Electric vehicle (EV) charging is the process of connecting an EV to a source of electricity to recharge its battery for future use.
In 2020, estimates put the EV charging station market at $24.16 billion. With the rise in EV purchases helped by government incentives and improving EV technologies, the market is forecast for considerable growth. Estimates suggest by 2028, the EV charging station market will reach $111.9 billion.
While often used interchangeably, an EV charging pool is a location with one or more charging stations; a charging station can contain one or more charging points, and although it may contain different outlet types, a charge point (also known as EVSE - Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) delivers power to one car at a time.
In September 2021, the US had a total of nearly 43,000 public EV charging stations and roughly 120,000 charging ports, according to the US Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center. California has almost the same amount of charging stations as the lowest thirty-nine states combined. According to European Alternative Fuels Observatory data, the European Union has nearly 275,000 EV charging ports. These numbers equate to sixty-two and thirty-seven charging points per 100,000 inhabitants in the EU and the US, respectively.
In December 2021, the US government announced a federal strategy to reduce the cost of electric cars, including 500,000 new charging stations. President Bidens's infrastructure bill sets aside $5 billion for states to build new charging stations.
EV charging is separated into three levels, based on the rate of power delivered to the vehicle's battery. This determines the time it takes to charge an EV. Older EVs may no longer be compatible with higher-level (faster) EV charging stations. In North America, Level 1 and 2 charging use the same connector called J1772 or the J-plug. There are currently three standard chargers in use for level 3 charging.
The Tesla Supercharger network is a proprietary network built by Tesla for use by their customers only.
Level 1 charging uses a common 120-volt household outlet. Level 1 charging is compatible with every electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid by plugging the charging equipment into a regular wall outlet. Level 1 is the slowest way to charge an EV. It adds between 3 and 5 miles of range per hour.
Level 1 charging is more suited to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) with smaller batteries (less than 25 kWh). For EVs with larger batteries, level 1 charging is too slow for daily charging unless the vehicle is only needed for short journeys each day.
Level 2 is the most commonly used level for daily EV charging, and level 2 charging equipment can be installed at home, at the workplace, as well as in public locations. Level 2 charging adds between 12 and 80 miles of range per hour, depending on the power output of the level 2 charger and the vehicle’s maximum charge rate.
Most EV owners choose to install level 2 charging equipment at their residence because it charges the vehicle up to 10 times faster than level 1 charging. Charging from a level 2 source usually means the vehicle will be completely charged overnight, even from a nearly empty battery.
Level 3 charging is the fastest type of charging available, recharging an EV at a rate of 3 to 20 miles of range per minute. Level 3 charging uses direct current (DC), unlike level 1 and level 2 charging that uses alternating current (AC). The voltage used is also much higher than level 1 and 2 charging, making equipment difficult to install at home as very few residential locations have the high-voltage supply required for level 3 charging. Additionally, DC Fast Chargers cost tens of thousands of dollars. Tesla calls their Level 3 chargers Superchargers; others are called DC Fast Chargers. Current Nissan EVs use a third specification, CHAdeMO.
EV charging stations require significant hardware to be manufactured and installed. The EV charging station is comprises of the following components:
- Electric vehicle charger
- Power grid
- Facility meter
- Energy controller
- Network operating center
- Other relevant components
The power storage system at an EV charging station consists of three main components: battery, power conversion system, and software.
EV charging station hardware companies
EV charging software is an integral part of EV charging infrastructure. It helps operators and e-mobility service providers manage EV charging stations and their customers. These are some of the key features of the EV charging software:
- connection and monitoring of the charger
- automatic fault detection
- live meter display
- billing and payments
- cost tracking
- user management
- interactive dashboard
EV charging station software companies
The table below shows a list of vendors who manage electric charging stations around the world.
EV charging station vendors
A range of APIs are available that allow users to retrieve data (location, connector type, opening hours, etc.), often in real time, to help manage charging EVs.