When Electrify America got its final count of EV charging sessions for 2021, the difference from 2020 was shocking. During calendar year 2020, EV drivers plugged in at an Electrify America station about 268,000 times. Those of us who have been following the EV transition since the early days probably think of that as a huge number (I mean, hey, it’s a whole hell of a lot more than zero, right?). What’s even bigger? The jump that came from one year to the next, when Electrify America logged 1.45 million charging sessions, more than a 5-fold increase.
“The combination of our rapidly expanding charging network, plus the growth and availability of all-new electric vehicles, is accelerating the transition to eMobility,” said Robert Barrosa, senior director of Business Development & Marketing of Electric America. “Electrify America is working with automotive manufacturers to smooth the transition from gas to electric by offering integrated access on the Electrify America network. We are seeing this positively impact vehicle adoption as first quarter battery electric vehicle sales reached a record 5.2% market share of new vehicle sales in the US.”
Before anybody says it, yes, we can’t attribute that whopping difference from 2020 to 2021 all to growth of the EV driving population. Why? Because 2020 was when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the United States and wreaked so much havoc. The amount of driving done by California drivers in particular took a big hit, and that’s where a big chunk of the growth of the EV market has happened. So, Coronavirus would have an outsized impact on EV drivers compared to measures of gas and diesel driving, like fuel sales or emissions/pollution data.
At the same time, though, I don’t think it’s reasonable to attribute the whole difference, or even most of it, to the pandemic. There was still a big difference in EV adoption as more manufacturers started selling decent electric vehicles and stopped messing around with compliance cars. For 2021, vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E, Rivian R1T, and Volkswagen ID.4 all hit the market. Also, adapters for CCS1 and CHAdeMO stations allowed more Tesla vehicles (which have hit their own amazing growth stride with the Model 3 and Model Y) to charge at Electrify America stations. All of this has to add up to a big increase regardless of the pandemic.
The sheer number of charging sessions is impressive by itself, but Electrify America gave us some other numbers that are also very impressive.
For one, they estimate that all of these charging sessions meant that 5.7 million gallons of gasoline didn’t get burnt. We didn’t get specifics on how they calculated this, but it’s a number that passes the reasonability test. Every EV and ever driver uses a different amount of battery power for each mile, not only because the vehicles and the roads they drive on differ, but because some drivers have heavier feet than others. Using average numbers (25 MPG gas car), this comes out to an average of 98 miles added per session, which is a good number.
The amount of electricity dispensed is also a huge number, and one that Doc Brown would have a freakout over: 41.4 gigawatt-hours of electricity. Great Scott! Even better news: you don’t have to hook up any cables to doomed clock towers in Hill Valley to get the power. Just pull up to any Electrify America station, and you can get what you need to make it home (as long as home is in the year 2022).
Featured image by Electrify America.