Developing a nationwide charging network takes coordination across industries

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For long-distance travel, a 20-minute stop to charge requires a change in mindset by mass-market consumers conditioned to fueling in just minutes at gas stations.

“There needs to be an acknowledgment that the way in which people will dwell at these stations and the general time it takes is different,” said Graham Evans, director of the supply chain and technology group at S&P Global Mobility.

Charging company leaders believe consumers will adapt. But until consumers drive EVs, they won’t understand the fueling difference, said ChargePoint’s Loewenthal. When charging options are consistent and drivers get into the habit of parking and charging, EV adoption will increase, he said.

Consumers shouldn’t expect a gas station experience, he said. “The use model is way different. Typically, you’re seeing folks adopt EVs when they know they have a place to charge consistently.”

Companies that host charging sites — such as retailers, restaurants and travel centers — are critical for transforming the way drivers think about powering their vehicles on the road, he said.

They will have “amenities you’d want because you’ve got to fuel yourself as well as fuel the vehicle,” Loewenthal said.

But some industry observers are skeptical that consumers will adjust to a longer refill.

Battery and charging technology need to advance for faster charging, but until then, mass-market consumers are unlikely to change, said Mark Barrott, a principal in Plante Moran’s automotive practice.

“Current fueling speed has to be the baseline for what an EV mass-market driver will put up with,” he said.

Usually, a new technology or product must offer a tenfold improvement for consumers to change their behavior, said Kristin Slanina, mobility expert at Fast Future Fundamentals, a professional development company, and chief innovation officer for fleet logistics company ParkMyFleet.

“We’re not even close to that in terms of filling up your car versus charging your EV,” she said.

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