Although the infrastructure for electric vehicle charging has grown substantially in recent years there is still some work that needs to be done. Based on data from the Department of Energy, the University of Michigan has reported that currently there are nearly 16,000 public charging stations in the U.S. with just under 43,000 connections.
At first blush, the comparison in the report to gas stations seems quite apt: “As is evident in Figure 11, the number of publicly available charging stations has grown rapidly since 2011. For comparison, there are approximately 112,000 individual gasoline stations covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015)
However, the needs of electric vehicles are quite different than those of conventional gasoline-fueled cars to the point that the comparison is not of much use. Whereas every conventional car can only get their fuel from a publicly available gas station, most of the charging for electric vehicles occur at home with private chargers for daily commutes. Public charging stations are of use usually for long distance travel alone. Here is where the new report is less promising.
Most of the growth in the number of stations and connections have occurred in the AC Level 2, a slower type of charge, where what is needed for public charging on long distance trips is the DC Fast type of charging. For comparison, there are 34,148 AC Level 2 connections and only 5,607 DC Fast connections. In fact, there are more of the AC Level 2 connections than there are any other types combined.
What is unclear from the report is in which categories they’ve assigned the Tesla-proprietary chargers. When it concerns the Superchargers, a DC Fast charger, it is in its own category, but as far as the thousand or so Destination charges, there is no indication of where they are in the count.
In the end, more can be done, in terms of both stations and connections, especially when it comes to the number of DC Fast chargers available. Already, Tesla has plans to expand its Supercharger network but that is not the only work to be done. Luckily, there are programs beginning like Volkswagen’s intentions to build a network of ultra-fast 320kW chargers in California and a 150kW network throughout the U.S.
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