Number of electric vehicle charging points to rise significantly in 2018

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Gasoline stations outnumber electric vehicle charging stations by a wide margin in key global markets. That gap is expected to narrow with planned charger installations and significant growth in fast charging.

University of Michigan researchers earlier this year reported 16,000 public charging stations in the U.S., with nearly 43,000 individual charging connectors or plugs, based on federal government data. That made for only about one-in-10 charging stations to gas stations, with about 112,000 gas stations operating in the U.S. as of 2015.

China had 190,000 chargers installed by September 2017, with big plans in place to expand the network to 800,000 charging points.

The premise behind commitments made to EV charging infrastructures is that installing plentiful charging stations — especially fast chargers — will alleviate “range anxiety” over EVs running out of power, leaving drivers stuck out on the road. It’s one of the necessary elements to make EVs competitive with internal combustion engine vehicles.

Gas stations won’t be forced to shut down anytime soon over competition from global EV sales and its charging infrastructure. But the competition is there.

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Tesla hasn’t reached its commitment of doubling its global Supercharger fast-charging network this year. The electric carmaker earlier this year claimed it would go from about 5,000 Superchargers up to 10,000. It did bring an impressive number to the network, with more than 3,150 more Superchargers added this year. 

German automaker Volkswagen has agreed to add a substantial number of charging stations to U.S. cities — as part of restitution for its ‘Dieselgate’ deceptive practices on vehicle emissions reporting in its diesel cars. The Environmental Protection Agency had confronted VW about its emissions cheating scandal in September 2015.

Volkswagen will be installing 2,800 charging stations in 17 of the largest U.S. cities by June 2019, the company announced in December. The automaker’s Electrify America subsidiary will deploy about 500 locations. About 75% of the stations will be at workplaces and the rest at multifamily dwellings, such as apartment buildings and condos. The remaining charging stations will be placed in high-traffic areas with more frequent charging activity.

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While many of the new chargers being installed run at 240 volts, fast chargers tend to start at 150 kW with new chargers being installed with the capacity to reach 350 kW.

An alliance of automakers will be deploying about 400 fast charging stations across Europe by 2020. BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen with its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries in November formed a joint venture called IONITY to carry it out. The High-Power-Charging (HPC) network will install chargers that will have the capacity to go up to 350 kW and will use the brand-agnostic Combined Charging System as the standard. 

Europe just saw the first of its “ultra-fast” charging networks installed with the capacity to go up to 350 kW. Installed in Germany, it was the first of 21 that will be placed soon in the region. On December 21, Allego announced the installation of the first one in Kleinostheim near Frankfurt, Germany. Under the Ultra-E project, 21 stations will be installed throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

Gas stations still have an edge over EV charging by delivering a full tank of gas in five-to-10 minutes. EV chargers have taken much longer, making fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars a tough competitor.

The next-generation fast charger is expected to recharge electric cars for 200-to-300 miles of range with a 15-minute fast charge. That will certainly increase competition, especially if they’re widely available.

Oilprice.com is a USA TODAY content partner offering energy industry news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.​​​​​​​

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