At the New York International Auto Show, there were several electric vehicles on the show floor. Every major car manufacturer—from Ford to Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz to Porsche—had either an all-electric car or hybrid car on display. The problem is that while car manufacturers may be ready to start selling EVs to the masses, the infrastructure to charge these vehicles is not.
There are 114,533 gas stations in this country, according to the 2012 U.S. Census report. Most likely that number has gone up since that time. The U.S. Department of Energy keeps track of the current progress made in alternative fuel energy at the Alternative Fuels Data Center. Here, one can find the progress made in hydrogen, electric, and bio-gasoline distribution. When searching their database for electric charging stations across the country, only 17,843 are to be found—a mere 15% of all gas stations in the U.S.
According to the Alternative Fuel Data Center, there are only 17,843 electric charging stations across the United States.
The consumer interest of electric cars is real. CleanTechnica published its “The State of Public & Private Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure, And The Landscape Looking Forward” research paper in January 2018. In its findings, 63% of respondents reported thinking about buying—or having decided to buy—an electric car within the next 12 months. If the future of the electric vehicle is coming soon, then a huge investment must be made in its infrastructure.
CNBC recently reported on investment efforts being made in this area. According to its report, BP Ventures, owners of BP gas stations, have invested $5 million in FreeWire Technologies, a U.S. company that specializes in mobile electric vehicle rapid charging systems. BP plans to use the units at a selection of its retail sites in the U.K. and Europe this year. However, these are small test and trial runs—nothing of impact on a large scale.
A recent study from CleanTechnica revealed that 63% of respondents would be interested in purchasing an EV within the next 12 months.
In my opinion, the same car manufacturers that are looking to sell these cars need to start setting up the electric fueling stations for them. Tesla has already started this model. Tesla owners can charge up at any Tesla Supercharger across the country. Typically, we are used to having the gas and car business be split. However, we can’t expect the major gas companies to all of a sudden start setting up EV stations—they are reluctant to give up their major form of business. If car manufacturers really want to an electric car revolution, they need to supply not just the means but the fuel to get them going.