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Trends in US Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Global advancements in sustainable energy, consumer sentiment, and imperatives put forward by governments will continue to drive adoption of electric vehicles.

But we still hear the concern, "Where is everyone going to charge them?"

It is true that electric vehicle charging stations are going to be key for the expansion of the electric vehicle market. Luckily, things are going well in this sector.

Before we look at the current state of charging infrastructure, let’s define the types of electric vehicles on the market.

What Is an Electric Car?

Battery-powered electric vehicles run on rechargeable batteries and do not have a gasoline engine. The most common type of battery used is a lithium-ion battery. Growth in the EV space is helping to fuel demand for lithium and “green lithium.”

These battery-powered EVs stand in contrast to the more common plug-in hybrid vehicles that can be powered by batteries but also have a gasoline engine. Both are usually considered electric vehicles (EVs).

A plug-in hybrid has a large battery pack that must be fully recharged using an external source of electricity. This can be done at home, of course. But public charging stations are essential for electric vehicles to fulfill their potential. (Imagine if a gas-powered vehicle could only be filled at home!)

Less common are cars like the Toyota Mirai, which is powered by hydrogen fuel cells. These cells convert hydrogen gas into electricity and produce zero emissions.

Some of the most popular electric vehicles in 2020 include:

     Hyundai Kona Electric

     Chevy Volt EV

     Honda Insight

     Toyota Corolla

     Hyundai Ioniq

     Honda Accord

     Audi e-Tron

     Tesla Model S and other Tesla models.

You can also find electric vehicle options in SUVs like the Honda CR-V, and the Toyota RAV4.

Charging Station Considerations

More than 80% of those that own plug-in electric cars charge their cars at home since it is the most convenient and inexpensive. The cost to run an electric car charged at home for a year is comparable to or less than running an average central air conditioner.

There are three levels of charging.

Level 1 charging is usually the residence. Most plug-in electric vehicles come with what is known as a portable Level 1 cord set or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). These require no types of special equipment to charge an EV at home. These work for overnight charging using a standard residential 120-volt outlet. This level of charging typically adds around 4 to 6 miles of charge per hour.

Level 2 charging is best for drivers with irregular schedules or long commutes. An electrician can install Level 2 charging equipment at a residence for between $500 and $2,000. Level 2 charging requires a 240-volt connection and usually adds 10 to 20 miles of range per hour, depending on the charging rate. Some states might have incentives to help offset the cost of the Level 2 installation.

Level 3 charging, also known as DC Fast Chargers or DCFC, is normally found only at public stations. Level 3 charging stations are the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle. Although all can use Level 1 and 2 charges, only some can use a Level 3 charger.

How many miles an electric car can travel depends on how long it is charged. The following are some mileage figures for the time an EV is charged, assuming the battery was empty when charged.

Charger

30 minutes

60 minutes

Level 1

3 miles

6 miles

Level 2

12 miles

25 miles

Level 3

124 miles

249 miles

Connector Types

Charging stations can have different connectors. The most common Level 1 and Level 2 connector is an SAE J1772 EV plug. All electric cars in the United States and Canada can be charged using this plug. Tesla cars have different connectors but come with an adaptor.

Level 3 chargers use the CHAdeMO and the SAE Combo connector. They are not interchangeable. An EV with a CHAdeMO port cannot be charged using an SAE Combo plug and vice versa.

For fast charging, the CHAdeMO and the SAE Combo are the most used connectors by electric car manufacturers. There is a third connector that Tesla uses. This connection is used on both Level 2 and Level 3 Supercharger Tesla charging stations. They are only compatible with a Tesla car.

Current Market

The worldwide electric vehicle charging station market is valued at $5.03 billion as of 2020, and this is expected to increase to $36.87 billion by 2026. Factors driving the growth of electric vehicles include government incentives to buy EVs, stricter emission and fuel laws, and the green movement. These increasing sales will also increase the demand for more charging stations.

Note that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed charging infrastructure projects. As we get past the pandemic, the market is expecting growth during the second half of 2021.

Current Trends

Charging stations are becoming more widespread. All regions of the United States are showing an increase in charging stations, with the northeast leading the way with a more than 10 percent increase.

California and other states are fast tracking their charging station capacity. As of 2020, There are 12 states with more than 10 charging stations per 10,000 Vehicles (29 have more than 5). Here are the top five:

State

Charging Stations

Vermont

35.7

Colorado

18.0

California

23.8

Utah

17.2

Massachusetts

15.9

Companies are also increasing their charging station capacity along with buying EVs for their fleet of cars. With annual sales of electric vehicles expected to pass 5 million by 2025, this trend should continue upward as more people buy electric cars.

Summary

Once there is more charging station infrastructure put in place and we get past the slowdown caused by the pandemic, the trend should continue upward, especially with commercial charging stations.

Most major car manufacturers now have electric vehicle models. As sales continue to increase, the demand for public charging stations will also increase.

Author of this Article: Toni Allen
Toni Allen is a contributor and editor at Commodity.com, a leading resource on commodities markets and trading.  She has over two decades of experience running online businesses with a focus on technical publications. She has contributed to well-known websites such as Digital.com, HTML.com, Sitepoint.com and many others. Toni enjoys sharing insights that help new investors save money and avoid common pitfalls. Originally from Michigan, USA she is now based on an island off the west coast of Canada.  In her spare time Toni enjoys spending time with her family and exploring the outdoors -- especially foraging for edible wild plants and mushrooms.