Charging Remains Biggest U.S. Hurdle to EV Adoption
Although electric vehicles have taken huge steps toward mainstream adoption over the past few years, at least one major barrier remains. As Tesla and others work to expand their charging networks, consumers may still struggle to go electric until public charging becomes more extensive — and reliable.
Above: A Tesla Model Y at a Supercharger (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).
A new article from The Atlantic posits that drivers will need to feel comfortable driving anywhere in the U.S. at any time without fear of being stranded due to lack of charge, if we are to help EV adoption progress. Although the number of charging ports in the U.S. more than doubled between 2018 and 2022 according to the Department of Energy, most networks still have a long way to go before convincing drivers that there are enough in working condition to justify long road trips.
In the article, EVSession founder Bill Ferro detailed a significant need to make chargers more reliable. Ferro’s platform EVSession lets drivers track charger reliability, drawing on experiences when unreliable chargers almost left him stranded. While most EV owners charge their vehicles overnight at home, enough for the average commute to work, long-term road trips are a different story.
“I think [public charging] is the thing that is, right now, in the way of mass adoption,” Ferro told The Atlantic. “Five years ago, it was range. Now the infrastructure is deterring those people who are just not gung ho about getting an EV.”
Ferro recounted a time when he was nearly stranded around midnight with his BMW i3 years ago, when a charging stall in a mall parking lot wasn’t working and wasn’t unlatching from his car. He was luckily able to figure out how to unlatch after some time, before he was forced to rush several miles to a different charging station. Now, Ferro drives a Tesla, giving him access to the company’s Supercharger network.
Not only are Superchargers considered the most extensive and reliable charging network in the U.S. today — with over 12,000 charging stalls across the country — but they’re also easy to navigate to. And while they aren’t public, the company will officially open them to Ford EVs next year, and maybe more down the road.
Above: What Ford & Tesla's charger partnership means for drivers (Video: Yahoo Finance / YouTube).
Still, Ferro admits that even recent developments will still require more to woo new customers into electrification.
Gabe Klein, executive director of the Department of Energy’s Joint Energy and Transportation Office says adoption will require chargers to “work every time” and to be “able to be used by any driver, any EV, anywhere.”
“The only real game in town that allows you to go nationwide is Electrify America, and they have their troubles,” added Ryan Mackenzie, a San Antonio, Texas resident. “Other times, you get there and your stall doesn’t work, or it starts working and it fails.”