Electric car charging stations have been growing at an exponential rate. With every manufacturer planning to make the eventual transition towards electric vehicles, throwing up infrastructure has become a potentially lucrative investment. While the number of gas stations are declining, ev chargers continue to grow. EVAdoption points out that as of March 2019, there are over 63,000 level 2 and up charging stations in the US.
Faster Charge Rate
But the future of electric car charging stations isn’t just about quantity, there’s much to improve. For one, level two chargers are not ideal and have become a bit dated. They provide just 70 miles of range in an hour. While great for at home overnight charging, the speeds don’t fair well with travel. That’s where DC fast charging comes into play. They provide up to an 80% charge in just 20-30 minutes.
The thing is DC fast chargers, or level 3 chargers, vary greatly. There’s a lot to know and a lot we’ve already covered. There is no level 4 nameplate just yet so anything above level 2 speeds technically classifies as DC chargers. For example, Tesla’s Supercharger V2 and new V3 are both labeled the same yet V3 provides a 50% faster charge.
Currently the easiest way to check the chargers potential speed would be through its specifications. A Tesla Supercharger V2 charges at 120 kW while V3 charges at 250 kW. Electrify America, a charge station company, is beginning to roll out 350 kW charging stations as we speak. Some companies are even working on 450 kW charging which, in theory, would be able to add 62 miles of range in just three minutes!
You must keep in mind that no vehicle is currently capable of charging at such speeds. These chargers are being rolled out in preparation of future technology. Porsche currently leads the pack with their Taycan having the capability to charge at 270 kW from a 350 kw station.
In the future we will see these fast charge stations take up every corner in America. Just about every upcoming electric car has the capability to use DC fast chargers so we will see them implemented more as we wean away from level 2 chargers. There are currently ~10,000 DC fast charge stations in the US and growing. Tesla is working strenuously in expanding their proprietary 250 kW chargers.
These will continue to solely be used for distant travel. Unlike gasoline vehicles, you can “fill up” your EV’s “tank” at home. Using a standard 240v outlet your car can be charged while you sleep, just like your phone. If you’d like to charge a bit faster, you can even install an EV charging station at home.
If you don’t already have an outlet installed, don’t worry, it’s easy. But in the future every home will have an available EV charging space. Cities are already attempting to implement regulations forcing new homes or even new parking lots to provide spaces to charge electric cars.
We also expect to see an abundance of apartments with electric car charging stations. Currently many EV prospects rule out ownership due to lack of available home charging in their apartment buildings. Ownership in an apartment is already easier than you think but with these same regulations we expect apartments everywhere to provide electric car charging station locations.
Along with a future filled with an abundance of available electric cars, we also expect automation to soon take over. Just about every manufacturer working on bringing EV’s to market is also working on bring self-driving technology.
Robo-taxis and self-driving Ubers are something straight out of a sci-fi movie but there are real companies out there looking to make it a reality. In order to do so optimally these cars need some sort of automated charging to coincide with other human-less tasks.
There’s been a few concepts floating around throughout the years with a couple standing out. Volkswagen’s idea would be to have a robot bring a portable charger to designated parking spaces. This would allow for minimal infrastructure changes as the chargers would reside in a small, designated, area only moving when called away.
This method would be useful today in just about every parking garage. Rather than dedicating a few parking spots that can be ICE’d, you can park anywhere and the charger will just find you. Once finished the charger would disconnect and move onto the next target. This is extremely beneficial as currently when your car is done charging you must go and move it to leave room for others on the road. This can easily interrupt your meal or movie depending on where you choose to visit.
Tesla’s solution is a bit less complicated but lives in a world of full self-driving. Using a snake charger of sorts the plug would find and connect to your car without any human intervention.
Tesla’s goal is to launch a robo-taxi network of driver-less cars. Cars would leave the lots to pick up and drop off customers and find there way back to the chargers on their own. It’s a bit ambitious but according to Elon Musk, it’s just a few years away.
Once full self-driving is achieved, the Tesla snake chargers would also be useful for Tesla owners as well. Just imagine falling asleep in Miami and waking up in New York. Through this method overnight road trips would be an ease and charging wouldn’t even be noticeable. I’d much prefer this over taking another cramped airline flight.
The Future Looks Bright
This isn’t just concept art of what we imagine the world will look like in the next century, these are real products and innovations that companies today are working hard towards. Electric car ownership today can be a bit exhausting but we are carving a path towards a simplified future.
I think you can forget about the robot chargers and snakes. Everything will go wireless. Parking lots/ramps will use the concrete stoppers or the car will find the charge pad itself