext_perg...

quote:
Welfare states such as Sweden, Denmark and Finland rank lower then the US, in regard to public debt.

As I said, prior to 2007 the U.S. had less public debt than all but Sweden.

quote:
just because our neighbor Norway has high loans doesn't by any means mean that they have lived beyond their means or don't have any money or business. Norway has more in their sovereign wealth fund then Saudi Arabia.

Per capita, Norway is one of the biggest oil producers and exporters in the world. At current prices, they produce more than $16,000 worth of oil per citizen per year, over 90% of which is exported. It's rather astounding they've managed to rack up 60% public debt despite that influx of essentially free money.
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_pro_perc...

quote:
Neither is Germany a weak country.

Agreed. I'm not trying to villainize the EU here. I think you guys also do a lot of things right. I'm just trying to refute the previous poster who was trying to villainize the U.S. This is not a matter of everything the EU does is right and everything the U.S. does is wrong, nor is it everything the EU does is wrong and everything the U.S. does is right. Both do some things right and some things wrong. And a lot of the things they do differently are just because of culture, and probably wouldn't work if implemented in the other.

quote:
Everybody can't live on the petrodollar, we have to pay for your overvaluation too.

Blame the Chinese. A large part of the USD being overvalued is due to deliberate policy decisions by the Fed to try to get China to stop pegging the Yuan to the USD, and switch it to a true free-floating currency. It was a contributing factor to the Fed's decision to keep interest rates low, causing a moderate housing bubble to explode into a monster, which caused the current financial crisis when it popped.


By Wolfgangap on 8/11/2010 10:35:55 AM , Rating: 2
How big is the Volt? Does it compare to the Civic or the Accord? I would rather buy the Accord than a $42,000 car + $2,500 charger + $40 increase in my electric bill.


By theArchMichael on 8/11/2010 10:44:53 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah but even on a civic your gas bill would probably be around $120 to $150, so your paying a third of that with electric and I think you don't necessarily need that charging station that edison is pushing.

I was under the assumption you can just plug it in.


By vapore0n on 8/11/2010 11:06:04 AM , Rating: 2
And even then, it would take like 5 years just to break even from buying a Volt vs an Accord. Most Americans swap their cars after 5 years. Not to mention the leased cars which are swapped every 3 years.

Gas is still too cheap. Electric cars are still too expensive.


By Gungel on 8/11/2010 12:49:00 PM , Rating: 3
You can't compare the Volt and Leave. The Nissan Leave is really just for short trips around town. It also uses 'primitive' battery tech which works more like a golf cart. Heat and cold can greatly reduce the range of the Leave whereas the Volt has a range extender and thermal battery management.


By Gungel on 8/11/2010 12:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, Leaf not Leave


By Spuke on 8/11/2010 2:53:56 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Volt is inferior not only in price. It's a tiny niche vehicle for single.
The Volt is a niche vehicle and the Leaf is not? Can I get a puff of what you're smoking?


By rvd2008 on 8/11/2010 3:50:52 PM , Rating: 2
Volt, as I explained earlier, is only suitable as a single car for a single owner (no kids). It is 4 seater. So it is its niche.

Now, Leaf is a different thing. It is 5 passenger car, good for a family, especially as a 2nd car. You can call it a niche too, but Leaf niche size is way bigger than Volt.

And GM agrees, just look how many they intend to manufacture and sell, compare that to Nissan estimates. They both have done market research.


By Gungel on 8/11/2010 4:22:46 PM , Rating: 3
There is millions of families with one or two kids. The Volt also offers a larger trunk, but the biggest advantage is its range extender which is a great security feature. Imagine getting stuck with empty batteries in a bad neighborhood or you're caught in a snow storm at 10F and your batteries have to run your heater and traffic is moving at 1-2mph.


By namechamps on 8/11/2010 4:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
Volt seats 5 just as the Lead does.

Of course I wouldn't want to be the 5th person in either vehicle.

Even if Volt only seated 4 what makes you think it couldn't be used by a family. Most households are less than 5 persons. Actually 80% of households are less than 5 persons.


By afkrotch on 8/11/2010 9:06:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Volt is inferior not only in price. It's a tiny niche vehicle for single


The Volt is larger than the Leaf. Just cause one's a 4 door and one's a 5 door doesn't mean the 5 door is automatically larger.

Course when your Leaf dies on the highway, good luck. At least with a hybrid, you have some kind of backup.


