A charging port is seen on a Mercedes Benz EQC 400 4Matic electric vehicle at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 13, 2019.
Mark Blinch | Reuters
There’s a looming problem with the auto industry’s grand EV plans.
Automakers are spending huge sums to bring a slew of new electric vehicles to market over the next few years. Ford Motor alone expects to spend more than $50 billion through 2026 to ramp up EV production around the world. General Motors said it will spend $35 billion through 2025, and Volkswagen said it expects to spend almost $200 billion on EVs and related software through 2028.
But Americans are still hesitant to buy in, and largely because of concerns around charging.
Survey after survey has shown that worries about charging — specifically, public charging — is holding buyers back from electric vehicles.
A June study by Cox Automotive found that 32% of consumers who were considering an EV cited a “lack of charging stations in my area” as a barrier to purchase. A Consumer Reports study in April found that “charging logistics” and “purchase price” were the two biggest factors holding consumers back. And an April poll by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 47% of U.S. adults said it’s not likely they would buy an EV as their next car, with nearly 80% saying that a lack of charging stations was a factor.
Despite the United Auto Workers’ concerns about Detroit’s transition to EVs, and the union’s ongoing strike, there’s a groundswell forming to expand and improve the U.S. charging landscape. President Joe Biden has pushed the issue, working with Congress to deliver major incentives to improve public charging, and rival automakers have struck rare partnerships to help establish a single charging standard and reduce pain points for EV drivers.
But the question remains, how long — and how severely — will charging hamper the EV revolution, right as its finally picking up steam?
Public charging stations aren’t quite like gas stations, in the sense that many EV owners only use them occasionally. Most EV owners do most of their charging at home, with a Level 2 home charger provided by the automaker or a third party.
That won’t work for everyone, of course. And even EV owners who charge at home use public chargers on occasion.
Some EV motorists charge at work. Workplaces that have…