Which Comes First, The EV Or The Charger?

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You hear it all the time — if there were more EV fast chargers, there would be more EVs. The proof is Tesla. Its Supercharger network is frequently credited with helping the company become the world’s leading manufacturer of electric cars. If other companies want to compete with Tesla, they have to create a similar charging network, don’t they?

EV charger

Maybe not. A new analysis by Transportation & Environment finds that in the UK and Europe, 95% of all EV charging events occur at home or work. Only 5% take place along highways. In fact, says T&E, when it comes to what is delaying the electric car revolution, “it is a lack of choice and availability of electric cars that is the principal barrier.”

Greg Archer, director for clean vehicles Director at T&E says, “Carmakers are creating a smokescreen claiming there is insufficient recharging points in major markets. The truth is the chicken or the egg problem is fixed in northern and western Europe, where three in four new EVs are sold. The primary bottleneck in increasing sales of electric cars is the lack of cars to plug-in.

“There is time and funds available to build the recharging and grid infrastructure that will be needed as the market for electric cars expands. The question is whether car makers will be pushed to supply electric cars through ambitious CO2 reduction targets for new cars in 2025 and 2030.”

If charging infrastructure has any strong influence on people’s decision to buy an electric car, it is what is sometimes known as the “neighborhood effect.” Just seeing them while driving helps drivers of conventional cars realize they have an alternative. Public chargers are also an important factor for people who live in apartment buildings or condominiums where they cannot install charging equipment of their own.

T&E points to Norway, which has the highest percentage of new EV sales in Europe. In 2014, 10% of all charging events took place at public chargers. By 2017, that number had dropped to just 2%. T&E suggests the fact that newer electric cars have larger batteries and longer range may explain the decreased use of fast chargers.

If Transport & Environment is correct, the hoopla about a lack of charging infrastructure is just another way for legacy automakers to avoid producing electric cars until they are absolutely forced to do so. ChargePoint says it will install 2.5 million chargers over the next 7 years, so car makers? Just do what you do best — build  electric automobiles — and let others worry about creating the charging infrastructure needed to complete the electric car revolution.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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