Tightly knit network of charging stations will cure range angst

May 17, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The number of electric vehicle charging stations is set to soar globally by 2020, supporting a shift in driving away from traditional petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles, says a report from market research company IHS. The market watchers strongly advocate a unified charging system.

The report estimates that the swing to electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) will lead to the installation of 10.7 million charging stations globally by 2020, up from 135,000 in 2011. “Sales of hybrid and electric vehicles are set to continue apace over the next 10 years. While volumes may not reach the levels imagined in the hype of 2009, it is clear that there needs to be charging infrastructure in place to support this change in mobility,” says Alastair Hayfield, associate director at IMS Research, and the author of the report.

Current and potential charging technologies include high voltage direct current (DC) charging stations – utilized in two fast DC charging technologies CHAdeMO and Combined Charger Systems (CCS); the development of battery switching operations and charging station networks; and the potential future development of inductive (wireless) charging.

The report notes the existence of roadblocks to a global charging infrastructure system, particularly the existence of two distinct global standards for fast charging infrastructure: CHAdeMO and CCS. A universal charging system would simplify the implementation of charging infrastructure, likely leading to growth in the industry beyond the current state of early adopters of EV and PHEV technology. However, there are signs this roadblock is lifting as a number of charging station manufacturers are starting to offer products that are both CHAdeMO and CCS compliant.

The growth in charging stations should help allay consumer concern about “range anxiety”, which alongside vehicle price, is one of the major factors that impacts consumer sentiment about EVs. The largest concentration of EV charging stations would spring up in the US, China, Japan and Germany - these countries have strong domestic carmakers that are pursuing electric vehicles, public and private investment in charging infrastructure, and comparatively strong government leadership with regard to e-mobility.

A variety of factors are contributing to the shift from conventional vehicles to EVs and PHEVs, the report adds, including adoption