The U.S. is one of the only first-world countries that’s still hesitant about electric cars. Electric cars are present in the U.S. but they’re being held back in American society as there’s not enough EV chargers to go around, even with companies like Tesla, Ford, GM, and Volkswagen selling their cars in the U.S.
The problem is that different chargers fill up electric cars’ batteries differently. For example, in his article “Chargers Are the Final Roadblock to America’s Electric Car Future” on Bloomberg, Kyle Scott makes a point about how the only charger that’s sufficient with his Jaguar I-Pace was the one he had back home. When he pulled up to charging station in Honesdale, he was smart enough to notice that ‘it was a level 2 unit-one step above a standard outlet. It would take four hours before the car had enough juice to make the 100-mile-trip home.” (Bloomberg.com)
Because of this, America is unprepared for Tesla and its rivals to hit the streets.
There are currently only three types of chargers on the market, according to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. They are:
- Level 1: Provides charging through a 120 V AC plug and does not require installation of additional charging equipment. Can deliver 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging. Most often used in homes, but sometimes used at workplaces.
- Level 2: Provides charging through a 240 V (for residential) or 208 V (for commercial) plug and requires installation of additional charging equipment. Can deliver 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging. Used in homes, workplaces, and for public charging.
- DC Fa Charge: Provides charging through 480 V AC input and requires highly specialized, high-powered equipment as well as special equipment in the vehicle itself. (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles typically do not have fast charging capabilities.) Can deliver 60 to 80 miles of range in 20 minutes of charging. Used most often in public charging stations, especially along heavy traffic corridors.
Now, someone with an electric car can always find an EV charger somewhere in downtown Seattle, or by the airport at LAX. But that’s not the problem. While urban city centers have easy access, people looking for EV chargers outside those areas would have to travel miles to find just one charger to tide them over until the next one. For those that live in these situations, they’ve dubbed them “charger deserts” for how far they have to travel for a charge.
Not only that, the chargers that one can find out there aren’t suited for a quick charge on an empty battery. Most chargers available only cater to those who are commuting a short distance, not those that travel halfway across a state to get to their next destination. If you pulled up a map of where to find a DC Fa Charger, or Level 3 charger, they’re even more widely spread out than the previous charger levels.
“Most modern chargers and vehicles have a standard connector and receptacle, called the SAE J1772. Any vehicle with this plug receptacle can use any Level 1 or Level 2 EVSE. All major vehicle and charging system manufacturers support this standard, so your vehicle should be compatible with nearly all non-fast charging workplace and public chargers.” (Vehicle Charging, EERE)
In the article “’Charger Desert’ in Big Cities Keeps Electric Cars from Mainstream” by Lawrence Ulrich, Jonathon Spira discusses how if you don’t live somewhere with EV chargers in the direct vicinity, then it’s impractical to buy an electric car. Residents that lived in Spira’s Bay Club condominiums in Queens lobbied for more EV chargers, but discussions kept being held back by charger locations, paying for electricity, and other points.
Because of this, companies that want to sell their electric cars might hesitate to import their cars to the U.S. in favor of other countries that already have a standing population of EV chargers waiting for them.
If the U.S. wants to profit off of companies that want to market their electric cars, then more EV chargers compatible with different cars should be more available across the country.
If you want to read more about EV chargers and cars, check out these links: