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  • (pensive music)

  • - [Narrator] When President Biden test drove

  • a new electric vehicle from Ford, he liked what he saw.

  • - This sucker's quick.

  • - [Narrator] But the industry has a problem to solve

  • before consumers get onboard with EVs: charging.

  • Experts say the concerns over charging

  • are holding many drivers back

  • from switching to EVs.

  • That's sending companies on a race

  • to improve the nation's charging network.

  • - It takes public fast charging to sell cars.

  • People need the confidence to know

  • that they're gonna be able to do that.

  • - [Narrator] But building this new fleet of chargers

  • won't be cheap.

  • - There's very much a chicken or the egg problem

  • because you'll put chargers in the ground

  • but there's just not demand.

  • - [Narrator] Here's how charging

  • became the EV industry's bottleneck

  • and what some companies are going

  • to try and fix it.

  • (dramatic music)

  • Charging is a surprisingly complex issue

  • for the EV industry.

  • One of the main challenges

  • is that in many cases, it takes too long

  • to fill up the battery of a car.

  • The most satisfied EV owners,

  • according to J.D. Power,

  • are able to charge at home over night.

  • That can be done with the regular plugs in your home

  • but charging this way can take days

  • to full up a standard range vehicle.

  • The industry calls this level one charging.

  • Homeowners can upgrade

  • to a level two charger

  • but that can cost thousands of dollars to install

  • in some cases.

  • Then there are drivers who can't charge at home at all,

  • like many who live in apartments

  • and rely on publicly available chargers.

  • The research says

  • that this network needs improvement.

  • As of 2021, the US has roughly 41,000

  • of the faster level two stations available

  • to the public.

  • The Department of Energy says

  • that by 2030, the US will need 600,000

  • of these machines to meet expected demand.

  • Private companies like Revel are stepping in

  • to try and get ahead of these issues

  • by installing even faster level three stations.

  • This is Revel's first super hub in Brooklyn New York.

  • It's stocked with a direct current power station

  • to service level three chargers.

  • The industry calls these DC-fast chargers.

  • Paul Suhey, the company's co-founder,

  • says that this site is the largest fast charging depot

  • in the Americas.

  • - New York City has a major problem

  • and the problem is charging infrastructure

  • just simply does not exist.

  • It is a challenge to find a studio apartment

  • in New York City,

  • let alone a charging site

  • where you're talking about skyscraper levels of power.

  • - [Narrator] Revel says that its fast charging plugs

  • can provide 100 miles of range in about 20 minutes.

  • The company believes that its fast chargers

  • could ease the anxiety of EV ownership

  • for city dwellers who typically have to pay

  • to enter a public parking garage

  • before paying again for their charge.

  • - There's no pay wall.

  • You can access a charger for free,

  • which is very unique in New York City.

  • The second thing is just a massive site.

  • We're talking 25 chargers in one location.

  • It's just a much better user experience.

  • - [Narrator] Revel isn't the only company focused

  • on fast charging.

  • DC-fast stations are the quickest growing segment

  • of the EV charging market.

  • Tesla pioneered this technology in the 2010s

  • with its Supercharger network,

  • which has more than 25,000 stations worldwide

  • but Tesla's system doesn't work with hardware

  • from other manufacturers

  • and that represents another problem with EV charging.

  • Many of the systems on the market are incompatible.

  • In the US, companies are designing cars

  • that use different types of charging plugs,

  • which is creating problems for people looking to fill up.

  • That's fairly different from the customer experience

  • at gas stations.

  • In most cases, the nozzle at the pump

  • will fit the car.

  • That won't necessarily be the case for EVs.

  • The industry is using a standard plug shape

  • for level one and level two chargers

  • but there are three different plug shapes in use

  • on the newer, faster chargers.

  • Experts say that aside from Tesla,

  • companies are moving toward the combined charging system,

  • or a CCS.

  • But for now, drivers might need

  • to carry dongles to make sure

  • that their car works

  • with the charging ports that they have find.

  • That's a problem that companies like EVgo want to solve.

  • - Jonathan Levy, the company's chief commercial officer

  • says that their technical team is working

  • to make their chargers compatible

  • with all EVs on the market.

  • - We're currently in a process

  • where we're installing hundreds

  • of integrated Tesla connectors

  • at EVgo fast chargers around the country

  • because they're more than half the EVs being sold right now

  • and while other automakers are bringing more models

  • to market and will continue to penetrate,

  • Tesla drivers and EVs using CHAdeMO

  • and EVs using CCS all need access to charging.

  • - [Narrator] The company plans

  • to have installed 600 Tesla connectors

  • across its fleet by the end of 2021.

  • But in the race to make these new, compatible,

  • fast charging machines,

  • the costs for companies and consumers are adding up.

  • Industry experts say that building out a bigger

  • and faster fleet of chargers

  • is going to cost a lot of money upfront

  • before consumer demand picks up.

  • Researchers say that an installation of a level two charger

  • could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

  • But costs for the newer DC-fast stations

  • could stretch into the millions of dollars.

  • To cover these costs, EVgo partnered

  • with a special purpose acquisition company

  • to quickly raise funds

  • but red tape is slowing down the build out of its fleet.

  • - Cities and counties have really been hurt a lot

  • on a budget basis across the country,

  • especially in COVID

  • and so if you have a part-time permitting authority,

  • that can really slow things down.

  • When we think about how long it takes

  • to build a fast charging station,

  • it's anywhere from six to 18 months

  • with exceptions on either side of it

  • and it could be a lot quicker

  • if we were able to again streamline some of this

  • and work on getting the flywheel spinning

  • in this ecosystem.

  • (lively music)

  • - [Narrator] Some lawmakers in Washington believe

  • that the industry needs help.

  • - In answer to your direct question, we have a deal.

  • - [Narrator] A bipartisan group,

  • including the president and many senators

  • are calling for $7.5 billion

  • to build a network of chargers along highways

  • and in rural areas.

  • But even if public funding materializes,

  • the EV charging companies

  • have to navigate other bottlenecks,

  • like regulatory approvals

  • while the development costs pile up.

  • That could leave some EV owners searching

  • for a place to plug in for some time.

  • (pensive music)

(pensive music)

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How the EV Industry Is Trying to Fix Its Charging Bottleneck | WSJ

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    moge0072008 posted on 2021/07/23
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