I want you to imagine the following scene: you are starting your cross-country road trip across the United States in your new electric car. You’re a few hundred miles away from home and your battery is running out. How are you going to finish this road trip? Today I wanted to talk about the infrastructure that we have and the infrastructure that we need in order to support the rising number of electric vehicles on our roads. As of February 2021, the United States is closing in on having 100,000 charging stations available. However, not all states are equally EV friendly, as California has about 32,000 stations, a third of the nation’s charging stations. The first bump in the road of our cross-country trip. However, we can still avoid this pothole. On the plus side, there are charging stations in each state. Some states, like Mississippi and North Dakota may be harder to travel through with only 19 charging stations per state, but with enough planning, it is possible.
Speaking of planning, next we turn our attention to the plans for EV charging stations in the US. President Biden has proposed a $174 million investment into the EV marketplace, including a goal to increase the number of EV charging stations to 500,000 by 2030. Additionally, this plan proposes tax incentives and rebates for consumers choosing to purchase not only electric vehicles but American made electric vehicles, thus helping throw the weight of American auto titans such as Ford and GE farther into the mix. What personally excites me about this is that I don’t think that the extent to which this proposal will be a boon to the charging station infrastructure has a ceiling of 500,000 stations.
I believe that making EVs more affordable to consumers will increase their market share, compounded by increased education about climate change. This will subsequently create a larger market demand for EV charging stations. To continue our road trip algorithm, it’s been a long day of driving and you’re pulling into town. Your battery is almost drained, and you have a choice between two motels for the night. One offers an EV charging station as you rest for the night and the second does not. Which motel do you choose? The point I am making here is that with the rise of EV prominence we will see that charging stations will become a supplemental good to other services/places of business. Another example of this would be grocery stores. If one store has a EV charging station working for you while you shop and the other does not, the store with the station will now have a competitive advantage.
In all the examples above I talked about a situation where charging your EV happened concurrently to something else. But what if it is mid-day, you have 200 miles to go before you reach your destination and you need a charge? Nothing is stopping you from stopping and charging your car, but how long will that take? Unfortunately, there is no general answer to this question as charge times will depend on three elements. The first is the power source. EV charging stations can either be Level 3 or Level 2 chargers. The TLDR of this is that a higher-level charger will have a higher level of direct current voltage which will charge your car faster. The second element in the equation is your car’s capacity to accept a charge. Each EV has a charger that converts the incoming direct current into alternating current that safely charges the battery. The higher capacity of the onboard charger, the faster your car will charge. The final element to charging time is the state of charge of your battery. That is what percentage of battery you have left. Between 20%-80% charge your battery will charge faster than at low or high percentages. This is a purposeful feature of the charging process as it helps protect the battery, ensures a long battery life, and protects it from over charging.
If you are planning a cross country electric road trip, leave a comment below about how you plan to tackle these speed bumps.