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Why EV Fast Chargers?

When Convenience becomes Necessity

Recently, a colleague of mine and I had a spirited conversation about the real need for fast chargers, direct current fast chargers (DCFC) and/or extreme fast chargers (XFC), for electric vehicles (EV). My colleague shared all of the most common stances:

  • Fast Chargers will be essential in eliminating range anxiety
  • There is a need for fast chargers along interstate corridors

I did not disagree with these stances. I instead suggested that the need for fast chargers is going to exceed the forecasts for the near future. As battery technology improves and EV affordability and sales increase, I believe that the convenience aspect of fast chargers will be transformed into necessity. One factor that I think will drive this transformation is the current state of the U.S. rental market (35%+ of households are rentals per U.S. Census). Though the rental market has seemed to plateau within the past couple of years, the economic demographics (housing costs > $1100) of the vast majority of new rental offerings suggests that those able to afford these offerings may well fall within the same group that currently can afford the present and near future selection of electric vehicles ["America’s Rental Housing 2017." Ed. Marcia Fernald. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 2017.].

My colleague stopped me here and wondered exactly where I was going with my argument. I stated that if the rental market continued its upward trend or at the very least maintained its current levels, then a substantial number of EV owners might not have access to home-based charging. This situation could force the need for an increase in the number of fast chargers for public use, beyond the forecasted numbers. My colleague disputed my assessment by referencing information from the September 2017 U.S. Department of Energy – Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s report entitled “National Plug-In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Analysis”. He reminded me that the analysis in the report stated that “consumer preferences with respect to electric range, charging power, and utilization of residential EVSE have direct and dramatic consequences on the level of charging demand calculated in this analysis.” His point was that he believed professionals and members of the renewable energy and EV communities had taken into consideration these changes in areas such as the rental market. Because of this, he felt like there was no need to be concerned about the forecasted estimate of “DCFC plug requirement of 25,000” for U.S. communities.

I finally stated that I think he missed my point that I think the need for public fast chargers will increase, sooner than expected. We finally just agreed to disagree. What do you think?