Out in Public

These EV charging improvements are key to consumer adoption of electric vehicles.

October 07, 2021

Electric Vehicle Charging

CHICAGO—Public charging is a significant part of the EV ownership experience. The ability for EV owners to charge their vehicles conveniently is a key factor in the broader adoption of EVs. In this week’s episode of Carpool Chats, Fuels Institute Executive Director John Eichberger speaks with Brent Gruber, senior director of global automotive with J.D. Power, to learn more about the tangibles that consumers are looking for with their EV ownership experience.

J.D. Power released a new report, "U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Public Charging Study," that dives into the public charging experience.

“One thing that came through loud and clear with the research we did was the convenience factor,” said Gruber. “The [consumers] that are responding well to public charging are those that have a convenient experience with things to do nearby.”

Furthermore, according to Gruber, the level of amenities nearby when someone is charging was one of the top findings of the report.

“I can't tell you how many responses we saw from survey takers who were indicating that the charging station they were at was in the middle of nowhere, and there was nothing to do while they were charging,” said Gruber. “So having restaurants nearby, shopping, those kinds of things, that's really going to be key to adding that convenience factor.”

Another factor in EV adoption is downtime while waiting for a charging station to open at a convenience store. Battery electric vehicles have just a 3% U.S. retail share right now, but an uptick is expected, said Gruber, and once that number hits 30-40%, it becomes more problematic.

“We're not doing a good enough job of maintaining or managing the existing charging stations that exist, and that's going to become much more problematic when we hit that adoption curve,” said Gruber.

In addition to well-maintained existing chargers, Gruber said that consumers are going to expect the EV charging time to be similar to filling up an internal combustion engine vehicle. Gruber said in order to maintain that same consumer level of satisfaction with charging time, EV charging has to be as quick as filling up with fuel.

“If it's a charge, it's going to have to be a similar level of time to maintain satisfaction or not hurt satisfaction. And so, working backwards from that fill-up time, if you will, is really going to dictate what we need from a technology standpoint.”

Gruber also mentions that filling up an EV from empty to full is not realistic, as many of consumers don’t always fill up their ICE vehicles completely.

“You're not charging from zero to 100 every time you charge. You're using a little bit of your battery life, and then you top it off or you plug it in at night or you top it off around town,” said Gruber. “So, this whole mentality of needing to charge from zero to 100 every time you charge is not realistic.”

Tune into this week’s episode “Consumer Preferences for Public EV Charging Stations” to hear Gruber and Eichberger discuss how 85% of the registered EVs are found in 15 states in the U.S. and what it’s actually going to take to get mass adoption. They also talk about how EVs are like rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s, how manufacturers are all in on EVs with no turning back and, of course, Tesla.