Right before Thanksgiving, we posted a blog titled 3 Reasons To Use EVmatch This Thanksgiving Season. Did we want you to use our chargers? Of course. Did we also want you to avoid the hassle of jockeying for a place to charge and burning precious daylight? Absolutely. Fortunately, many EV drivers heeded our advice, but many more had a not-so-thankful holiday travel experience as they waited in long lines at Tesla Superchargers. A variety of news organizations covered these travel woes and it reminded us that the predominant narrative about EV charging does not tell the full story.
The need for more charging infrastructure is clear as day. Most major news outlets are persistent in framing it solely as a need for “faster” chargers, and while there’s no denying that DC fast chargers are an essential component of the landscape, the conversation needs to also be about more strategic placement of both Level 2 (240V) and DC fast chargers.
Fueling an EV is not like filling up a car with gas, so it’s plain to see that replicating the “gas station” model isn’t how we’re going to fully electrify transportation. Instead, we need a large variety of charging:
- We need a sufficient number of reliable chargers at hotels so travelers can easily plan for overnight charging.
- We need chargers at apartments and condos so tenants and their guests have a reliable place to charge at home.
- We need chargers at workplaces, co-working offices, businesses, churches, and shopping malls so daytime charging is just as easy as overnight home charging.
- And yes, we also need DC fast chargers along major highway corridors to support regional, interstate, and transcontinental travel.
Most major news articles also tend to point to carmakers as the entities responsible for building charging infrastructure, no doubt because of Tesla’s famous model. But this ignores a large part of what’s happening in the charging services industry.
Companies like Enel X, EVgo, ChargeHub, Flo, PlugShare, Chargepoint, and EVmatch are all increasing public charging infrastructure, either by actually manufacturing chargers and putting them in the ground or by bringing fresh ideas like EVmatch’s Airbnb of EV charging. Many of these charging companies are partnering with electric utilities and local and state governments to build charging infrastructure, including EVmatch, who has partnered with Vermont utilities Burlington Electric Department and Green Mountain Power to deploy charging at multi-unit dwellings and businesses.
The third narrative that dominates major news about EV charging – to the chagrin of Leaf and Bolt owners – is that it’s generally all about Tesla. Yes, there are over 400,000 Teslas on the road thanks to the surge in Model 3 sales, but there are also more than 700,000 non-Tesla EVs on U.S. roads today. News outlets are doing themselves and others a disservice by not covering the issues facing non-Tesla drivers or prospective drivers as well since they make up a majority of the EV community.
Around the holidays and other busy travel times, the increasing number of EVs will continue to create long lines at public chargers. Current EV owners and eager EV buyers should keep their eyes on what both carmakers and private charging companies are doing to build out more public charging infrastructure. Hopefully, news organizations will cover more of the charging industry than just Tesla and it’s Supercharger network so the public is better informed.
It’s also useful for EV advocates and owners to express their desire for more charging options where it makes sense for them. Condo tenants who want charging should let their governing boards know. We’ve seen tenants use SurveyMonkey (for free) to administer surveys to all co-tenants and determine levels of interest, then take the results to their HOA or condo association board for leverage. Hotel guests who want a reliable place to charge while traveling should let their hotels know. Workers should tell their employers that they want workplace charging as an essential amenity.
So should we wait until there’s enough money floating around for carmakers and governments to install DC fast chargers at $50-$100K per port as many reporters suggested after witnessing this Thanksgiving’s crowded charger scene? Probably not. We need to use our advocacy power as EV owners and EV enthusiasts to push for charging where it makes the most sense. You can also share your private charger on EVmatch to make it just a little bit easier for more people to drive electric right now.