Why Adding Ultra-Fast EV Charging Is a Smart Move

A quick rollout of ultra-fast chargers–without costly utility upgrades in low-power areas–is in reach.

October 24, 2022

By Sarah Hamaker

This article is brought to you by ADS-TEC Energy, a NACS member.

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Convenience retailers have been hearing about the coming electric vehicle (EV) revolution for years. Today, buoyed by unprecedented industry and government support, consumer and fleet EVs are forecast to number more than 11.6 million by 2025, which is up from 6.7 million in 2021. These combined steps and support contribute to EVs becoming more cost effective and practical. This means the current demand for ultra-fast charging stations will accelerate further. Despite this, the U.S. still lags behind Europe in the number of EV chargers available to the public and EVs on the road.

That will likely change soon, given the Biden Administration’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (NEVI), which includes a goal of having EV chargers every 50 miles and no more than one mile off high-use corridors. “The logistics and cost of adding EV charging capabilities to their forecourt have pushed many retailers to abandon hope of being able to provide this service,” said John Tuccillo, global head of corporate and government affairs, ADS-TEC Energy. “However, technology advancements have eased many of the barriers convenience retailers face, opening up a potential revenue stream for the industry.”

This presents a golden opportunity for convenience retailers—including those that offer fuel—to provide ultra-fast EV charging stations—and the food and drinks that EV drivers want as they wait.

TECHNOLOGY BASICS

There are three levels of EV charging. Levels 1 and 2 are typically found in homes, as the charging stations use readily available AC power. Despite convenient install, these chargers take hours to fully charge a vehicle. Level 3—or Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC)—can charge up to 60-80% of a vehicle’s battery in approximately 30 minutes. That’s an improvement but still significantly longer than the 10 minutes or less a typical consumer would expect to spend at a traditional service station. On top of that, DCFC requires access to high-powered service (typically 300kW).

Additionally, installing the DCFC stations can create a triple-hit with large financial investments in installation and charging equipment, plus permit requests and weeks of disruption as forecourts are dug up to accommodate the chargers. Retailers also need to ensure their infrastructure provides access to high-powered service (typically 300kW). In many places, this means requesting (and paying for) the higher powered electrical service upgrades and extensions, which could take months and require additional digging and installation, followed by electrical rate hikes given the site demand increases.

“Even as EVs are becoming more widely available, the demand for fast, convenient charging is nowhere near being met,” said Tuccillo. “Part of the challenge lies in the existing electrical grid, which isn’t prepared to meet the need for high-output, fast-charging stations.”

Unless the charging station is installed near high-power transmission and distribution sources, or along a major freeway corridor, it’s likely limited in its ability to access the high-powered service necessary to offer what the EV industry refers to as fast charging.

One solution is ADS-TEC Energy’s battery-buffered, ultra-fast ChargeBox charging system, which can connect to the current low-to-medium-power grid most retailers operate on. This technology allows convenience stores to facilitate a transition to EVs in an economical way, so they can quickly ramp up to provide ultra-fast charging.

Learn more about ADS-TEC’s ChargeBox charging system, and how it can be added to convenience retail location in the NACS Magazine article “Why Adding Ultra-Fast EV Charging Is a Smart Move,” in the October issue.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer, NACS Magazine contributor, and romantic suspense author based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at sarahhamakerfiction.com.

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