Plug it in: the number of charging stations for electric cars is increasing

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STRAIT –
When the electric car revolution arrives, will there be enough places to plug in?

There are now 26,000 electric vehicle charging stations open to the public in the United States, with more than 84,000 outlets.

But the country, and the world, will need thousands more if drivers switch to vehicles powered solely by batteries. And because they are being asked to invest before that demand arrives, automakers and charging companies are struggling to crank up the numbers.

Currently, electric vehicles represent only about 1.3% of total new vehicle sales in the United States, according to automotive site Edmunds.com. Electricity is much more important in other countries, accounting for 2.6% of global new vehicle sales last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

With more than 40 fully electric vehicles on the market in the United States or to come in the next three years, however, auto and charging company executives say demand is on the way.

“More and more automakers are committing to making electric vehicles,” said Mike Moran, spokesperson for Electrify America, a network of charging stations under construction with $ 2 billion in funding. Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud scandal resolved. “Last year, automakers announced a total of $ 225 billion in electrification investments.”

General Motors and the EVGo charging company on Friday announced plans to add around 700 fast-charging stations, tripling the number on the EVGo network over the next five years. They wouldn’t say how much they’ll invest, but plan to add 2,700 fast-charging outlets.

They will focus on 40 unspecified metropolitan areas, specifically California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. And they will build the stations near places where people go to shop, like grocery stores or drugstores. Typically, a fast charger can charge a battery in 30 to 40 minutes, so the idea is for the charge to take place while people are shopping.

“We’ve done extensive research with consumers to understand what’s important to the customer,” said Mary Barra, CEO of GM. “It’s clear that our customers have told us that it is important to have a robust charging infrastructure.”

GM, based in Detroit, said it was moving away from the internal combustion engine for a fully electric future and that it plans to deploy 20 new electric vehicles around the world by 2023. Ford, rival of Crosstown, has a fully electric SUV with a length of 480 kilometers. ) range and provides an all-electric version of the F-150 pickup, the best-selling vehicle in the country.

Fast charging stations have higher kilowatt capacities than household chargers, and they are important for quickly recharging batteries on newer electric vehicles that can travel 300 miles or more on a single charge. But most of the country’s public charging network is much slower. The US Department of Energy says there are 3,884 public fast-charging stations in the country with 14,858 outlets.

As more electric vehicles are sold, faster chargers will be needed, especially for people living in apartment buildings who cannot charge at home, said Cathy Zoi, CEO of EVGo. .

The 2,700 new fast-charging sockets will begin to be available early next year. GM and EVGo say they will invest in outlets, but many will be built with funding from utilities, governments and public-private partnerships.

More public charging stations will allow GM and other automakers to better compete with Tesla, which is now the world leader in electric vehicle sales and has its own private network of fast-charging stations. Tesla has a network of 1,971 charging stations with 17,467 points of sale around the world. A US number was not available.

Electrify America now has more than 450 charging stations in the United States with more than 2,000 fast-charging outlets, Moran said. It plans to have 800 stations and around 3,500 outlets by the end of next year.

Guide analyst Sam Abuelsamid said the number of chargers is growing rapidly and should be enough to meet demand as more EVs are sold. A big problem now is that each network has its own payment system, so owners need multiple accounts to access all chargers, he said. But Ford, GM and others are trying to aggregate all the networks into one account.

“As more and more vehicles come to the market that support faster charging and have longer range, especially with aggregation, enabling roaming, that’s where I think it will start. to make a difference, ”he said.

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