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California Lags in DC Fast-Charging Station Density for Electric Vehicles

9737 Views 38 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  GJETSON
Despite its reputation for being electric vehicle (EV) friendly, California lags behind other North American states and provinces in the density of non-Tesla EV fast-charging stations relative to population. California ranks fifth behind Oregon, Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario, but ahead of Washington State. Oregon has 1.7 times more stations relative to its population than the muc
h more populous Golden State.

Most EVs, including Teslas, charge at home. However, DC fast-charging stations are needed by EVs for intercity and regional trips. Tesla operates its own extensive network of fast charging stations designed for intercity travel. Non-Tesla EVs use a patchwork of fast-charging stations that are often concentrated in large urban areas unless policy directed the stations elsewhere.

British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon, and California are partners in the West Coast Electric Highway that would allow an EV to drive from Mexico to Canada along the Interstate 5 corridor. However, California never completed its portion of the network until recently. California instead focused on urban areas, leaving much of the state devoid of fast-charging stations needed for intercity trips.

The absence of a robust non-Tesla DC fast-charging network for intercity travel may have inhibited the growth of EVs for more than just urban commuting in California. Tesla early on identified the need for a comprehensive network of fast-charging stations along major travel corridors as a prerequisite for EV adoption. See A Canadian Take on Tesla's Supercharger Network for an insightful analysis of this question.

Parts of California are still not served by DC fast-charging stations. After a much later start than other regions, the California Energy Commission (CEC) now expects to complete its network of fast-charging stations along major highways by 2020. The CEC's program--two large awards currently underway--would still leave areas of the state underserved, such as the East Side of the Sierra Nevada. There's a dearth of public, non-Tesla chargers of any kind along US 395 from Mojave to Bridgeport on the East Side. There are neither DC fast-charging stations nor any public Level 2 stations.

However, two separate programs could add stations to more remote areas. As part of its diesel-gate settlement, VW's Electrify America network is installing 160 stations across California and some of those are in more remote locations. Electrify America's vague maps don't provide much detail, but it appears they plan stations somewhere between Bakersfield and Mojave. They also have stations planned for somewhere between Inyokern and Olancha and a third station somewhere around Bishop. These three stations would serve the East Side of the Sierra Nevada.

In addition, CalTrans, the state's department of transportation, had planned for the installation of 37 stations to be operational by November 2018. Three of these planned stations are east of the Sierra Nevada: Coso Junction, Independence, and Bishop, California. Unfortunately, CalTrans will miss its deadline. CalTrans' stations are on hold, according to the Electric Auto Association's Raejean Fellows, pending the outcome of Proposition 6 in the November mid-term election. If passed, Proposition 6 repeals an increase in the road tax that CalTrans planned to use in part for the DC fast-charging stations.

Port Density

California does have the highest density of ports for non-Tesla EVs relative to population among the regions examined. But, the number of ports, called outlets by the Alternative Fuels Data Center, doesn't tell you how many vehicles can charge.

Each port serves one vehicle, but not all ports are active at one time. Most new DCFC stations in California have at least two charging kiosks. Each kiosk, or dispenser in Electrify America's vernacular, has two ports. In the typical installation, only one port is active at a time.

For example, EVgo operates one station at a Walmart in Bakersfield. This one station has two kiosks. Each kiosk has two ports. Thus, the station has four ports--but only two can be active at one time. As a result, the number of ports listed by the Alternative Fuels Data Center does not reflect how many vehicles can actually charge.

Stations in Tesla's supercharger network have dozens of ports. The Kettleman City and the Baker, California stations have 40 kiosks each, all with a single port. All ports are active all the time, although the level of charging may be reduced by the number of vehicles charging at one time.

Tesla operates 82 supercharger stations strategically placed along major as well as minor corridors in California. Notably, there are 1,088 Tesla DC fast-charging ports in the state and all are designed to be operational all the time. Tesla operates eight ports in remote Mammoth Lakes, another four ports in Lone Pine, and four ports in Inyokern, all on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada.

