Would we need to build as many electric vehicle charging stations as we have gas stations to power the same number of electric vehicles?

No. Remember that there’s only one way to fuel gas cars: by pumping gasoline at a gas station. Electric vehicles, in contrast, can fuel wherever there’s either 1) electricity; or 2) sunshine and solar panels to capture it, like a solar canopy.

solar_feature.jpg

Unlike gas cars, electric vehicles can fuel (recharge with electricity) at home every night. According to a study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, today 56% of US households have access to home charging.  68% of commutes in the US are less than 15 miles each way, and 89% are less than 35 miles. Accordingly, 80% of electric vehicle charging is done at home -- public charging stations are used only on long road trips.

Home charging is spreading to multi-family housing, too. States and cities are incorporating EV charging infrastructure requirements into their residential building codes. California’s Green Building Standards Code contains measures to ensure new multi-family developments are ready for EV charging infrastructure. Atlanta and San Francisco have passed “EV readiness” ordinances for new multi-unit developments. The city of Palo Alto requires that every unit of a new multi-family development have its own charger.

On average, our cars are parked and not in use 95% of the time. During that time, EVs can be fueling as long as there’s an electrical outlet nearby. This doesn’t require building new fueling stations; electricity is already everywhere. A growing number of employers are providing workplace EV charging for their employees. Supermarkets and warehouse stores are installing EV charging in their parking lots. The city of London is even adding electrical chargers on its street lights.

ev-charging-station-installation.jpg

One area in which EV charging will likely need to follow the gas station model is long distance travel. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 6.8 fast chargers would be needed for every 1,000 EVs. This infrastructure is already being developed. The West Coast Electric Highway has hundreds of fast charging stations, enabling easy EV travel from Southern California to British Columbia. And seven other Western states are developing highway charging infrastructure along their major corridors. As part of VW’s settlement of its fraudulent diesel emissions scheme, Volkswagen will spend $2 billion on additional charging infrastructure in the US, including 240 fast-charging stations along highway corridors.

Shell Oil is adding EV charging at its gas stations, and planning for 20% of its fuel revenues to come from EV charging stations and low carbon fuels by 2025. If other oil companies follow suit, we may not need to build many new EV charging stations at all.