Public charging for electric vehicles makes up only 10 percent of the charging pie, according to a new report from Recargo and PlugInsights.
The 2013 U.S. PEV Charging Study examined the opinions of more than 3,700 plug-in drivers who get behind the wheel of 17 different vehicle makes and models.
Although public charging is the least-frequent type of charging, the study authors confirmed what others have found anecdotally: drivers want more DC quick charging. Whether there will actually be more, however, is yet to be seen.
There has been a shakeup recently in the charging world, with Siemens ditching its public EV charging business and ECOtality declaring bankruptcy. For both companies, the bulk of their public charging business was focused on Level 2 chargers, not DC fast chargers.
Fast chargers, which can charge car batteries in as little as 30 minutes, make up about 3 percent of the more than 12,000 public chargers now available in the U.S. Though fast chargers represent only a fraction of available chargers, nearly half of all drivers with long-range battery electric vehicles reported having used a quick charger in the past 30 days, as well as about one-third of mid-range EV drivers. Both types of drivers used them more than once, with the mid-range drivers averaging 3.4 times in a month.
“Until fast charging becomes broadly available, mid-range battery electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF are trapped on a leash, close to home,” PlugInsights’ managing director, Norman Hajjar, said in a statement.
“Our data shows the average longest trip mid-range BEV drivers have ever taken is only 96 miles. They never stray too far from home because it’s just not practical to stop at a slow Level 2 charging station and plug in for 4+ hours mid-journey. Our data suggests drivers do this only when they absolutely have to," he added. "Until fast chargers can bridge the gap between distant points, the appeal of these vehicles to a broader audience will be limited.”
One challenge, however, may be the price of DC fast chargers. Fast chargers are far more expensive than Level 2 chargers, and the majority of EV drivers are seeking out free public chargers. One solution could be the approach that some retail outlets are adopting, in which the first segment of charging is free but the rest comes at a cost.