Discussions about converting the American fleet of over 275 million vehicles to EVs keep accelerating as more car companies begin to offer EV models. In California, the enlightened leadership has dictated that no internal combustion vehicles will be sold in the state after 2034. Let us look at the practicality of this conversion.
This investigation began in conversation with a friend who knows the vehicle market as well as anyone. Not only is he one of my go-to guys regarding his in-depth knowledge of cars, but he operates a leasing/car acquisition company and has detailed knowledge of the vehicle market. The discussion was during the highest gas pricing phase in California. He stated he regularly gets calls from people wanting EVs. He advised clients that the additional cost of an EV – even at that moment when gas prices had hit their highest point – did not make economic sense. Overall, you will still pay more for the EV in total cost than with a gas-fueled vehicle, and that includes rebates. This was before the price of EVs escalated significantly because of the soaring cost of lithium and cobalt — essential to the building of EV batteries.
Is that all the costs for converting to an EV? I had some discussions with a general contractor and electrical contractor who work with these issues regularly.
I inquired what it would cost to retrofit my home for an EV. The electrical contractor said though not every home would have the same costs, this is what it would cost for my home. I would have to retrofit my electrical panel and that would run around $2,500. He cautioned not every home needs that. I would need to run a line for the EV to my garage costing from $850 to $2,000. The price of that would go up if both the Beautiful Wife and I were to get EVs.
The general contractor pointed out that Siemens, an international company, in coordination with an American company, ConnectDER, had developed a simplified EV connector. The device is a collar to your home electrical meter. The cost of the collar has not been announced yet. The reception of the power companies having a device connected to the meter which derives power for an EV has not been sorted out either. This device is supposed to cut the cost of adapting your electric panel from the current thousands of dollars. This may work for single-family detached homes, but it does not resolve the bigger problem – apartment buildings and condos.
This discussion came from a story the general contractor told me about consulting with the owner of an eleven-unit building who wanted to add eleven charging stations. The building original conceived as condos was being renovated to be sold off as condos after the renovation. The cost to put in charging stations for all the units was budgeted at $10,000. They had discussions with DWP (the Los Angeles power company). The DWP would not drop in a new service just for the EVs. DWP was requiring a new main distribution panel/electrical closet at a cost of over $100,000. The owner passed on putting in the charging stations.
Whereas a single family detached home may have enough room on their electrical panel to expand for an EV, an apartment or condo building is built without that level of flexibility. In a 50-unit building the panels are designed for the anticipated load of the existing units. The electrical contractor pointed out each vehicle would need a charging station and they would not be operated by credit card as they are in commercial areas.
The building would need to be rewired for the charging to be billed separately to each unit. The electrical contractor estimated the cost for retrofitting the building at between $400,000 and $500,000. Also, the entire electrical service in the building would have to be shut down for an unknown period.
The electrical contractor then conveyed that the power company (DWP in LA) must redo their lines to accommodate the load capacity of the new EV chargers. Since often there is a street with multiple apartment/condo buildings, the power company would need to completely re-engineer their delivery system to accommodate all these new EV charging stations. The electrical contractor would not begin to estimate the cost and inconvenience of that or how long it would take to redo the entire city.
The two contractors suggested the power company was in no way prepared to handle the huge demand that would be generated by the statewide dictate to convert to EVs. I set out to check with the DWP of Los Angeles. The community affairs spokesperson directed me to their annual glossy report. The most recent one spoke only of having 45,000 commercial charging stations by 2025 and 120,000 by 2030. This is in a city of four million people and an estimated two million residences.
I asked her the following, “How is DWP going to rewire for every apartment building, condo and single-family residence that will need to install EV chargers as dictated by the Governor? What would the costs of that be? That is what I am seeking. Also, how much additional energy draw would there be?” She said she would get back to me. When she did, she stated “The information from our Briefing Book is our answers to your questions.” My reply was “Otherwise you have no real plan to deal with millions of charging stations.”
Many people have seen a few charging stations added to commercial buildings. You may be thinking what is the big deal? Commercial building owners do not need to rewire their buildings because they only have a few stations. Those stations allow charging by credit card. The cost of the installation is not borne by the building owner. The owner typically passes those costs through to tenants as operating expenses under terms of their leases and recoups the full cost of those installations within a year. Once there are mainly EVs on the road, the home charging stations will function as the principal source of energy.
Apartment owners have no such means to recoup their extensive costs. In most cities in America (certainly in California), there is rent control. There are no discernible means to recoup the funds. They cannot increase rents. That will not stop the city councils of many cities to fall in line with this “Dreamsville” plan for EVs to dictate that building owners install these charging stations. Renters will, of course, say the “rich” apartment owners can afford to install the charging stations. It is not their money. And then there is the condo building where anyone who has lived in a condo knows the boards are designed to wreak havoc.
This is the end game of what happens when you elect people to run your state/city who have never run anything in their lives. They dictate idealistic plans while not thinking their way through to the end of the scenario. Gallivanting Gavin will be off running for president touting this as one of his accomplishments while leaving us with his unachievable, idealistic mess.
Let me leave you with this thought: If EVs are so good why do they have to be mandated? Why has the federal government had to commit billions of dollars and recommit more billions of dollars to subsidize their purchase?