Consumers, most of whom are still fairly unfamiliar with electric vehicles, have certain anxieties about them. One, so-called “range anxiety,” is the worry that batteries won’t carry them as far as they want to travel (or might want to travel — one never knows). The other is the hassle of plugging in the car every night. For people in apartments or condos, there may not be outlets. And even for people with garages, it’s still kind of a pain in the ass. Pumping gas at gas stations is a pain, too, but at least it’s only once every week or two.
Alex Gruzen, the CEO of the wireless charging tech company WiTricity, told me one automaker has done an internal survey of its plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) owners and discovered that 70 percent of them never plug in. They use the vehicles as ordinary hybrids, sacrificing an enormous amount of fuel economy (which they paid extra for!) just because nightly plugging in is a hassle.