By Iaiken on 8/11/2010 11:43:25 AM , Rating: 1
Based on my last personal CVA of the Volt (at the $42,000 MSRP), it would take me 178,000 all-electric miles to break even vs a 40mpg class-equivalent.

Due to flying all over the place for business and pleasure, I only put about 9,000 miles on my personal car per year so the Volt would pay for itself in 19 years and 10 months.

CAN YOU SAY BARGAIN!?!

Add in the $20,000 markup and the Volt only makes sense for people with money to burn.


By Gungel on 8/11/2010 4:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
That's why GM is leasing it for $350 a month.


By afkrotch on 8/11/2010 9:22:29 PM , Rating: 2
I've put about 3k miles on my car the past 11 years. Wonder how long the volt would pay for itself in my circumstances.


By PlasmaBomb on 8/12/2010 9:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
654 years 6 months?


By marvdmartian on 8/11/2010 2:52:02 PM , Rating: 1
Likely longer than that.

I drive a Hyundai Sonata, and figured out that I would have to drive over 600,000 miles in a Volt, just to break even. I posted those numbers in an earlier thread about the Volt, after I was marked down in rep, because people thought I was simply being negative about the car, just for the sake of being negative.

And that wasn't even figuring in the cost of the electricity that it would take to re-charge the battery every night, if needed.

Electric charges like this just put another nail (or so) into the coffin of why these electric/hybrid cars are not worth the money, if you're only doing it for the gas savings.


By Spuke on 8/11/2010 2:57:55 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Electric charges like this just put another nail (or so) into the coffin of why these electric/hybrid cars are not worth the money, if you're only doing it for the gas savings.
Why would anyone volunteer their EV ownership to the electric company so they can charge you these higher rates? Just plug it in and go.


By namechamps on 8/11/2010 4:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
You made an error in calculations or are comparing apples to oranges (like comparing a paid of Sonata to brand new Volt).

Volt is roughly $20,000 more than the Sonata. Sonata gets 29 mpg combined. Volt gets about 4.5 miles per kWh

Say over next decade gasoline averages $4. (you didn't use current gasoline prices and assume they will never go up over next decade right?)

At $4 gasoline the Sonata costs 13.7 cents per mile.
At $0.10 per kWh the Volt (on electric) costs about 2.2 cents per mile. Net-net you save about 12.5 cents per mile drive.

$20,0000 premium / $0.125 = 160,000 miles.

Break even if 160,000 electric miles. Still I agree the volt is not economical but it is a first gen. Check back in a decade.

Maybe you got rated down both times because your math skills suck?


By Solandri on 8/12/2010 1:59:50 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
At $0.10 per kWh the Volt (on electric) costs about 2.2 cents per mile.

I see a lot of people making the error you just did. Charging a battery is not a 100% efficient process. In fact, the faster you want to charge a battery, the less efficient it is.

According to this site, the 240 V charger will send 32 Amps to the battery for 3 hours to charge it from a depleted state.
http://gm-volt.com/2010/06/17/volt-owners-will-be-...

240 V * 32 A * 3 h = 23 kWh. The Volt's battery pack is only supposed to have 8.8 kWh usable capacity, so this is a charging efficiency of 38%. In other words, your electricity price is going to be about 5.8 cents per mile, not 2.2. That puts the break-even mileage at 250,000 miles.

The 120 V charger is supposed to operate at 12 Amps, and take 8 hours. That's 11.5 kWh, for a much better 77% charging efficiency. See? Slower charging = better efficiency. That yields 2.9 cents per mile, and a break-even mileage of 185,000 miles.

The LEAF and probably the Tesla vehicles suffer from this deficiency in particular. Due to their longer range, they have larger capacity batteries. That means to get charging efficiencies >70%, they need charging times on the order of 20+ hours. Not practical for a vehicle driven daily. To get around this problem, someone needs to design a switching unit in these battery packs to let you draw power from the individual cells in series, but charge them in parallel. Unfortunately, charging in parallel means duplicating the charging circuitry for each individual cell, increasing the cost of the charger.


By namechamps on 8/12/2010 8:36:56 AM , Rating: 2
Really?

While charging a battery isn't 100% efficient it is closer to 95%-98% efficient. Sometimes what is quoted is charge/discharge efficiency however we are only interested in charge efficiency because discharge efficiency is already included in miles per kwh rating.

