There are currently about 150,000 gas stations in the U.S. for gasoline-powered vehicles. In the U.S., the number of all-electric vehicles (EVs) is rapidly increasing, and new vehicle sales will rise from only about 10,000 units a year in 2012 to 400,000 units in 2021. However, there are only 6,000 DC charging stations that can charge battery-powered vehicles quickly.
If you look at a map of charging stations in the United States, you can immediately see that there are many “charging desert areas”. But it’s not particularly funny, as electric vehicles (EVs) account for less than 3% of new car sales. While the number of fast chargers is increasing in large cities, it is not enough to cope with the massive influx of EVs. Outside of urban areas, these chargers are located along interstate highways, allowing electric vehicles to travel safely. However, chargers are rarely installed outside of urban areas. EV stations have problems that gas stations do not have. “Even Tesla’s supercharger, which boasts the highest charging speed, takes 15 minutes to charge hundreds of miles.” That’s what Professor Jeremy Michalek says who heads the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University.
As the country as a whole transitions to electric vehicles, the development of charging infrastructure has yet to catch up, he said. There is also a bright side. Not everyone is going to move to EVs all at once, so there’s still time to deal with it. Most of the early EV owners were ready to use chargers in their garages and parking lots. These people wake up in the morning and their cars are fully charged, and they can only use public chargers if they want to leave the city and go out. However, as the introduction of EVs progresses, the existing infrastructure alone will not be enough to keep up. That’s why Micharek says priority should be given to increasing the number of chargers in rest areas on high-traffic highways. Especially now that the use of EVs is increasing for summer vacation travel, he said.
“As EV adoption progresses, if we don’t have enough chargers to meet peak demand, we’re going to have latency that we don’t see at gas stations.”
More Americans are considering switching to Electric Vehicles
An increasing number of Americans are considering the introduction of EVs, and the “charging blind spot” problem is expected to become more serious. For those living in rental housing, installing a home charger is not an option. So until you have confidence that you can use public charging stations when you need them, you won’t be able to switch completely to electric vehicles. As the number of households that only have EVs increases, it will become very important to be able to go to all the places (places you want to go).
President Biden has set a goal of installing 500,000 chargers (not the number of stations, but the number of chargers) across the country, but the infrastructure bill passed in November 2021 allocated $7.5 billion to the target. In the best-case scenario, Professor Micharek envisions a solid nationwide charging network built through public-private cooperation. The Biden administration has promised to install chargers everywhere outside of urban areas. But for those who have installed charging stations across the country, the incentive to install them in big cities and heavily trafficked roads is greater. After all, companies like Electrify America, EVgo, and ChargePoint charge kilowatt-hours for user activity.
The majority of new EVs will travel at least 250 miles (or around 402 kilometers) on full charge, and that distance will continue to grow. The longer the distance they can travel without charging, the fewer drivers will be waiting impatiently for charging stations to be available. “But don’t get me wrong,” he said. The “country of electric vehicles” needs a large number of chargers.