In the 1928 election, before the Great Depression hit the United States, President Herbert Hoover’s campaign vision of American prosperity was one with “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”
Things did not exactly turn out that way. But fast-forward almost 100 years, and we have several cars and much more than chicken in every pot. In the not-so-distant future, there could be a different type of car in every garage: an electric vehicle (EV).
With a heightened worldwide focus on sustainability and possibly new incentives and encouragement from policymakers, there could be quite a few more EVs on the road within the next decade.
As EVs become increasingly common, there is demand for more charging stations. Charging stations will affect the viability of EVs as a sustainable means of getting around town and traveling long distances while producing zero emissions and providing many other advantages. If you’re an electrical contractor, it’s a great time to fix your radar on the bloom of EVs and the required charging infrastructure.
Pasquale Romano is certainly bullish on the idea. Romano is president and CEO of ChargePoint, Campbell, Calif., a leading producer of EV charging stations. As the company sits at the forefront of a possible nationwide outfitting with EV charging stations, he has good reason to be optimistic.
“The United States is in the midst of a fundamental transformation of our transportation sector, with consumers, businesses, fleets and automakers embracing the transition to EVs,” Romano said in a company statement.
An upward cadence of EVs?
According to research conducted by Coherent Market Insights, Seattle, increased production of EVs across the global automotive industry will stimulate the market for charging stations. They cite a 2019 report by Edmunds that noted 325,000 EVs were sold in the United States in 2002 by Tesla. However, Tesla’s production of EVs surpassed 1 million units in 2020. Manufacturers are focused on producing EVs with benefits beyond environmental protection while trying to gain the interest of global consumers.
With this upward cadence of EVs, new charging station construction and installations are sure to see a boost. While we currently see public charging stations at national parks, state rest stops and certain parking lots, we can look forward to finding more charging stations in places such as commercial office buildings and retailers. An owner’s work and shopping time can become their car’s charging time.
EV charging technology
EV charging is improving in several areas. New technology can charge a vehicle faster and can potentially provide it with a longer range—the distance it can go before needing a recharge.
Different options for how a vehicle may be charged are becoming available. It may require an AC or DC plug, and wireless charging is within the realm of possibilities.
Motorcar Parts of America Inc., Torrance, Calif., recently announced that one of its subsidiaries developed a high-power DC emulator, which would serve as an EV charger supported by Fremont, Calif.-based Delta Electronics Inc.’s automotive division and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The charger is expected to have up to a 400 kilowatt (kW) capacity to provide an approximately 180-mile range for EVs in less than 10 minutes of charging time. The bidirectional battery emulator plays a key role in the development of this extreme charging system by allowing engineers to test multiple input voltages and varying loads along with simulated vehicle-to-grid scenarios.
“Fast charging is critical to expediting adoption rates for EVs,” said Dr. Charles Zhu, Delta Electronics’ vice president of sales and product development and head of automotive business, and the principal investigator in the Department of Energy program, in a statement released by the company. “We are excited to utilize the battery emulator to test all 400 kW charging conditions with 200V–1,000V charging voltage ranges that encompass all EVs currently in the market.”
It seems that now is the time to prepare for a wave of construction that will keep workers busy and contractors engaged in building out charging stations—especially if President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, awaiting congressional approval, is successful.
According to a White House statement, charging station development and installation is likely to provide abundant opportunities for electrical contractors: “Charger installation and maintenance create good-paying union jobs right here in America that cannot be outsourced, and the American Jobs Plan also includes incentives to bring more charging equipment manufacturing to the United States.”