Where Do I Charge My Electric Vehicle?
For the past few years, automotive manufacturers have been ramping up their electric vehicle, or EV, production to meet evolving regulatory standards, corporate sustainability goals, and growing consumer preferences for environmentally-friendly vehicles. Globally, the electric car market grew 41 percent in 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, many automotive manufacturing firms have announced plans to wind down internal combustion engine manufacturing within the next two decades and focus solely on electric vehicles.
One factor that’s stood in the way of even faster growth? In the U.S. (as in many other nations), a lack of charging infrastructure uniformly dispersed throughout the country depresses EV market growth. There are fewer than 50,000 charging stations throughout the U.S., with most located in either California or the Northeast. For non-coastal U.S. consumers, especially those who routinely put substantial mileage on their car, relying on a home charging station and a patchwork of public ones is simply not an option. And even on the coasts, there are gaps in access in many areas. The lack of charging stations creates a chicken-and-egg problem: businesses and local governments are reluctant to invest in more charging stations if enough consumers aren’t using them to make them profitable. But consumers remain hesitant to purchase EVs when they aren’t confident they can easily charge them.
For mass consumer adoption, the automotive industry must ensure uniform and convenient access to charging stations everywhere they hope to sell EVs. Several private companies are working to scale up the nation’s charging infrastructure, either through charging stations they own and operate or those they lease to gas stations. But private investment alone is insufficient to support automakers’ future EV production plans. The governments of nations with the highest EV market penetration rates have helped pave the way through EV infrastructure funding and business and consumer incentives for EV purchases. The Biden administration has made the electrification of the U.S. fleet a cornerstone of his infrastructure proposal. This proposal includes an appropriation to fund the establishment of up to 500,000 charging stations across the country.
Given Washington DC’s partisan gridlock, what final amount is appropriated by Congress for this effort is anybody’s guess. However, even without substantial numbers of additional charging stations, it is possible for the government to achieve its environmental goals and most, if not all, automotive manufacturers to achieve their sustainability goals and regulatory mandates by encouraging the adoption of hybrid vehicles. Conventional hybrids (HEVs) offer better fuel economy and can charge while drivers drive. And plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) can be charged in advance and operate on battery power alone at the driver’s discretion.
Given that PHEVs can be operated indefinitely without the need for a charging station, they may be a better deal for non-coastal consumers, as well as help governments and auto manufacturers hit their emissions targets. As with everything, however, there are tradeoffs. First, to achieve the reduced level of emissions that PHEVs promise, drivers must charge their vehicles regularly rather than solely rely on gasoline. To make space for the electric components, PHEVs often sacrifice some cargo space. Further, PHEVs are more expensive than their conventional counterparts. However, there’s some evidence that PHEVs cost less to maintain and repair over their working life, which may make the higher upfront price easier to swallow.
Until all fifty states enjoy convenient access to charging stations, consumers may have a tough time committing to purchasing an EV. Existing owners may continue to experience significant logistical challenges traveling throughout the country. For now, PHEVs represent the best option for many consumers, as well as states and businesses looking to curb emissions. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your business’s environmental footprint, electrifying your fleet isn’t the only option. Upgrading your technology infrastructure in a manner that reduces your power consumption can help you achieve your corporate sustainability goals and save you money in the process. If you’re located in the Salinas, CA area, Alvarez Technology can help you identify sustainable technology solutions that meet your operational requirements and budget. Contact us today to get started.