One electric car data point may reveal a major hurdle toward adoption

At CES 2023, industry experts dug into how electric car charging could face a major issue.
Mike Brown
Electric car charging
Electric car charging

Scharfsinn86/iStock 

Early data from electric cars could shape broader adoption — and it could leave people without parking spots left behind.

At the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2023) in Las Vegas, industry representatives explained how governments and businesses can spur electric car adoption by providing adequate access to charging points. Adam Woolway, head of EV for parking space data provider Parkopedia, explained that current electric car owners charge at home around 80 percent of the time.

The data suggests that, because people charge at home most of the time, public chargers aren't as necessary as they may seem — those owners will charge at home anyway. But electric car owners without a driveway or other reliable place to charge may find themselves sidelined, as businesses look at the data and conclude that there are diminishing returns from building lots of empty chargers.

Data from the United States' Department of Energy found in 2017 that around 63 percent of housing units have a garage or carport. The other third of Americans may find themselves left behind, and there aren't clear solutions.

"I don't know the answer, but I think it comes down to deeper relationships and better offers between the utility companies and the homeowners," Woolway told Interesting Engineering at CES 2023.

Woolway explained that this issue could mean that electric car owners without a driveway could end up paying much more than those who do. That's because people who charge at home are able to use potentially favorable energy prices from their home bills, or even solar energy generated by their own panels.

Owners without these solutions, on the other hand, have to use public chargers all the time. That means those owners will have to pay the fees decided by the operator.

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When expanding infrastructure, governments will have to consider owners that are more dependent on public chargers than others.

Public chargers: A small yet vital part

While most charging may happen at home or at the office, Woolway stresses that public chargers play an important role in reducing range anxiety.

"What public charging does is provide this real comfort blanket," Woolway said.

At CES 2023 earlier in the day, Steve Greenfield, founder and CEO of venture capital firm Automotive Ventures, cited data from OC&C Strategy. It found that 60 percent of potential electric car owners had concerns about range anxiety, the most commonly-cited concern in surveys. Around 50 percent also cited the availability of electric car chargers as a concern.

Public chargers may end up being used far less than other chargers, but they will be vital for electric car adoption — especially if new EV sales hope to outpace traditional cars in the U.S. by 2030.