Facing the EV Tipping Point
Accelerated EV Adoption Demands Accelerated Infrastructures
In the last six months, more than five percent of all new car sales in the United States have been electric vehicles (EVs). If the United States follows the pattern of other countries, five percent is the tipping point where mass adoption of electric cars occurs, and we start to see the stress on the charging infrastructure.
More EVs are indeed coming. Just look around the country at some of the significant investments that automakers are making. EVs are making an increasing proportion of automakers’ lineups, with most of the major auto manufacturers committing to go fully electric in the next 15 years, such as Volkswagen, Audi, and Land Rover/Jaguar. Using some basic math comparing the rate of EV adoption against the speed of EV charging infrastructure growth, we find that demand outstripping the supply of charging in the not-too-distant future.
This tipping point could become a tidal wave in a few short years. To meet the demand of this EV wave, we have much work to be done.
EV Charging Infrastructure in America
In a recent article, McKinsey estimates that 30 million charging stations will be needed in the United States to reach national emission targets by 2030. While over 28 million will be in residences, 1.2 million public charging facilities will be required at an estimated cost of $35 billion. This increase is 20 times more EV charging stations than exist today!
For EVs to become a practical solution for all, these charging stations need to be economically viable, connected to a robust grid that can support simultaneous fast charging, and be maintained and always online. Confidence in the charging infrastructure should be as strong as drivers’ confidence in the traditional refueling infrastructure.
Support from government agencies, states, local municipalities, and private businesses must align to build a nationwide infrastructure of public EV charging stations. Each will have a crucial role in the buildup of America’s EV charging network. Government agencies will not be able to build, own, and operate all charging stations. Profitable and sustainable opportunities for charging businesses will need to be cultivated, and multiple revenue models tested to create sustainability. Jurisdictions can help by streamlining the permitting process so new charging stations can be up and running much faster.
For a future where emission targets are reached and we have a robust charging infrastructure that can meet the demand and expectations of consumers, a substantial number of public charging stations will need to be deployed and operated quickly. As the McKinsey report illustrates, we cannot rely on the government for this. We must incentivize the private sector and demonstrate the value add of EV charging. The reality is that while having an expensive upfront investment in the construction, EV charging offers the potential to turn parking lots and other available spaces into revenue-generating assets. If done right, with an intelligent installation that considers consumer preferences and technological evolutions, EV charging can be built in a way that makes it last and easy to update as needed.