The EV Infrastructure Issue

Yes, people like fast and free. How do you build a business case on that?

By Gary S. Vasilash

“Public charging infrastructure is a key component in the overall adoption of electric vehicles by the broad population.

“Unfortunately, the availability of public charging is the least satisfying aspect of owning an EV. Owners are reasonably happy in situations where public charging is free, doesn’t require a wait and the location offers other things to do—but that represents a best-case scenario.

“The industry needs to make significant investment in public charging to assure a level of convenience and satisfaction that will lure potentially skeptical consumers to EVs.”–Brent Gruber, senior director of global automotive at J.D. Power.

J.D. Power has launched its first U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Public Charging Study, so Gruber’s observations are predicated on the responses of actual battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Think about this:

  • People like free
  • People like fast
  • People like distractions

If energy providers are going to increase the speeds of charging, then this means they’re going to need to spend more money on their equipment.

So free and fast seem to be at odds.

And let’s face it: there is only so long that any business that wants to stay in business is going to be able to offer something for nothing.

As for the distractions, that goes to the point of the amount of time that it takes to recharge an EV.

Again, if the speed goes up, then the need for much in the way of distractions goes down.

(At a local bp station there are video screens on the pumps that play canned content that are high on the annoyance scale and subtractive on the info scale. Thank goodness it takes a brief period of time to recharge.)

Gruber noted: “Building a better infrastructure starts with more collaboration among automakers, charge point operators, site locations, utilities and government at all levels.”

All of which is to say that in order to get more EVs in more garages it is going to take more than having features that allow a vehicle to go incredibly fast or to maneuver like a crustacean.

1 thought on “The EV Infrastructure Issue

  1. Free air at gas stations used to be an expected given. Then, in the 1970s, someone decided to charge a quarter for it, and today free air is almost impossible to find. The same may happen with public charging stations (except gas stations won’t be their main location).

    But could “Free charging while you shop” evolve into a competitive advantage for grocery stores etc., and become another expected given? Maybe Shell and BP stations will always charge for charging, but could the parking lots of Walmart, with a “Free charging while you shop” a nation-wide marketing ploy, become the go-to pit stops for Interstate travelers in the coming years?


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