Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the electric vehicle or the charging station?
In the beginning, gasoline-powered automobiles had to search far and wide to find a gas station. First, the Ford Model T, then the gas stations. Today, there are over 100,000 gas stations, not including private stations, in the United States, which makes sense, because there are some 250 million vehicles on the road. The electric vehicle does have the advantage when it comes to charging, because it doesn’t need public charging stations. Electric vehicle owners can simply charge at home.
This presents a problem for some, however, because not all electric vehicles have the capability to go long distances. Those who remain within the American average 30mi/day have their pick of electric vehicles that can go the distance with no problem. If they want to go on longer trips, though, they need a recharging station somewhere on the way, or they can buy one with more range, or an extended-range electric vehicle, or even a second conventional vehicle. [But what would be the point of that?]
Hence the rise of the electric vehicle charging industry. Tesla Motors has gone it alone, with the deployment of a network of Tesla Superchargers, which can charge a Tesla Model S, for free, up to 80% of its considerable range in just half-an-hour, but this only works for Tesla Model S drivers. What about the rest, how do you set up a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, and how do you charge for such a thing?
Some sort of system is needed, since less than half of electric vehicle owners even have a space where they can install a charging station at home. There are different ideas about, from installing public-access charging stations in parking garages or lots, as well as different ways to charge for charging, including smartphone app, RFID fob, or simple credit card transaction. Then, how much do you charge for access to a $30,000 fast-charging station? Some have suggested around 40¢/kWh, which would make regular access to these stations more expensive than conventional vehicles! Dimitrios Papadogonas, vice president of marketing for ChargePoint, says “it’s not surprising that there’s some confusion, because it’s a new industry and it’s getting sorted out.”