The release of the first affordable electric car, the Model 3, has garnered worldwide attention, and rightly so. Tesla plans to sell 430,000 cars by the end of 2018 in order to achieve CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious targets. Tesla needs to sell around 10,000 cars to reach this target. And it’s not just Tesla! Other manufacturers are also revving their engines to enter the electric cars market. Clearly, the market for electric cars is growing rapidly.
The rise in the number of electric vehicles, however, raises a pertinent question—where will all these cars charge? Executive Director of Stanford’s Center for Automotive Research, Stephen Zoepf, predicts that electric cars could have the same sticker prices as gasoline competitors. The latest figures show that only about 1% of total cars sold in the US are electric. The current number of 44,000 public charging stations is enough to handle the electric cars today. However, analysts’ projections drive home the need to rapidly ramp up the charging infrastructure.
Plugging at Home and in the City
Current electric-car owners charge mostly at home. Public stations are usually seen in the parking lots and businesses of wealthy suburban neighborhoods. But should Tesla finally hit its target and the market for electric cars continues to grow, the charging infrastructure and locations will be too limited. City residents who want to own electric cars simply don’t have the garage space for charging stations.
The infrastructure must start developing now to meet future demand, especially for city dwellers. Companies like Los Angeles’ ChargePoint sell charging stations to governments, businesses, and even individuals. The company charges a monthly fee for station maintenance and the electricity it provides for these charging stations. ChargePoint offers multiple electric charging solutions for individuals and organizations. Some of these include ChargePoint Home, CT4000 Family, CPE 100 and CPE 200, CPF25 Family, and ChargePoint Express Plus.
Other companies are jumping into the fray as well to cater to the burgeoning demand. Ubitricity is a German firm that offers low-power, low-cost plugs that can go inside lampposts. An Internet-connected “smart” power cable takes care of billing and metering. The firm has installed 20 Ubitricity plugs in street lamps and expects the number to hit 100 by March 2018. Ubitricity is not present in the US now but soon plans to expand.
Electric vehicles still have a lot of catching up to do vis-à-vis the numbers of gasoline vehicles. Projections estimate that electric cars will take at least two decades to outsell gasoline ones. And this provides ample time to ramp up the charging infrastructure to ensure a smooth transition to a cleaner and greener future.