What Comes First, EV Buyers or EV Infrastructure?

Electric vehicles have been on an upward curve for years, but an explosion in sales has always been prevented by the same old question: what comes first? EV customers or charging stations?

Some consumers won’t buy EVs because of range anxiety—fear the car will run out of charge before finding a charging station. There are too few charging stations (especially in highway corridors through the Midwest) in many places, worsening the fear being unable to find one when it’s needed. However, state and local governments, as well as individual investors, never saw the point in putting a lot of money in charging stations when there are too few EVs on the road to use them. The chicken or the egg argument effectively shut down electric vehicle growth for over a decade.

A recent boom in EV sales however may have finally moved the needle. According to Bloomberg Finance, back in April, financial insiders predicted sales of EVs would not drop as sharply as sales of gas-fueled vehicles during the pandemic. They were more than right—EV sales have actually increased. According to Forbes, car sales fell 89% in the U.K. in May, a catastrophic hit for any industry, however sales of EVs continued to climb by 21.5%. In the U.S., 27 out of 30 car manufacturers have lost money in 2020, but EV sales continue to surge.

13 Million

The Number of Charging Stations Needed by 2030

Industry experts estimate by 2030 there will be a need for 13 million charging stations. In the U.S., federal, state, and local governments are investing in EV infrastructure. In Massachusetts and Florida, rebates already in use are being expanded for corporations and non-profits. In Florida, Governor De Santis signed Senate Bill 7018, a bipartisan commitment to building EV infrastructure throughout the state. 

Meanwhile, California just began an initiative to make all trucks- from medium duty models to big rigs- electric by 2024, potentially causing enormous changes in the trucking industry. “California is once again leading the nation in the fight to make our air cleaner, becoming the first place in the world to mandate zero-emission trucks by 2045,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a Thursday statement.

According to SmartCitiesDive, the government should look at EVSE investment as an investment in public health. Infrastructure investment is already an important part of the pandemic recovery plan, including clean air initiatives. Particulate matter and tail pipe emissions in the atmosphere already cause allergies and asthma, but can turn fatal with dangerous respiratory diseases. Cutting down on pollution has already proven life-saving, and can be more so now.

Beyond public health, there is also an issue of EV infrastructure creating jobs when so many have been lost. “There’s absolutely a case for vehicle charging infrastructure to be part of the recovery,” says Matt Allen, chief executive officer at Pivot Power, a U.K. battery and charging developer. According to Bloomberg Financial, “Fast chargers demand large amounts of power in one location and the installation is difficult and expensive, he says. Government investment could help companies clear that hurdle, create much-needed jobs, and give the economy a further boost as the EV sector expands.”

Opportunities abound to include green transportation in recovery efforts, and bring clean transportation to more people.

Blink has announced a joint venture with Envoy Technologies, an EV ride-sharing service, to bring EVSE to apartments, hotels, and workplaces as an amenity. Since buses, taxis, and subways are potential hot-spots for infection, individual vehicles are a better choice, and Blink is enabling Envoy to bring power to EV drivers free of charge. Blink predicts potential deployment of up to 7,000 chargers within the next 5 years, 2,000 of which are expected within the next 12 months.

As the world continues to change, businesses and governments are seeing EVSE as a part of a plan for infrastructure recovery in a reborn economy.

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