DETROIT – If the auto industry is to succeed in its bet that electric vehicles will soon dominate the roads, it will need to overcome a big reason why many people are still avoiding them – fear of running out of juice between Point A and Point B.
Automakers have sought to quell those concerns by developing EVs that go farther per charge and fill up faster. Problem is, most public charging stations now fill cars much too slowly, requiring hours – not minutes – to provide enough electricity for an extended trip.
Concerned that such prolonged waits could turn away potential EV buyers and keep them stuck on gas-burning vehicles, automakers are trying to cut charging times to something close to the five or 10 minutes of a conventional gasoline fill-up.
“It's absolutely the target to get faster and faster,” said Brett Smith, technology director at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank. “It's not there yet, but it's one of those things that moves the needle more toward a competitive vehicle for a lot of people.”
The latest generation of EVs, many with ranges around 300 miles per charge, can accept electricity much more quickly than previous models could. So fast, in fact, that most charging stations cannot yet accommodate the vehicles' advanced technology.
It can now require hours to fully charge an electric vehicle because most stations operate on a home-like alternating current. Direct-current fast-charging stations, by contrast, are hours faster. But they can cost tens of thousands of dollars more.
The high cost is something the Biden administration will have to consider as it develops incentives to encourage companies and governments to build 500,000 charging stations nationwide by 2030.
Among the possibilities being discussed are grants, with $15 billion in spending over five years to build the network, including fast chargers along highways and in communities. Details are being worked out as the administration negotiates its infrastructure plan with key members of Congress.