Today, more than 160k gas stations are distributed around the US. But besides heavy subsidies, the EV charging infrastructure lacks behind with ~11k public charging stations. Many global experts still blame the low EV adaptation on, at least partially, missing charging infrastructure.
While buyers of today’s cars rely on a broad infrastructure of gas stations, the usage patterns of EV drivers are different. ~96% EV drivers charge at home and at work. Only 4% of charging thus happens outside of home/work. Also, most of these remaining charges were not necessary in order to reach home or work to charge.
After 3 months I realized that I haven’t been to a gas station since buying my Roadster
Although most charging happens at home, less than 10% of EV owners claim to only charge at home. A subsample even relies on outside-of-home-charging. 20% of EV owners are responsible for ¾ of away-from-home-charging. This means that some EV buyers already rely on out of home charging. Like anybody else, I don't expect this subset to enjoy waiting times…
Customers are dependent on charging at home or at work because ~90% of US charging stations are level 2 slow chargers. A Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt needs around 4 hours for a full charge on level 2 stations; which is why Blink’s level 2 chargers are only used 1.4 times per week. Their DC fast chargers on the other hand average 20 charges per week with the average customer charging for 19.8 minutes. More so, the usage of Tesla supercharging stations is sometimes so high that customers wait in line for a charge. Fast charging capabilities enable customers who are dependent on out-of-home charging to drive EVs. Still, slow chargers dominate the landscape.
19.8 minutes of charging leaves enough time for customers to use hygiene rooms, buy cups of coffee and check their smartphones before continuing the journey. This is the typical charging time we should also expect in future. EV adaptation won’t be stimulated by an increased infrastructure of charging stations but rather by installing faster chargers.
Not every charger should be fast. It would not only cause lifetime issues for batteries but the investment would be unnecessary. As cars are on average unused for 88% of their lifetime, customers have over 20 hours to charge them on a typical day. Thus slow charging is feasible at home, work and locations where people naturally spend multiple hours.
96% of charging happens at home or work
A subset of customers (20%) makes up for 75% of out-of-home charging
DC fast charging is frequently used while public level 2 stations are avoided
Customers are willing to charge for ~20 minutes outside of home or work
Cars are parked for ~88% of their life which allows for slow charging most of the time
EV adaption will not be improved by having charging stations at every corner. Improving charging speeds and placing charging stations where people naturally take brakes or where users do not have garages will increase adaptation. Again, more charging stations alone will not increase EV adaptation. Well-placed DC fast chargers in cities and highways could be the solution.
Sini Ninkovic analyzes the EV market and its customers since 2012. He helped bringing BMW's i3 and i8 to market and currently works as Product Planner for Lucid Motors.