The third quarter of 2021 has increased sales of electric vehicles (EVs), including plug-in hybrids, passing 1.5 million.
The number represents 10th of the global car sales and twice the last year’s sales. Most of these sales happened in China, where tiny and low-cost EVs are hip.
There are reasons why EV sales are skyrocketing—first, the governments’ regulatory push to phase out internal combustion engines by 2040 or sooner. Second, the price of batteries is getting cheaper, and the changing of preference of consumers as they get more environment-conscious.
But despite the growing success of EVs, there are challenges to be overcome. Foremost is the lack of EV-charging infrastructure.
The current number of EV public chargers at 1.3 million is not enough to meet the demands for the rapidly increasing EVs on the road. The International Energy Agency projects that 40 million public charging points are needed by the end of this decade, and to achieve this will require a $90 billion annual investment until 2030.
But meeting the net-zero goal is another matter and will require five times the number of public chargers that the IEA projects.
The Economist article, “A lack of chargers could stall the electric-vehicle revolution”, provides data and information that affect the rapid scaling up of EV charging infrastructure to meet demands.
These factors include the projections for future demands, plans of electric car and EV charger manufacturers to increase charging points across the globe, the cost of the battery, innovation in battery technology, government policies, and budget, and the industry’s structure in general plays a vital role in setting up an EV charging infrastructure that will meet future demands (A lack of chargers, 2021).
The lack of charging infrastructure also fuels the range anxiety of EV owners. The result of the recent survey by AlixPartners reflects this sentiment.
The survey asked drivers in seven countries that make up 85% of global EV sales to list their top five reasons not switching to electric vehicles. The top answer is the price of battery-electric vehicles (BEV), and four others were worries related to charging.
One of the advantages of owning a BEV is that these vehicles can be charged at home. But for those living in flats and who don’t have space for chargers and people making long inter-city trips, the demands for workplace charging, kerbside, destination charging stations, and public chargers with options for superfast charging are also growing.
Public chargers come in three types:
- kerbside, the most common, which refers to converted lampposts that EV or BEV can charge overnight, and
- ‘destination charging’ found in car parks, shopping centres, cinemas, and restaurants.
Both chargers fall into level 2 and are priced between two to 10 thousand per point.
- The third type is the “superchargers” and the most expensive of the three. It requires a $100,000 investment per charger but adds 100-300 km of range per 20 minutes.
Tesla provides its owners with a mapping software that incorporates these charging points into the route, especially on long journeys.
According to the AlixPartners article, another reason for the slow rollout of the charging infrastructure is the industry’s structure. It is hard to coordinate among the industry’s players, including the firms that make the chargers, the operators, the site-owners, and service providers. But as the charging industry insiders have pointed out, the charging industry and EV ownership are still in their infancy, so there is no reason for pessimism.
But as EV manufacturing giants, big car industries, and even utilities are cooking up plans to invest and expand charging points across the globe, governments will also act.
America’s new infrastructure law sets aside billions to install 500,000 public chargers by 2030. Even mandates from the British government requires new homes, workplaces, and retail sites to have charging points which can add 145,000 charging sites per year.
As these EV charging stations expand worldwide, there is also a need to ramp up investments to update electricity grids to redistribute power where it is needed.
Putting together all the efforts from car manufacturers and the government to expand the charging infrastructure, the BCG forecasts that it will only install 6.5 million public chargers in America, Europe, and China by 2030, which falls short of the 40 million global chargers that the IEA projects.
A lack of chargers could stall the electric-vehicle revolution. (2021 December 11). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/business/a-lack-of-chargers-could-stall-the-electric-vehicle-revolution/21806663?
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