Welcome (back) to the electric era. In 1900, a third of the cars on the roads in New York City, Boston, and Chicago were electric. Today in the US it’s less than 1%. But sales, relatively speaking, are soaring: 130,000 new electric vehicles (EVs) hit the road last year, a 700% jump since 2011.
All those batteries will need juice, so charging infrastructure is surging as well. University of Michigan researchers using data from the Department of Energy in a June 15 report (pdf) counted 16,000 public charging stations in the U.S (with nearly 43,000 individual charging connectors or plugs). That compares to 112,0000 gasoline stations in the US as of 2015.
Most of these are slower charger stations with standard power connections, but about 13% are high-voltage, fast chargers using DC current to refill a battery in about 20 to 30 minutes. California, Texas, Florida, and New York are ahead of the competition with at least 500 stations each. China, which plans to have 800,000 charging points nationwide soon, is leading the world.
The number of public EV charging stations in the US may not outnumber fossil fuel outlets for decades, mostly because they will be unnecessary. “Refilling” will be a chore only for EV owners without garages or for those making long distance drives along highways. The future of the fill-up is probably plugging in at home or work.