Build It and They Will Come: The BEV Infrastructure Crutch
The advent of the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and its slow but steady infiltration into the mainstream automotive marketplace is making headlines not only because of natural market forces but also, the new White House Administration has put a stake in the ground. In a statement released on April 22, 2021, the Administration announced plans to deploy and accelerate the adoption of BEVs and the installation of chargers. The $174 billion in funding would come from the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy and the General Services Administration.
According to a study by Deloitte, “As BEV and PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle) sales surpassed two million vehicles in 2019 (see figure 1), EVs staked their claim on a 2.5 per cent share of all new car sales last year.” A June 15th, 2021 article in Government Technology cites, ‘one in fifty new cars sold is an EV.’ However, a study conducted by YouGovAmerica estimates that 1 in 5 Americans looking to buy a new car would consider an electric car – an estimate that highlights the potential for growth. The study goes on to pose the question: if 1 in 5 Americans would consider an EV, what is stopping them from buying? And, tying for the number two spot is hassle of charging.
So, what does the current EV charging infrastructure look like? A quick search on the U.S. Department of Energy’s ‘Alternative Fuels Data Center’ shows there are 42,760 charging stations in the US. The same search displays a visual representation of these stations revealing that much of the upper Mid-West and Central and Southern rural areas have sparse coverage.
The charging stations include both Level 2 chargers and DC chargers. Level 2 chargers are the most common types of chargers and can be found in homes, workplaces and in public and can achieve anywhere between 20-60 miles of range from an hour of charging. DC chargers are purpose-built stations offering fast charging achieving between 60-250 miles of range from half an hour which makes them much more ideal for trips that exceed the natural range of an EV. Because only 5,173 of the 42,670 charging stations have DC chargers, it becomes clear that making longer trips with an EV could be problematic.
BEVs may not be the ideal choice for drivers who may want to use their cars to make longer journeys, but the majority of the trips we take in the US involve short commutes. A June 4th, 2021 article from Vox quotes a statistic from the Federal Highway Administration revealing almost 77% of vehicle trips are ten miles or less. Given the BEV range easily accommodates the most common use cases, it is easy to see how much potential there is. At home charging is the easiest and cheapest and arguably the most important part of a BEV infrastructure.
The automotive market is changing and changing fast. The White House’s American Jobs Plan includes a $15B fund to build a national network of charging stations to 500,000 by partnering with state and local government as well as the private sector, it will “support a transformational acceleration in deployment of a mix of chargers in apartment buildings, in public parking, throughout communities, and as a robust fast charging along our nation’s roadways.”
The federal government’s support is important, but Congress must agree. And, it is likely that through sheer force of the market, the demand for EVs will justify private sector investment in infrastructure. The proliferation of companies like Blink and EVO – charging station solution providers – is a good sign. Easy, reliable and accessible DC fast charging is essential for consumers to be confident in replacing their gas cars with BEVs.
Mack Hogan wrote a humorous and colorful article dated April 23, 2021 for Road and Track about test driving a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. In it, he praises the EV using phrases like “exciting, fast to drive”, “brain-scattering acceleration”, “silent motoring” and “cheap at-home charging” all while lamenting the public charging infrastructure. Yet he ends confidently by saying that despite the kinks, “Make no mistake that this is the future.”
John Wuich, Donlen’s Vice President of Strategic Consulting Services, says, “The rEVolution is underway, and there is no stopping it. Donlen is here to help by assessing the EV readiness of your fleet and guiding you through the electrification process, ensuring your sustainability goals and timeline are met. What an exciting time to be in fleet and a part of this transformation!
We can help you prepare for this future and make it a reality. Contact us today.