The Future Of EV Life Means Solving “Charging Deserts”
By Matt Woodworth
Imagine it’s 2030. Electric cars dominate new car sales, and as a result, most people care about the infrastructure that supports them. All hotels have level 2 charging, and most have dozens of spots. A business trip to a rural area doesn’t pose a challenge from a charging perspective, apartment dwellers have good support from property owners, and staying the night at a friend’s house is just a matter of bringing the correct 240-volt adapter for the plug they almost certainly have. There are just two charging plug standards, and owners of Teslas and non-Teslas all carry adapters for the other standard. Every movie theater, shopping center, and most restaurants offer charging.
If you’ve owned an EV for a while, this probably sounds incredible. But, of course, we’re not there yet, not even close. Before COVID, I was on a business trip to rural Arizona from Texas, where I was staying on federal property outside a small border town for a couple months. My charging options were driving to the DC fast charger 75 miles away in Tucson or siphoning electrons from a hotel in town. Using the latter option either meant camping there for hours or having someone pick me up and drop me off. Without good level 2 charging where one parks, the logistics are a mess. Anyone who’s been there is likely nodding in agreement. While charging at home is incredibly convenient, and getting to one’s destination is trivial, the situation *at* the destination presents the real challenge.
For those who don’t drive electric, it seems the greatest obstacle to mass adoption is the lack of DC fast chargers (Tesla Superchargers, Electrify America, Ionity, etc.) along highways. This makes sense, since range is one of the biggest concerns for those hesitant to make the switch. When politicians talk EV infrastructure, it’s invariably about installing more DC fast chargers along highways. Absolutely, level 3 charging can and should be improved, but the lower-hanging fruit is massively expanding level 2 charging availability. When I floated the idea for this article, the CleanTechnica editor who responded relayed that she’d recently moved to a place with only one working charger in a closed parking garage some distance away. This is exactly the sort of inconvenience that EV enthusiasts grit their teeth and bear but that would put off most people from ever considering EV ownership.
Dramatically increasing level 2 charging makes good economic sense too. While DC fast chargers start north of $100,000, level 2 charging stations are only a small fraction of that cost. As has been written about many times before, having these stations at a business means increased foot traffic, and as the share of EV drivers on the road continues to grow, those business and property owners who are installing level 2 chargers now will be well positioned to benefit from the looming transition away from fossil fuel vehicles.
The next time you take a business trip, whether it’s to Los Angeles or Sierra Vista, here’s hoping that finding a plug where you park is that little bit easier.
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