Photo by Carolyn Fortuna | CleanTechnica.

Public EV Charging in 2023

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Markets are shifting to electric vehicles (EVs) much faster than many had anticipated due to consumer interest and government mandates. That means automotive manufacturers are reaching out to electrical charge port developers, electrical grid operators, city planners, and policymakers to explore and establish robust electrical infrastructure and charge ports to meet the needs of a new generation of EVs. Public EV charging is evolving, for sure, as critical infrastructure to enable the automotive transition to electrification.

Many questions now arise about public EV charging in 2023 and beyond.

  • What current policies are in place for cities to usher in more efficient and reliable public EV charging?
  • What needs to happen for more robust network development of public EV charging?
  • What’s next in regulations and industry standards for developing intelligent infrastructure?
  • What new developments have emerged recently in electrical infrastructure and charge port technologies?
  • What will the next generation of smart and efficient public EV charging look like?

We’ll be answering these and other questions at CleanTechnica over the month of January to unpack what is a very important component of the larger transportation electrification picture.

Keeping up with a growing global EV fleet is a challenge. For the first three quarters of 2022, sales of battery-powered vehicles grew around 80% from a year earlier, while total vehicle sales fell about 4%, according to Bloomberg Hyperdrive data. Tesla is the world’s top EV maker by vehicles sold, followed by China’s BYD, China’s SAIC, and Germany’s Volkswagen Group. About 15% of new cars sold in Germany and the UK and more than 20% in China were electric in the first three quarters of 2022.

While EVs accounted for 5% of US sales during this period, US demand will likely jump thanks to tax breaks in the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law in August. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a $7.5-billion budget to help deploy 500,000 EV chargers throughout the US. The Biden–Harris Administration announced in September 2022 that more than two-thirds of Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Deployment Plans from states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have been approved ahead of schedule under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, established and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

With that backdrop of government support for EVs, by mid-December, companies had announced almost $28 billion of investment in EV-related manufacturing in North America.

To reach the US federal government’s goal of 50% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, the US needs 1.2 million public and 28 million private EV chargers, according to a study by McKinsey and company. EV charging is seen as critical infrastructure needed to enable the automotive transition to electrification. McKinsey estimates that total fleet consumption could increase from 11 billion kWh today to 230 billion kWh in 2030.

Yet an EV fleet of over 48 million in circulation by 2030 would have considerable electricity consumption, and the US must have enough EV charging stations to provide that energy. EVs could represent 5% of US electricity consumption by the end of the decade. How will public charging in 2023 begin to reflect those statistics of necessary increased electricity consumption and numbers of charging stations?

Public EV Charging Arrives at CES 2023

EV charging has finally emerged as an important topic of discussion at CES 2023, which is taking place this week in Las Vegas. CES is considered by many to be the most influential tech event in the world — the proving ground for breakthrough technologies and global innovators.

A startup with celebrity funding that is opening new possibilities for EV charging made an appearance at CES 2023. SparkCharge, the first company to create a mobile EV charging system and network, announced it has launched its fleet services solution, the newest available from its mobile Charging as a Service (CaaS) lineup, to help make the EV transition simpler, more affordable, and more immediate.

Heads turned at CES 2023 when Amazon revealed it was forming a deal with EVgo, a maker of EV charging systems. The joint venture will provide a service to streamline the process of locating, paying, and initiating recharging sessions at an EVgo station. Scheduled for a late 2023 launch, the Alexa-assisted EV charging service is purported to be able to connect drivers to more than 150,000 US public charging stations through EVgo’s PlugShare map.

True to its December advanced promise, Blink unveiled 5 new products at CES 2023 for a variety of automotive sectors including retail, home, parking garage, and street charging. The Vision charging system is a two-in-one solution that comes with a 55-inch LCD screen capable of displaying advertising. The EQ 200 system, designed for European and South American markets, can fit into any location tailored for bi-directional, vehicle-to-grid systems. The PQ 150 smart charging cable is targeted for the European residential charging market. Series 3 is designed for the APAC and Latin American markets for two- and three-wheel EVs. The Series 9 is a 30 kW DC fast charger in a small footprint with an LCD touchscreen display for commercial charging sectors.

Mimic the Gas Station Experience

Familiarity creates comfort, even as change occurs around us. The EV charging reveals at CES 2023 offer insights into the quickly expanding field. For public EV charging to become a comfortable norm, though, it will be important for people to be able to get a public charge as quickly as possible and then move on, so other vehicles can come through. An influx of investment funds is needed, as a single DC fast charger can cost between $40,000 and $100,000.

Even with DC fast chargers, each recharge takes around 10-20 minutes. EV charging stations must provide enough space for vehicles in need of a recharge. This is not an issue in shopping malls and other buildings with ample parking areas, since existing spaces can simply be converted into EV chargers. However, dedicated charging stations must be prepared to handle vehicle lines. Level 1 and Level 2 chargers require several hours. This means the waiting time per vehicle will be longer compared with the refueling time in a traditional gas station. Designing a proper layout with enough parking space is key before setting up a dedicated recharging station with multiple DC fast chargers.

Municipally owned sites are a good fit for public EV charging because it’s much easier to get the approval there, and municipal sites tend to be located close to population centers.

Final Thoughts

As the US looks for equilibrium for EV public charging, Mercedes-Benz revealed it is planning to build 400 locations containing 2,500 chargers with up to 350 kW of capacity in North America by 2027. The automaker is seeking to install a total of more than 10,000 fast chargers in North America, Europe, China, and other key markets.

Need to locate a charger in the US or Canada? Click on this DOE charging stations locator.

There were more than 8,700 public chargers installed in the UK during 2022, bringing the total available to more than 37,000, according to Zap-Map, a data company. Next will be a focus toward on-street chargers, which can charge cheaply overnight and will be crucial for the millions of households that lack private off-street parking.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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