Thursday, June 14, 2012

Welcome to the Dead Zone

dead zone
Pronunciation: /ded zōn/

1. Ecology. an area in a body of water, especially an ocean,  having oxygen levels that are not adequate to support life: e.g., shellfish threatened by an annual dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
2. an area where a mobile phone does not receive a signal
With this being a blog about the 100% Electric BMW ActiveE, odds are you’re wondering why I’ve started this post with a definition of oceanic and mobile phone dead zones.  Perhaps he’s lost his mind or forgotten which blog he’s posting in, you might be thinking.  Contrary to what others might tell you, nope, I still have all my faculties.  Assuming that’s the case, then why a dead zone definition?  Because I’d like to add a third option to this definition.

3. A geographical area, typically a less densely populated area, having no or few publically available EVSE that are not adequate to support appreciable travel outside 50% of the EVs range from the owner’s home (if this ever ends up in Webster's, I expect at least a footnote giving me credit).
Much like definition #2 has over the past decade, this should slowly get better with time.  EVSE infrastructure is increasing as we speak, but unfortunately for me (fortunately for those that live in SoCal or NNJR/NYC), most of the public EVSE installs are occurring in these and other metropolitan areas.  Clearly this makes sense, install the infrastructure where the need is.  This gives the EV drivers that live in these metropolitan areas the ability to venture outside their normal ‘range’, i.e., distances further from home than half the vehicles range.  In fact, in some areas there’s enough charging infrastructure that a Nissan Leaf owner is currently attempting to drive from Mexico to Canada.
Two Chargepoint EVSEs within range of my house
Here in Eastern Connecticut, however, there’s a dead zone.  To put it in perspective, there isn’t a single public EVSE within range of my ActiveE (other than the one at Cardi’s in West Warwick, RI – two big thumbs up to the folks at Cardi's) that is useful for my driving habits.  Sure, Norwich Public Utilities just installed four of them, but alas, they are too close to me to be of any use.  Further from home we have the EVSE at New Country BMW in Hartford where I got my ActiveE, but that location is generally only useful for when I have it in for service. 

I'm not complaining, however, just stating the facts.  I understood the situation when I signed up for the ActiveE - these are the early days and EV adoption and infrastructure installation will be slow.  Plus I knew the situation before deciding to participate in Phase 2 of Project i.  As a result, the lack of Eastern CT infrastructure hasn’t really impacted me.  I fully expected that unlike many of my fellow Electronauts, I would have to rely solely on charging at home – and so far it has worked out fine.
As we move into the future, this will be less and less of an issue.  More EVs will be sold, so more EVSEs will be installed at businesses, rest stops, and friends houses to accommodate the increasing numbers.  When that happens my EVs range will increase exponentially, and more and more people will be willing to consider an EV.
Until then, "can you hear me now?"


  1. Do you have anyone sharing their home EVSE on I am not brave enough to share my home EVSE, but I live in an area with access to public EVSE's. it could provide another avenue to charging where the public infrastructure is weak.

  2. Sadly none of those either - the only Plugshares that aren't 120v that are in the area are the local Nissan dealer, and a Chevy dealer 18 miles away. Just not many EVs around, and those that are don't seem to put their EVSE on plugshare. Can't really blame them, mines not on there either. Happy to share it with folks on the ActiveE Facebook page or the Activatethefuture forum, just not sure I'm ready to have just anyone showing up in my driveway...