The Challenges Facing EV Charging in the Coming Years

A trip on the highway makes it obvious that the electric car has become far more common than it once was. The automotive landscape is certainly branching out towards an electric future, even if the progress can seem frustratingly slow at times. But reaching a point where the majority of vehicles are electric requires overcoming some serious challenges – and charging is perhaps the biggest of these challenges.

The charging infrastructure in the United States and other countries is still spotty at best – and nonexistent in many areas. Unfortunately, no one has quite come up with the solution to this problem yet. Consumers and commercial enterprises are only going to dive into EVs when they know they can power them conveniently and cost-effectively, which means the EV industry still has some serious hurdles to get over in the coming years.

What are the Biggest Challenges with EV Charging?

1. EV owners need to be able to charge at home – and to do so as efficiently as possible.

The most obvious and practical method for charging an electric vehicle for personal use is to charge it at home. But there are some difficulties in home charging scenarios that need to be addressed before consumers will gladly transition to owning an electric vehicle. Some of these difficulties include:

  • Better batteries mean longer charging times. It is ironic that the improvement of EV batteries has created a situation where consumers are less likely to want to own an electric vehicle. Just a few years ago, a Nissan Leaf owner could charge their car in about 7 hours with a “Level 2” 220-volt system. Today, a Tesla Model S will take fifty hours to charge from a normal outlet and 11 hours from a 220-volt outlet. Tesla offers an improved charging system that can make charging faster, but it’s expensive.
  • Improved home charging systems are expensive. If you do purchase a Tesla, you can purchase a charging system that will triple charging rates from a 220-volt outlet. However, the cost of installing that charging system can run upwards of $6,000. Considering the relatively high cost of purchasing a Tesla in the first place, adding on a pricey charging system could make the vehicles less appealing – especially when you enter into the majority of the auto market where consumers want value over luxury.
  • EV owners that don’t own their own homes need charging options. Some EV buyers don’t have the option of installing a charging system at home, such as those living in apartment buildings. They need a way to charge their vehicles, otherwise, they are unlikely to make the switch.
  • Consumers want things to be easy. Charging at home can be sold to consumers as easier than having to visit the gas station regularly – but only if they don’t have to make any major changes to their home to own the car. The industry needs to find a way to make it where EV buyers can switch to electric with minimal disruption to their lives.

2. Utility grids need to be designed to deal with mass EV ownership.

The end goal of the EV revolution is to have everyone who needs an automobile to be using an electric vehicle. But a quick look at the average power grid will show that most if not all are ill-equipped to deal with mass EV ownership. Most neighborhoods would experience power issues if everyone turned on their electric range at the same time – and electric vehicles are more demanding on the grid than electric ranges.

There are ways to manage these concerns, but they need to be implemented before everyone owns an electric vehicle. Charging can be managed by smart charging systems so that the vehicles charge during off-peak times. Charging systems can be installed that are charged when it makes the most sense for the grid and electric vehicles charge from these systems. Power grids can be upgraded as well to handle more demand – but these kinds of upgrades are expensive and it can be difficult to convince taxpayers to pay for them without official legal changes, particularly when they don’t own an EV or plan on owning one.

3. Charging stations need to be accessible away from home.

EV range continues to improve as battery technology is upgraded, but you will never get away from the major fear of anyone considering an EV – what happens if you run out of power away from home? There are certainly more charging stations available now than there were even a few years ago, especially in areas with high EV ownership. But there are definitely not enough to convince many consumers that they will never have to worry about finding a place to charge their car when and where they need it.

Slower and rapid charging stations are coming online and some municipalities are exploring different options for charging stations. What the final distribution will look like though still remains to be seen.

The Challenges Facing EV Charging in the Coming Years

A trip on the highway makes it obvious that the electric car has become far more common than it once was. The automotive landscape is certainly branching out towards an electric future, even if the progress can seem frustratingly slow at times. But reaching a point where the majority of vehicles are electric requires overcoming some serious challenges – and charging is perhaps the biggest of these challenges.

The charging infrastructure in the United States and other countries is still spotty at best – and nonexistent in many areas. Unfortunately, no one has quite come up with the solution to this problem yet. Consumers and commercial enterprises are only going to dive into EVs when they know they can power them conveniently and cost-effectively, which means the EV industry still has some serious hurdles to get over in the coming years.

What are the Biggest Challenges with EV Charging?

1. EV owners need to be able to charge at home – and to do so as efficiently as possible.

The most obvious and practical method for charging an electric vehicle for personal use is to charge it at home. But there are some difficulties in home charging scenarios that need to be addressed before consumers will gladly transition to owning an electric vehicle. Some of these difficulties include:

  • Better batteries mean longer charging times. It is ironic that the improvement of EV batteries has created a situation where consumers are less likely to want to own an electric vehicle. Just a few years ago, a Nissan Leaf owner could charge their car in about 7 hours with a “Level 2” 220-volt system. Today, a Tesla Model S will take fifty hours to charge from a normal outlet and 11 hours from a 220-volt outlet. Tesla offers an improved charging system that can make charging faster, but it’s expensive.
  • Improved home charging systems are expensive. If you do purchase a Tesla, you can purchase a charging system that will triple charging rates from a 220-volt outlet. However, the cost of installing that charging system can run upwards of $6,000. Considering the relatively high cost of purchasing a Tesla in the first place, adding on a pricey charging system could make the vehicles less appealing – especially when you enter into the majority of the auto market where consumers want value over luxury.
  • EV owners that don’t own their own homes need charging options. Some EV buyers don’t have the option of installing a charging system at home, such as those living in apartment buildings. They need a way to charge their vehicles, otherwise, they are unlikely to make the switch.
  • Consumers want things to be easy. Charging at home can be sold to consumers as easier than having to visit the gas station regularly – but only if they don’t have to make any major changes to their home to own the car. The industry needs to find a way to make it where EV buyers can switch to electric with minimal disruption to their lives.

2. Utility grids need to be designed to deal with mass EV ownership.

The end goal of the EV revolution is to have everyone who needs an automobile to be using an electric vehicle. But a quick look at the average power grid will show that most if not all are ill-equipped to deal with mass EV ownership. Most neighborhoods would experience power issues if everyone turned on their electric range at the same time – and electric vehicles are more demanding on the grid than electric ranges.

There are ways to manage these concerns, but they need to be implemented before everyone owns an electric vehicle. Charging can be managed by smart charging systems so that the vehicles charge during off-peak times. Charging systems can be installed that are charged when it makes the most sense for the grid and electric vehicles charge from these systems. Power grids can be upgraded as well to handle more demand – but these kinds of upgrades are expensive and it can be difficult to convince taxpayers to pay for them without official legal changes, particularly when they don’t own an EV or plan on owning one.

3. Charging stations need to be accessible away from home.

EV range continues to improve as battery technology is upgraded, but you will never get away from the major fear of anyone considering an EV – what happens if you run out of power away from home? There are certainly more charging stations available now than there were even a few years ago, especially in areas with high EV ownership. But there are definitely not enough to convince many consumers that they will never have to worry about finding a place to charge their car when and where they need it.

Slower and rapid charging stations are coming online and some municipalities are exploring different options for charging stations. What the final distribution will look like though still remains to be seen.

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