Next Gold Rush: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

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Originally posted EVANNEX.

Tesla was ahead of its time when it bet on a proprietary Supercharger network. Now, public EV charging infrastructure is popping up all over the globe. Even McDonald’s is getting in on the action. Gas stations are starting to see the writing on the wall. A few are even converting gas pumps to EV chargers.

Tesla Model 3 and Fiat 500e charging at ChargePoint station in front of Whole Foods. Whole Foods is investing in EV charging options near some of its stores. Photo by Zach Shahan | CleanTechnica.

But in Marketwatch, Tesla Model 3 owner Vitaly Katsenelson argues that gas stations aren’t really the right location for EV chargers, as it takes longer to “fill up” a battery. Besides, most just charge at home. But home charging won’t be enough — longer road trips will require new charging infrastructure to provide added convenience for EV drivers.

Katsenelson writes, “My prediction: At some point there will be a charging-station mini-bubble as companies raise capital and do a land grab. Grocery stores will use charging stations to attract customers. Charging stations will be in all parking lots, from restaurants to office buildings. Electric vehicle (EV) charging will be a gold rush, while gas stations will be just another relic of a bygone age, like phone booths and cassette tapes.”

Forwarding-looking companies like IKEA are installing EV charging points outside their stores. (YouTube: KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas)

It’s worth comparing this transition to what happened more than a century ago, when gas-powered cars replaced horses. Katsenelson says, “At first, people wondered how they would ‘feed’ those cars (grass was more plentiful than gasoline), whether they would have decent roads to actually drive anywhere, and whether cars would be crashing into pedestrians and each other. The shift from horses to cars required a completely new paradigm.”

Tesla Model 3 charging at Earthfare in Florida. Earthfare is investing in EV charging near some of its stores. Photo by Zach Shahan | CleanTechnica.

“The domain of horses came with an ecosystem that was simply not applicable when we switched to cars. Even though both performed the same function — horses got people and goods from point A to point B — the automobile was fundamentally different, and so was its ecosystem,” notes Katsenelson.

BMW i3s Charging North Carolina Cynthia Shahan | CleanTechnica
Two BMW i3s charging in front of Ingles grocery store in North Carolina. Ingles has level 2 charging stations at some of its stores. Photo by Cynthia Shahan | CleanTechnica.

So what does all this mean for the future of gas stations? Katsenelson concludes, “I imagine the 110,000 U.S. gas stations that keep ICE cars humming along today will look like a rounding error next to the millions of electric ‘filling stations’ that one day will be located in home garages and public parking lots.”

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Matt Pressman

Matt is all about Tesla. He’s a TSLA investor, and he loves driving the family's Model 3, Model S, and Model X company cars. As co-founder of EVANNEX, a family business specializing in aftermarket Tesla accessories, he’s served as a contributor/editor of Electric Vehicle University (EVU) and the Owning Model S and Getting Ready for Model 3 books. He writes daily about Tesla and you can follow his work on the EVANNEX blog.

Matt Pressman has 332 posts and counting. See all posts by Matt Pressman