This is a revised version of a previous feature story.

Battery electric vehicles are one of the pillars for a new era of transportation and mobility.  We are already beginning to see the early stages of a massive shift.  Some initiatives, including ICE bans, bans on new gasoline stations, zero-emissions zones, and other sweeping regulations, suggest the possibility of a rapid phase-out of our reliance on fossil-fuel vehicles.  Because of this, electric vehicles are becoming increasingly important in the portfolios of automakers worldwide. Electric vehicles are also becoming more popular among consumer markets.  As EVs become more common on roadways, they are also beginning to influence infrastructure.

One of the most critical enablers for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is the availability of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).  Currently, there are three main types of EVSE: Level 1 chargers, Level 2 chargers, and DC Fast Chargers (DCFC).  Level 1 chargers are designed to serve one vehicle per day and fully charge an EV battery in 18-24 hours. Level 2 chargers can provide (close to) full power in 6-8 hours. In contrast, a DCFC can provide the same amount of power in under one hour.

Due to their slow charging speeds, Level 1 systems are used mainly for residential (and workplace) applications, especially for smaller batteries. Level 2 is useful for residential, public, and workplace installations. DCFC is intended for non-residential use but does have some inherent drawbacks despite its apparent convenience. Installation is costly, the energy requirements can be challenging for distribution providers, and there is some indication that DCFC may contribute to quicker battery degradation.  Therefore, DCFC may not be the go-to solution for many EV charging situations. While DCFC will continue to proliferate, Level 2 chargers currently make up most ESVE installations and will likely do so going forward.

The shift to BEV is happening—fast, and the EVSE is a great enabler. Helping people understand the charging ecosystem is the challenge—and opportunity—for all stakeholders.

Emeka Nriagu

Research Analyst

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