The buildup of fast-charging stations will be important if electric vehicle sales will continue to grow. And they're coming soon, in a big way.
Tesla is already expanding their EV supercharger infrastructure to make sure its Model S users can charge quickly while on the road. But, according to a new report from IHS Automotive, the number of fast-charging EV stations will expand by more than 100 times by 2020.
At the end of 2012, there were only about 1,800 fast-charging stations globally. At the end of this year that total is expected to jump to 5,900 and 15,200 in 2014. By 2020, the total will reach 199,000.
“The length of time it takes to recharge an EV continues to be one of the major stumbling blocks inhibiting the widespread adoption of electric vehicles,” said Alastair Hayfield, associate research director at IHS Automotive, in a statement. “Compared to the time it takes to refuel an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, the recharge time for EVs is incredibly slow—at about four hours to charge a 24 kilowatt-hour (kWh)-capacity battery using a 6.6 kW on-board charger. If EV auto manufacturers could overcome this obstacle, it could lead to a high rate of adoption from environmentally minded consumers as well as those seeking to cut gasoline expenses. That’s where fast charging comes in.”
Using a high-voltage DC charger, EVs can be charged in as little as 20 minutes, compared to slower AC chargers. The question is which fast-charging system will become standard. Other than Tesla's superchargers, there are two main players. The first, called CHAdeMO is backed by the likes of Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi. About 80 percent of all electric vehicles on the road are compatible with the CHAdeMO system. The other, called a combined charging system (CCS) has the support of Audi, BMW, Daimler, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Porsche and Volkswagen.
But which system will prevail is less important than the need to actually build up the fast-charging infrastructure.