VW's Electrify America is installing multiple kiosks per station. Each kiosk has two ports, but like kiosks from other companies only one port is active on a kiosk at a time. At its station in Colby, Kansas, Electrify America has installed four kiosks for EVs using the American-German CCS standard, and one kiosk for the Japanese CHAdeMO standard. It's not clear if this mix of kiosks is in full compliance with VW's settlement agreement to be brand neutral. VW builds EVs using the CCS standard.

To summarize, California lags behind its peers in number of non-Tesla DC fast-charging stations relative to its population. The state has more ports than any other state relative to population, but not all of these ports can be used simultaneously to charge an EV. Currently, gaps remain along several major corridors. However, both the state and VW's Electrify America is installing hundreds of new stations that will be completed within the next 18 months.
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To summarize, California lags behind its peers in number of non-Tesla DC fast-charging stations relative to its population. The state has more ports than any other state relative to population, but not all of these ports can be used simultaneously to charge an EV. Currently, gaps remain along several major corridors. However, both the state and VW's Electrify America is installing hundreds of new stations that will be completed within the next 18 months.
Thank you for collecting and analyzing this data, but I don't think the results match your conclusion. Ports are most definitely a valid metric, and though they can't be used simultaneously, they can allow queuing. And they indicate a wider range of vehicles supported.

Oregon's having fewer ports per million relative to stations per million actually indicates that they have a number of single-use chargers. Because we know that the current population of (non-Tesla) EVs uses one of two DCFC formats, the effective number of chargers per million should actually be reduced.

Another metric that we will want to consider in the future is total output capacity per site and average output capacity per charger. Many of Oregon's chargers are lower power units, so you might also what to consider how many kW of output capacity is available per million residents.

And yes, Tesla Superchargers allow power splitting, but the total output per two stalls is 120 kW to 145 kW. For example, Tesla's Kettleman City Supercharger has a peak capacity of 2.9 MW. Electrify America's proposed ultra-fast DC charging locations along the core I-5 corridor with ten to fifteen 350 kW (not during this phase, I believe) would have peak capacities of 3.5 to 5.2 MW respectively. Far greater total output capacity than Tesla's flagship facility.

And why does that matter? It means that, as long as the vehicles themselves support the faster charging standard, a 10-charger (20-port) Electrify America site can support more vehicles than a 40-stall Tesla Supercharger site.
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By the time the EA build out starts the phase you refer to, the Tesla V3 Superchargers will already be on line.
As noted in the article, Tesla has reduced their initial target of 350kW using off-grid solar and powerpacks to 200-250 kW. As the technology for passenger EV's and batteries improves, they will eventually get to 360-480kW, but that would likely be V4 Superchargers. The evacuation issues we see when these storms hit, highlight the need for zombie apocalypse-proof refueling stations which is requiring the reduced specs for now.
Also, how does a 20 port station of mixed protocols support more than a 40 port proprietary station? Are you implying they will turn over more cars per hour? It's not really fair or logical to compare vaporware to a real charging infrastructure that's not standing still.
Electrify America is primarily supporting the CCS format. The only real holdout at this point is Nissan (well, and Tesla). Also, I wouldn't call the 350 kW dual-head CCS chargers "vaporware." Over a dozen sites are already live, and dozens more are in various stages of development. Electrify America is moving very quickly (and they aren't alone). But, if you want to throw the term "vaporware" around, it's just as appropriately directed at Tesla's V3 Supercharging, which has been in the works for several years now, as I recall.

Anyway, I just swung by this thread to let people know about EVgo's accepting suggestions for new charging locations:
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This is one of the problems using the AFDC's data. We could break it out by CHAdeMO and CCS. That's doable.

Just FYI, I might not be who you think I am. I'm Eric, not Jeff... though Jeff and I have broken bread... well, maybe not literally. 0:)

I've been trying to use OCM (Open Charge Map) for my efforts coordinating with A Better Route Planner; however, its interface is also problematic.

