2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car at EVgo fast-charging station, Newport Centre, Jersey City, NJ
Seven years and almost 800,000 cars after the first modern electric cars went on sale, there’s still a lot wrong with the national charging infrastructure in the U.S.
There’s little central planning, little standardized signage or public signposting, virtually no awareness among non-EV drivers, and roaming among networks with a single membership remains out of reach.
But still, usage of public charging stations rises every year.
Recent summaries of 2017 activity by two large charging networks, ChargePoint and EVgo, show healthy growth in use of their stations as they add more sites and customers.
ChargePoint, which supplies charging stations to individual and corporate property owners and manages the access and billing for them, released the 2017 version of its annual Charging Forward report (PDF) on February 6.
The network logged more than 1 million charging sessions a month last year, up from an average of 700,000 the previous year.
2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid charging at ChargePoint station, Santa Cruz, California, Dec 2017
Adding more than 1,000 new charging locations each month, the network entered 2018 with more than 45,000 charging locations, the bulk of them 240-volt Level 2 stations, which represented an increase of more than 10,000 sites over the 2016 total.
Simon Lonsdale, the company’s chief strategy officer, called 2017 “one of the most pivotal years for mobility in nearly a century,” alluding (we suspect) to China’s announcement that it would ban sales of new vehicles with combustion engines at some future date.
By 2020, the company said, it expects more than 3 million charging points to be available globally.
CHECK OUT: Chargeway: the best electric-car idea you’ve never heard of (Jun 2017)
Similarly, EVgo CEO Cathy Zoi called 2017 “an extremely successful year” for the network in a press release that noted in particular that it had added the 1,000th charging site to its network.
That addition was part of a 20-percent expansion covering a total of 66 separate markets across the U.S.
The company overall saw a record 1.1 million charging sessions, which powered a total of 40 million miles of electric driving—close to double the 22 million miles it saw in 2016.
The company said demand soared for public fast charging, demonstrated by an 83-percent increase in the energy it delivered to those electric cars last year even though sales of new plug-in vehicles grew just 26 percent.
Finally, EVgo said 10 percent of its energy was provided through partnerships with ride-sharing and zero-emission fleet customers, on top of its existing membership of individual plug-in vehicle owners.
Both ChargePoint and EVgo issued rosy predictions about the continued future growth of both plug-in electric car sales and the public charging infrastructure to support them.