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How many electric car chargers are enough?

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Directly above view taken with a drone of a charging station for electric and hybrid cars using solar panels to generate electricity to charge the battery of cars while they are parked in the city

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Skepticism about electric vehicles – and there is a lot of it – is actually more about the infrastructure than the electric vehicles themselves. After all, electric vehicles are more efficient, quieter, more refined, and generally much faster than an otherwise identical fossil-powered vehicle. But the charging issue isn’t something EV advocates can dismiss as a mere inconvenience.

While it is true that most EV owners charge their EVs overnight at home, as adoption increases, EVs will be purchased by people without garages or cars to charge, increasing the importance of widespread and reliable public chargers. And we’ll need many more public chargers, according to a report from S&P Global Mobility.

As regular readers will no doubt know, a lot of investment goes into charging infrastructure. In March 2021, US President Joe Biden set a goal to add half a million new electric vehicle charging stations by 2030. In 2022, President Biden followed by a $5 billion plan to build DC fast chargers along the Interstate Highway System, with at least four chargers every 50 miles.

The money will not be spent on a federally owned and operated charging network; instead, it will be paid to the States be spent by their transport ministries. An additional $2.5 billion will be made available through discretionary grants to build charging infrastructure in rural and underserved areas.

Some states are also acting on their own. In December 2022, California said it would spend $2.9 billion to double the number of publicly available chargers from 80,000 to 170,000, with a goal of 250,000 public chargers by 2025.

The automotive industry is not unaware of the problem either. In addition to Tesla’s Supercharger network and Electrify America (which is backed by the Volkswagen Group), Volvo plans to install fast chargers between Seattle and Denver; General Motors is in the process of adding 5,250 fast chargers across the country by 2025 (plus 40,000 other Level 2 AC chargers (240V)); and last week, Mercedes-Benz revealed that it was installing more than 2,500 fast chargers nationwide by 2027.

The chargers will be added to those currently in service, which include 126,500 level 2 loaders20,431 Level 3 DC fast chargersand 16,822 more Tesla Superchargers, according to S&P Global Mobility. While previous evaluations found the United States on track to meet Its load targets for 2030, S&P is less optimistic.

“With the transition, there is a need to evolve the public vehicle charging network, and the current charging infrastructure is insufficient to support a drastic increase in the number of electric vehicles in service,” said Ian McIlravey, analyst at S&P GlobalMobility.

More than 2 million chargers

It’s at the strong consumer interest in EVs. Registrations of new electric vehicles were above 5% for most of 2022, and many other new models are expected to debut in the coming months. S&P says the EV market share will “likely reach 40% by 2030,” which would mean more than 28 million EVs on US roads by then. (Other estimates are not so pink but still predict more than 26 million electric vehicles on US roads by 2030.)

And that will require 2.13 million Level 2 chargers and 172,000 Level 3 fast chargers by 2030, on top of all S&P home charging plans.

The problem may be evident well before 2030. S&P estimates the U.S. EV fleet could grow to nearly 8 million by 2025, requiring at least 700,000 Level 2 charges and 70,000 Level 3 chargers.

The report identifies three technologies that could ameliorate some of this problem. Wireless charging is one of them, as it removes a pain point from the charging process. Battery swapping is another, but one that will require some degree of standardization between automakers and a subscription model for packs. Home DC charging is the third; These operate at lower kW levels than public fast chargers, but are still between 5 and 10 times faster than AC charging. Unfortunately, the cost of these wallboxes is currently prohibited for most of us. because they seem to cost 10 to 20 times more as an AC home charger.

“For mass market acceptance of BEVs to take hold, charging infrastructure must do more than keep pace with EV sales,” said Graham Evans, director of research and analytics at S&P GlobalMobility. It should surprise and delight vehicle owners who will be new to electrification, so that the process feels seamless and perhaps even more convenient than their experience with refueling, with minimal compromise to the ownership experience. of the vehicle. can receive electricity, and that will be as critical to improvements here as the speed and abundance of infrastructure to provide electricity. »

Of course, it’s not enough to install chargers and hope for the best. Availability – at shipper level as well as at site level – needs to be improved far beyond its current poor state whether companies want electric vehicles to really go mainstream.

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