Electric vehicle charging stations: if you drive an EV, you need one. There are home stations, and public/commercial stations popping up to fuel up your car or truck. E-bike riders are on their own for now. This page focuses on the state of Level 2 and 3 commercial/public chargers.
If you use your EV for commuting or other intermediate distance traveling, distance from the home charger is a big deal. Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf are specified to go 100 miles between charges, but that range will, in reality, sometimes be less.
The Leaf is equipped with one of the brightest ideas in electric vehicle charging. A heads up display includes your current estimated range based on position and accessories (like AC) running, as well as the nearest location of charging stations. You can tell at a glance if there is enough energy to reach the destination.
Public/Commercial Charging Stations in the USA
Charge station installations are on the rise. In April of 2011 there were 750 stations. By August 2011, the number had grown to 2916, and close to 5,000 by the end of 2011, and 6,300 by March of 2012.
So, where are the charging stations and how many are there? At present, many charging stations are in California with others in Arizona, Florida, Georgia Tennessee, and Portland, Or. A list is provided by www.evchargernews.com. A color coded charger map of the states is provided by the DOE.
EVMaps has a new a color coded map of charging stations in the Continental US. Check it out: www.evmaps.info.
It is interesting that many of the charging stations in California are from the last generation (circa 2000) of public chargers. That is changing. In a $100 million settlement, NRG Energy will provide for the upgrade of 10,000 charging units at 1,000 existing locations, and the installation of 200 new locations.
No matter what the input current, battery pack, or charger used, the plug from the power source must match the charger. At the present, owners of new EVs may find difficulty matching older charge station plugs on the list to new cars.
Hopefully this issue will be addressed by charger station upgrades, and aftermarket parts.
EV Charging Programs in the USA
Pike Research forecasts that by 2017, more than 1.5 million charge station locations will be available in the United States. That is a big number compared to the number of EVs likely to be sold in the same period.
Israel sports charging stations and will be featuring battery switching stations as well. These EV fueling stops are in part the effort and design of the California- based Better Place. The relatively small dimensions of Israel make it a prime testing ground for technologies like battery switching and EV charge points.
London the UK, France and Germany provide charge stops as well as a growing network in Japan.
The UK is charging straight ahead, setting a high standard. The Monarchy expects to have 3,500 stations installed by 2012. The excellent tracking site Zap-Map shows current hot spots.
The Governments of all these nations support EV transport and charging infrastructure. Several European charging outfits are given on the previous page as well.
One problem to overcome with public charging stations in many US states is the fact that the sale of electric energy by the kilowatt hour can only legally be done by a public utilty. This presents obvious problems for private manufacturers and installers of charging stations. In California, the issue is being addressed.
The California Public Utilities Comission has just ruled that electric vehicle charging stations are not to be classified as pubilc utilities. A win for common sense there at least.
The Future of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
The future direction of EV charging station growth appears to be up, up, up. According to Pike Research, a total of 7.7 million charge points could be installed worldwide by 2017. Current EV sales forecasts (including PHEV) is somewhere around 6 million units per year by 2017 as well.
By region, about 65% of the 1 million or so charge points installed in the USA will be household stations. This compares to just %35 of household units installed in Europe and Asia, where the bulk will be public and commercial stations.
Honda is looking to the future of EV charging. The company is testing solar powered charging units. The panels are molded into a roof over the stations. No word on the amount of output.
Better Place LLC, in Israel has placed 100 Renault Fluence EVs
on the road
The EV Project at Idaho National Lab has been tracking EV charging.
The project monitors some 6,194 commercial and
4,606 residential 1,588 charge stations. The cars include 4,191 Nissan Leafs and 428 Chevy Volts so far driven a total of 27.6 million miles.
Nissan Leaf owners drive 30 miles per day average, while the Chevy Volts were driven about 36 miles per day on average.
Owners in the group charge their cars mostly at home, at night. They charge to over 90% SOC (state of charge) around 65% of the time.
However, when charging at
public charge stations during the day the EV owners in the group charged above 90% SOC about half as often, 40% of the time. The same charged to 70-80% SOC
just 20% of the time.