Electric Charging By the Numbers
By Mark Hart
VP of Business Development, ACDI/Terra
One day, in the future, all new car sales will be electric, and EV chargers will be ubiquitous — installed at nearly every home, store, hotel, shopping mall, and workplace in the US.
In the past few years, the question about EVs dominating U.S. roads shifted from “If?” to “When?” And as I shared in the previous article in this series, while sales grew gradually and modestly for much of the past decade, they doubled in 2021 over 2020, with EVs making up roughly 4.6% of new light passenger vehicle sales. True, less than five out of 100 doesn’t represent an inflection point. But that’s also up from 0% in 2010.
Furthermore, several factors point to a continuation of this robust trend in 2022. While EVs will not dominate U.S. roads by the end of the decade, they will see dramatic growth in market share and go mainstream.
The growth of EV charging is critical to this emerging reality, one that the federal government hopes to propel by investing $7.5 billion in public EV charging infrastructure, among other things. The investment is intended to put the U.S. “on the path to a convenient and equitable network of 500,000 chargers and make EVs accessible to all Americans for both local and long-distance trips,” the Administration announced in February.
Three Levels of EV Chargers
EV chargers are categorized by three different levels, or ranges of power:
- Level 1 utilizes a common household 120-volt outlet. This typically provides about two to four miles of range for every hour of charging, depending on the EV. The vast majority of Level 1 charging is done at people’s homes or apartments.
Level 2, the workhorse of EV chargers, draws from the kind of 240-volt outlet used with clothes dryers, and can top off an EV about five times faster than a Level 1.
- Level 2 charging is common where cars are parked for at least a few hours or overnight, such as at hotels, shopping malls, parking lots, and workplace locations. At the end of 2021, in the U.S. there were nearly 92,000 public Level 2 chargers installed at located at more than 33,000 locations.
- Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC), also referred to as Level 3, is the fastest charging speed, capable of charging an all-electric vehicle, a.k.a. a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) to 80 percent in just 20 minutes to one hour. How fast a BEV can add, say a few hundred miles, varies by many factors, including the power (measured in kilowatts) of the charger, the maximum charging capability of the EV, the state of charge of the battery (e.g. 20% charged versus 50%), the outside temperature and other factors. Shopping centers and malls, convenience stores, and grocery stores have the highest number of DC fast chargers across all property types.
Growth of EV Charging Locations
Level 2: Critical to Widespread Adoption
While DC fast chargers receive the majority of the headlines and federal infrastructure investment, Level 2 chargers are critical to widespread EV adoption. For one thing, PHEVs, which currently account for roughly one-third of the EVs on the road in the U.S., cannot use DC fast chargers (except for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV). Furthermore, Level 2 chargers are far less expensive and typically easier to install than DC fast chargers, which can cost from a low of about 5 to more than 50 times that of Level 2 to deploy.
Level 2 chargers are thus understandably described as the realm’s workhorse because they are critical to enabling people to execute some of their most common and crucial activities, such as commuting to work or school, and performing everyday chores such as shopping.
Always Be Charging
Most of the time, EV charging habits aren’t decided by how fast a driver can charge, but by how seamlessly the task fits with one’s routines.
A distributed refueling infrastructure, heavy on Level 2 chargers, affordably and conveniently places chargers anywhere and everywhere we’re going to be. It’s an Everywhere Approach where EV Parking means EV Charging; if we’re not driving, we can be charging.
Now that we have addressed a lot of the numbers around EV sales and charger deployment, in this series’ next article, I’ll start delving into charger deployment considerations and best practices.
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