The year was 1908, the world’s first mass-produced affordable automobile drove onto comically scarce streets. The transition from horse-driven carriages to gas-powered autos was officially beginning. After some back and forth, electric and steam-powered options didn’t make it into the mainstream. In hindsight, gasoline probably wasn’t the best option for the environment, but we’re (finally) working on fixing that now.
|A look at one of Tesla’s Supercharger stations (Source: Tesla)|
In a world replete with split ideology, there’s one thing the sane can agree on: this planet’s survival is obligatory. Whether pushed forward via regulation, individual companies, or growing public support, the transition to a sustainable future represents a critical step forward. Electric cars are becoming part of that transition.
Gaining traction for nearly a decade now, electric vehicles still only have minimal market penetration compared to the auto industry as a whole. That said, things are quickly changing. Tesla’s all-electric Model 3 recently became the best-selling car of any kind in Norway and the Netherlands. Tesla alone has nearly sold a million electric cars worldwide. Regardless of what Big Oil might tell you, EVs aren’t just another fidget spinner fad.
With an ever-growing number of electric cars on the road, charging infrastructure is growing at a steady click. Tesla’s proprietary charging network now sits at 1,604 stations with 14,081 charging points. Previously, when this number accounted for the vast majority of available chargers, doubters would say that EVs were just a gimmick touted by another overly-hyped Silicon Valley company. Now, Tesla is inspiring traditional automakers, from Detroit to Munich, to introduce EVs to their fleet of gas-powered trucks and cars.
Yes, Big Auto is (finally) showing interest in electric cars. Volkswagen is investing $91 billion towards electrification. Mercedes recently stated that it’ll cease engine development and focus on electric vehicles. Just about everyone is following suit — thanks, in large part, to the foresight of Elon Musk and execution of his team at Tesla.
|An EVgo charging station (Source: EVgo)|
In addition, EV charging companies like Ionity, ChargePoint, Blink, and others are investing in the future. EVgo, for instance, has over 750 charging stations in the US alone. Meanwhile, Electrify America is investing $2 billion in charging infrastructure over a 10 year period, with plans to establish 2,000 charge points in the US spread across 500 stations by the end of this year.
And Tesla is also pushing forward — a Supercharger station in California is providing users with a private lounge experience filled with comfortable seating, charging docks, and of course, coffee. And thanks to the forthcoming buildout of Supercharger V3 stations worldwide, expect to see more solar-powered stations (many are already in development).
Change is coming. As car buyers transition to a new electric lifestyle, so will the corresponding infrastructure. However, right now, charge points are often located in a handful of parking spaces — sometimes hidden at the back of a parking lot. Are they missing some of the convenience the public has come to expect from present-day gas stations?
Gas stations, themselves, are sensing the opportunity. Wawa started collaborating with Tesla to place its Superchargers across from its gas pumps. Even oil companies, like BP, Repsol, and Shell, are adding EV chargers to their gas stations. As it turns out, perhaps future gas stations won’t have to rely on gas at all.
This far-off future is already surfacing today. In Maryland, the first gas station to ditch oil just opened. Similar change is happening abroad. Circle K made the move in Norway — replacing all of its pumps with EV chargers at one of its gas stations.
|Above: A gas station that’s been completely converted into an electric vehicle charging station in Maryland (YouTube: Richard Hartnett)|
Yes, the transition to cleaner, greener vehicles is starting to materialize. Looking back, the big question in 1908 was — where can you feed these new horseless carriages? The answer today, with electric cars, is (often) right in your garage. But, for road trips, exciting new solutions for EVs are already emerging all over the globe.
An earlier version of this article appeared on EVBite. EVBite is an electric vehicle specific news site dedicated to keeping consumers up-to-date on any developments in the ever-expanding EV landscape.