How many electric car chargers are enough?

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Skepticism about electric vehicles — and there’s a lot of it — stems more from infrastructure concerns than EVs themselves. After all, EVs are more efficient, quieter, more elegant, and usually much faster than an otherwise identical fossil-fueled car. But the charging problem isn’t something EV advocates can dismiss as a simple nuisance.

While most EV owners charge their EVs overnight at home, as adoption increases, people without garages or parking spaces will buy EVs to charge, increasing the importance of widespread and reliable public chargers. According to a report by S&P Global Mobility, we will need more public chargers.

As regular readers no doubt know, there is a lot of investment going into charging infrastructure. In March 2021, US President Joe Biden set a goal of adding half a million new electric charging stations by 2030. In 2022, President Biden pursued a $5 billion plan to build at least four electric DC fast chargers along the interstate highway network. chargers every 50 miles.

The money will not be spent on a federally owned and operated charging network; instead, it will be paid to states to be spent by transportation departments. An additional $2.5 billion will be available through discretionary grants to build payment 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 public chargers from 80,000 to 170,000 by 2025, with a goal of 250,000 public chargers.

The auto industry is also completely ignoring the problem. Along with Tesla’s Supercharger network and Electrify America (backed by Volkswagen Group), Volvo plans to install fast chargers between Seattle and Denver; General Motors is in the process of adding 5,250 fast chargers nationwide by 2025 (plus another 40,000 level 2 (240 V) AC chargers); and last week, Mercedes-Benz announced that it will install more than 2,500 fast chargers nationwide by 2027.

According to S&P Global Mobility, the chargers will be in addition to those currently in operation, which include 126,500 level 2 chargers, 20,431 level 3 DC fast chargers and an additional 16,822 Tesla Superchargers. While previous assessments have shown the US is on track to meet its payments targets for 2030, S&P is less optimistic.

“With the transition comes the need to improve the public vehicle charging network, and today’s charging infrastructure is insufficient to support the sharp increase in the number of EVs in service,” said S&P Global Mobility analyst Ian McIlravey.

More than 2 million chargers

This is due to strong consumer interest in electric vehicles. New EV registrations were above 5 percent for most of 2022, and many more new models are expected to debut in the coming months. S&P says that EV market share is “likely to reach 40% by 2030,” which means more than 28 million EVs on US roads by then. (Other estimates are less rosy, but still predict more than 26 million EVs on US roads by 2030.)

This will require 2.13 million Level 2 chargers and 172,000 fast chargers by 2030.

The problem may be evident by 2030. S&P estimates that the US electric vehicle fleet could reach about 8 million by 2025, requiring at least 700,000 level 2 chargers and 70,000 level 3 chargers.

The report identifies three technologies that have the potential to ameliorate some of this problem. Wireless charging is one of them because it removes a pain point from the charging process. Battery replacement is another, though some standardization among automakers and a subscription model for packages is required. DC charging at home is third; these operate at lower kW levels than public fast chargers, but are 5-10 times faster than AC charging. Unfortunately, the cost of such wall boxes is currently prohibitive for many of us as they seem to cost 10-20 times more than an AC home charger.

“For mass market adoption of BEVs, charging infrastructure must do more than keep pace with EV sales,” said Graham Evans, director of research and analysis at S&P Global Mobility. “It should surprise and delight car owners new to electrification that the process seems seamless and perhaps even more convenient than their gasoline refueling experience, with minimal compromises in the car ownership experience. Advances in battery technology and how quickly. Electric vehicles can take power, for improvements here How quickly and abundantly the infrastructure can provide energy will be just as critical.”

Of course, simply installing chargers and hoping for the best won’t do. If companies really want EVs to go mainstream, uptime – both at the charger level and at the site level – needs to improve greatly from its current poor state.

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