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If You Build Infrastructure, EVs Will Come

I have long been saying if we want EVs (electric vehicles) to truly take off, then we need to build the infrastructure. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this topic by taking a historical look dating back more than a century.

In January 1886, a patent was filed for a vehicle powered by a gas engine. Mercedes paints the picture of the patent—number 37435—which may be regarded as the birth certificate of the automobile. In July 1886, the newspapers reported on the first public outing of the three-wheeled Benz Patent Motor Car, model no. 1. Here was the challenge at the time. Some roads were brick, but many were a muddy mess—not ideal for using this new high-end invention.

The rise of concrete highways in the United States came more than two decades later, when the United States built a 9-ft. wide, 24-mile long, 5-in. thick strip of pavement constructed in 1913—roughly five years after Ford introduced its Model T. The bottomline here is simply we needed new infrastructure to take advantage of more modern vehicles.

Flash forward, more than a century later and we are in nearly a similar position. We have the advanced technology that is offered to us in electric vehicles, but the rollout of the infrastructure has been slow—that is until now.

We are beginning to see more charging stations that are being rolled out by both public and private entities. As one example, the Fisker and ChargePoint collaboration will make it easier to find reliable charging. Together the companies will provide Fisker EV owners with access to more than 210,000 active ports under management, with more than 16,700 DC fast charge ports and more than 400,000 roaming ports.

For those who might not know, Fisker’s all-electric SUV travels up to 350 miles on a single charge, with dual-motor, all-wheel drive, and three driving modes. Now, the two companies plan to make it easy for drivers to access ChargePoint’s network of Level 2 and DC fast chargers, and roaming partner stations. The companies say this will reach more than 80% of public charging spots in North America.

Fisker Ocean drivers can find ChargePoint and roaming partner charging stations within the Fisker Ocean’s navigation system and through the ChargePoint mobile app. In the beginning, drivers can use the app and the Fisker Ocean’s central touchscreen to search for and navigate to charging stations, filter search for DC fast charge locations, do basic EV route planning, and calculate arrival times at charging stops.

While this is simply one example, we are seeing the rise of EV charging infrastructure accelerate in the past year. If you followed Project Sustainability Podcast at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, then you know we did an entire series on EVs—everything from next-gen vehicles, to electric school buses here in South Carolina, to the South Carolina NEVI (National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure) plan and how it is a federal source of money to support the placement of EV charging.

In fact, Rob Bedenbaugh, director of engineering support, South Carolina Dept. of Transportation, spoke with me about the billions nationally that is going to be doled out to the various state DOTs (departments of transportation) around the country to support placement of EV charging on the national network.

While there are still hurdles we face, there is also progress being made. What are you seeing in your area? Is there more EV charging infrastructure available?

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