3 Years & $100 Million Later, And My EV Can’t Get To Monterey

Okay, this is a subjective rant. But it points to a larger failing in California’s electric vehicle infrastructure. This past Memorial Day weekend, I was set for a short vacation in Monterey, a significant regional destination about 70 miles from San Jose, south of the Bay Area.

I wanted to drive my Nissan LEAF, which gets about 80 miles range on flat elevation. From the East Bay where I live, it would require one fast-charge (80% battery recharge in about 20 minutes) just south of San Jose, which is about 60 miles from my home.

But in looking at the charging map, there are no fast chargers south of San Jose — unless you’re lucky enough to drive a Tesla of course, then you can charge in Gilroy. The fast chargers in San Jose would leave me with a white-knuckle drive to Monterey, given the elevation and distance.

Here’s a screenshot of the Plugshare.com map, with a Tesla fast charger in Gilroy but otherwise a no-man’s land of fast-chargers until you get to Carmel (about 10 miles further south of Monterey):

SJ map

Why haven’t EV charging companies fixed this missing link? This route is exactly the situation for a series of fast-chargers, given that you have a major regional destination about 70 miles from a densely populated urban area.

This is why California policy makers are now auditing eVgo, the company that benefited from a $100 million settlement back in 2012 to deploy a network of chargers around the state. I wrote about it recently, but the company’s progress has been dismal. EVgo has been focusing on money-making fast-charging sites in urban areas, rather than the Tesla approach of building a convenient network statewide to get people like me from a major urban area to a vacation destination.

I hope the audit and ensuing action means that critical corridors like the one to Monterey get the fast-chargers they need to encourage people to buy EVs.  Otherwise, even with range improvements, EVs will largely be doomed to commuter status for the foreseeable future, requiring people to buy gas cars for destination trips.


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