General Motors, Volkswagen Group, Ford Motor Company, Hyundai Motor Company, Tesla Motors, BYD, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motors have all committed to building multiple EVs over the next few years and that should tell you exactly where the auto industry is heading.
This isn't a 'flash-in-the-pan' type fad that eventually wears out its welcome. Electric vehicles are here to stay and almost certainly going to take over the auto industry. The question is no longer when will the arrive it's where do we go from here. Despite rapid growth the EV industry still has a long way to go in one department, charging.
A Public Concern
Recently much of the emphasis has been placed on the massive build-out of a public charging network. Public charging programs like the West Coast Electric Highway have gotten plenty of press, but should we pump so much money into public infrastructure?
The answer might be a lackluster maybe, if all the stations are fast charging. The pros of a public system are easy to see. "What if I am in desperate need of a charge?", "What happens on long trips?", "How will I know I can get a charge when I arrive at a destination?", these are all legitimate concerns and ones that are directly resolved by a public network, the only real problems are cost and time.
Most public chargers day are Level 2 chargers, meaning they charge at a slower rate (around 8-11 hours to fill up a Tesla) while these chargers don't have the speed required for quick stops they are relatively cheap to install. For most of the scenarios above Level 2 chargers are a terrible solution, they're just too slow. Can you imagine trying to rely on a public network when it takes that long to fill up every time??? Level 3 chargers (like Tesla's Supercharger Network) cut the wait time down to about 30 minutes to an hour, but are very expensive and difficult to install due to power limitations.
Up to now the lion's share of the work has been handled by a mixture of startups, utility companies, and the automotive manufacturers themselves, most notably Tesla and Volkswagen (Although VW has only committed $2B they have yet to build a single station). However, as more and more EVs begin to appear on the roadway it's only a matter of time before those costs get passed on to the consumer, making fast EV charging more expensive than it is currently.
Charging At Home
Even though we are all used to the gas station model, its even recommended by Tesla to get in-home charging. Not only does it alleviate strain on Tesla's Supercharger Network, but it also saves you quite a lot of time. On average, most EV drivers need to charge 2-4 hours daily which would be a real pain on a public network, however, if the charger is installed at home you simply plug it in once you're done for the day. Just like your phone your car charges up while you sleep and is ready to go when you are.
For most single family homes getting charging is relatively inexpensive and easy, adding a 240v plug should suffice, but for those living in cities or multifamily homes like condos and apartments, the task gets much trickier (#ShamelessPlug: although companies like EverCharge help keep installs affordable for all). With in-home charging, many of the costs and issues with public charging are completely resolved.
For now, the best case scenario for the foreseeable future is for EV drivers to invest in in-home charging while automotive groups and public utilities build out a Level 3 public charging network that focuses solely on long-haul journeys and emergencies. By doing this, drivers will be able to completely enjoy EV ownership and trust me there is a lot to like.