By Sara Counihan
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—With $7.5 billion being invested by the federal government in EV charging infrastructure, it’s important to ask some basic questions on the endeavor, such as how many chargers will be needed, as well as when, where and what type. John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, joined the NACS Convenience Matter podcast this week to talk about what the realistic demand for EV chargers looks like for the next 10 years.
Eichberger explains that there are many reports about electric vehicles and how tremendous their impact will be on the U.S. economy, but the reality is much more complicated. The Fuels Institute recently released a report, “EV Charger Deployment Optimization” that discusses EV charging demand in the near future.
“This newest report on charger deployment optimization [provides] some more granular insights so that we can make long term strategic decisions that benefit the environment at the same time, work in the market and benefit consumers,” said Eichberger. “We’re hopeful that this study provides some insight so that that money is invested and delivers the greatest value to society it possibly can.”
Looking to the future of EV penetration, there have been some large consulting firms that have said over the past year that half of all vehicles sold by 2023 will be electric, but Eichberger disagrees with these groups.
Eichberger said those projections do not consider the uncertainties of the market and what would happen if there is a global recession, if EV prices don’t come down as projected or if the war in Russia and Ukraine continues, which would limit access certain raw materials needed for batteries and other components.
“So much uncertainty, so much unknown that to put forth a forecast that half of [vehicle sales] will be [EVs] is completely irresponsible in my opinion,” he said.
The Fuels Institute partnered with S&P Global Mobility on the new report, and they project 2.8 million plug-in electric vehicles will be sold in 2030, which would be about 16-17% of vehicles, or a threefold increase over today of new vehicles.
“We’re going to see EVs have a huge role in the market, but it’s … going to take time,” said Eichberger. “[The] aspirational forecasts are interesting, but we need to take it with a major grain of salt because they’re just forecasts, and we don’t know how the uncertainties are going to play out.”
The report also finds that by 2030, 76% of all EVs will be in 15 states.
“When we start thinking about where we need to put chargers, you’ve got to put chargers where the EVs are, where demand is,” he said.
The study also looked at a census track level, which according to Eichberger “is about as granular as you can get,” and it looked at a variety of factors to determine the charger demand at that level of community to optimize where EV chargers need to be focused.
“That’s going to be critical because we want to build the infrastructure to support the drivers in a way that’s economic, responsible and sustainable and understanding where the vehicles are and where the vehicle’s going to be driven is going to be critical to doing that,” said Eichberger.
Listen to this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 352 “A Deep Dive Into Effective EV Infrastructure Expansion,” to hear how the latest Fuels Institute report adds clarity to the EV market and is a guide on how the industry can be as efficient with government money, or everybody’s money, as possible. Plus find out what study finding absolutely surprised Eichberger.
The Fuels Institute is headlining two EV-related education sessions at the 2022 NACS Show, October 1-4 in Las Vegas. These include: EV Economics: Fact vs. Fiction and Reality of EV Transitions. Register today to attend the NACS Show.
Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Magazine and NACS Daily. She can be reached at [email protected].