The Math of Plugging In

“Our aim is for new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be phased out in Scotland by 2032—eight years ahead of the target set by the UK Government.”

The very day in early September that Nissan revealed the LEAF in both Tokyo and Las Vegas, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, said, "I am announcing today an ambitious new target. Our aim is for new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be phased out in Scotland by 2032 -- the end of the period covered by our new Climate Change Plan and eight years ahead of the target set by the UK Government.”

The snub to London notwithstanding, the Scottish plan is in keeping what seems to be something of an “everybody into the pool” phenomenon, as countries and cities alike—even Stuttgart, which probably has Rudolf Diesel rolling in his grave—are making plans to ban diesel and gasoline for purposes of providing a purported cleaner environment.

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While this may be all well and good from the perspective of not having noxious gases coming out of tailpipes, there is the non-trivial issue of where does the energy come from to generate the electricity that will be needed to power the vehicles.

But we’ll let that one go.

There is a problem that doesn’t seem to be taken into account, which is how will people be able to charge their cars in a reasonable about of time.

The new LEAF requires charging times of 16 hours for a 3-kW charger or eight hours for a 6-kW charger. There is something called a “quick charge,” which provides an 80 percent charge in 40 minutes.

The range for the LEAF is 150 miles. (Which means that in order to get from the capital of Scotland, to London in order to throw shade on British prime minster Theresa May (“We may be smaller, but that only means we’re faster with the combustion ban. Ha!”), Nicola Sturgeon would have to stop a couple of times in order to charge up a new LEAF, as the driving distance is approximately 400 miles between the two capitals.)

According to the BBC, there were 220,906 cars registered in Scotland in 2016.

So, let’s assume that there is a stable number of vehicles there between now and 2032 and that in 15 years all chargers are at least 6 kW.

If it takes eight hours per car, this means that for every one of those 220,906 cars to be charged it would take 1,767,248 hours. That’s one charge. That is 73,636 days, or 201 years.

That’s Scotland.

Consider this: In California, there are 25,244,537 registered cars. In hours to charge at eight hours each: 201,956,296 hours.

Doesn’t “productive use of time” mean anything anymore?

Of course, by 2032 charging times should be reduced and battery ranges longer. But still, there is a considerable amount of work that must be done—not only as regards battery and motor technology, but in the build-out of infrastructure—in the next 15 and more years in order to achieve reasonable electric automobility.