Just because the charger is 32A peak doesn't mean it pulls 32 AMPS continually.

I mean come on man. Battery charge non-linearly. They have a high current flow when at a low charge. As charge builds the current flow slows. Near the end of the charge the output of the charger is a tiny fraction of peak power.

32% efficient batteries? If the battery is 32% efficient that means roughly 70% is converted into heat. 15 kWh of heat (50,000 BTU). Really? Thats more than the peak output of furnances in many smaller homes.

Maybe the reason you keep seeing people make the "error" of not including a 32% battery efficiency is because no such battery that crappy exists.


By othercents on 8/12/2010 4:20:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The LEAF and probably the Tesla vehicles suffer from this deficiency in particular. Due to their longer range, they have larger capacity batteries. That means to get charging efficiencies >70%, they need charging times on the order of 20+ hours.


Buy two. Problem solved.


By 91TTZ on 8/11/2010 5:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
How is gas "too cheap"? It's going for the market rate.


By namechamps on 8/12/2010 8:38:11 AM , Rating: 2
Hardly. Gasoline is heavily subsidized.


By Spuke on 8/12/2010 11:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hardly. Gasoline is heavily subsidized.
Oil is a commodity. Where's the subsidy?


By theArchMichael on 8/11/2010 10:41:36 AM , Rating: 3
it's actually stated $40 in the article and for me it would be close BUT:

=> driving 15,000 miles a year
=>figuring the distribution, transmission charge, taxes, etc. which I estimate would end up being like $0.15 per KWh

I think that most people who can use a calculator would figure this to not be a good deal.
I think detroit edison is just trying put those devices so they can better manage their grid... but I'm not sure the customers should have to pay, especially if it isn't really necessary to charge the car.


By Kurz on 8/11/2010 10:53:24 AM , Rating: 1
You have two choices.
$40 a month for charging throughout the day.

Or the lower fee thats unspecified that is only for off peak charging.


By HotFoot on 8/11/2010 11:29:45 AM , Rating: 2
I'd generally rather go for off-peak charging at the lower rate, so long as I was in some kind of series-hybrid like the Volt. So long as I have the option for using fuel when the battery runs out, then I can be more flexible about charging schedules.

So, it seems that charging, at least for hybrids, hasn't been a big issue. Pure electrics, on the other hand, have a major charging problem, if you have the idea that you'd like the car to be usable whenever you'd like, for as far as you might drive. For me, the financials don't balance out. Something like the Volt could be good at about half its current price.


By knutjb on 8/11/2010 2:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So someone gets to pay $2,500 up front in order to pay "only" $30 a month. Really?
quote:
DTE Energy says that customers may be charged up to $2,500 for that. It's unclear
The possible "$2500" charge is because someone's house might not be up to snuff to handle the charger. To run new power lines and install a new panel in an old house is quite expensive. A more recent electrical system with 220 should be much less expensive particularly if the panel is in the garage.

I see this offer kind of like a drug dealer get a discount product on the market and once enough customers are connected the prices begin to rise with the complicity of regulatory boards. Cynical I know, but with so much power from coal...


By Spuke on 8/11/2010 3:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The possible "$2500" charge is because someone's house might not be up to snuff to handle the charger.
Reading that I'm almost positive that's what the charge is for. Out here in CA, it could be up to $5000. Looked it up once. Yuck.


By namechamps on 8/11/2010 4:02:42 PM , Rating: 2
Well I guess we will see more as it gets closer to real world rollout.

Still even if it is $0 up front and $40 per month for "unlimited" EV power someone above posted that residential rate (total) for MI is $0.125 per kWh.

Lets round up to $0.13. $40 per month / $0.13 per kWh = 307kWh.

You would need to pull >307kWh for that pricing to make sense. Use an average of 5 miles per kWh and that is 1538 miles per month to break even.

Say someone drives a LOT on their EV 2000 miles per month (given limited ranged and long recharge of an EV I think that is unlikely).

So by going $40 plan they get about $12 per month of "free" power. 2000 miles / 5 miles per kWh = 400 kWh * 0.13 =$52 for price of $40.

IF (and it is a big IF) it required $2500 up front to get $12 in free power that is a long time before anyone gets close to break even (over just buying power 1 kWh at a time).

Now maybe it is much cheaper for meter + install but it just seems like the EV unlimited power deal seems to be as good as the "unlimited" internet offered by cellphone providers.


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