While PlugShare charges a hefty price for their aggregated data, they seem to be the easiest source for me. I actually think that one of the reasons they don't allow filtering by power is because it could affect their ability to sell that data. I'm not complaining (they are running a business and providing a service), but it explains why the other sources are less user friendly. Essentially, you get what you pay for.
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Hmm... not a fan of the way ChargeWay is being implemented. It makes people think that they have to add all of that range in a single sitting? It's a waste of time and will clog networks. Keep the miles at 200, but split between two sessions (100 miles each), and the Bolt EV is the top end of a Green 4, and the Model 3 LR is the bottom end of a Red 6.

Also, they've chosen the three colors people are most likely to be colorblind to. It should be represented by symbols rather than (just) colors. In addition, the charging rates on both the chargers and the vehicles should be represented in max, median, and min mi/hr of range, not kW + time to some undefined mi/kWh (which will vary a lot based both on the individual vehicle's efficiency and current driving conditions).

Sometimes, it's possible to oversimplify things to the point that the concepts become harder to understand. Tesla models taper their charge rates. Most other EVs step down. In both cases, the longer you stay, the slower you charge, both in terms of maximum and average charge rates.
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You should talk to Matt Teske about this ... obviously someone like you with your channel could influence how ChargeWay could improve. You're obviously not even close to someone who would be in the "target audience". You're sort of a "super expert" when it comes to charging. You should tone down your comments, however, because I don't think anyone wants to have their hard work called a "waste of time". I'm sure you'd feel pretty bad if someone called your you tube videos a "waste of time". In other words, it's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.

Also on the app, The Bolt's scale on the released app is 1 to 5. I tried the trip planner, I know from my research that it's suggestion would work for a 500 mile trip but there is still at least one better charger to pick along that route; but heck it's the first couple of days that the app's been out so it will improve over time. The target audience is the average person that one day will realize what we've realized already ... that EVs are simply better. To make it easier for them, if they see a road sign with an EV Green 3 then they've got a place to go to charge ... that's what he's aiming for. Hopefully, Green 5's sooner rather than later. ;)
The "waste of time" is a reference to the time spent charging, not the app or the effort. Trying to charge to 200 miles in a single sitting requires more than twice the time it would take to charge 100 miles in two separate stops. A better implementation would be to (on the back end) identify the fastest charging windows for the vehicle (e.g., about 120 miles in the Bolt EV and about 130 miles in the Model 3 LR), then recommend the appropriate number of stops. Again, though, things get complicated because of varying levels of efficiency due to driving speeds and conditions.

My comments were meant to be constructive, but yes, tone is important. Unfortunately, tone is often lost on the internet, so I simply try to be matter-of-fact. In this case, I'm simply giving my feedback on how to arrive at a solution that is most helpful to the end user.

My hope is for most consumer level vehicles to be 7s with 350 to 450 miles of range. Essentially, anyone who is providing educational tools for EVs at this point should be trying to work themselves out of a job.
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The trip between the SF Bay area and the L.A area is somewhat worrisome at the moment, what with all the crapped-out 24 kW chargers on US-101 (unless you want to drive way out of the way and go down CA-99). The trip from Sacramento up to OR is hair-raising (and very slow, since most DCFCs are singleton 24 kW units).
That hasn't been my experience.

On the Highway 101 route: I only use the 24 kW chargers as an emergency backup (i.e., a 125 A charger is down or I miscalculated range). Otherwise, the Bolt EV doesn't really have a problem bridging 120 to 140 mile gaps between the 50 kW DCFC, even at freeway speeds. Yes, a four-stall charger in King City would be great, but the Bolt EV manages just fine right now.

The problem with taking Highway 101 from SF to LA is that it is longer just in driving time than taking I-5 or Highway 99. While you might shave 15 minutes off the trip taking I-5 instead of Highway 99, the flow of traffic on Highway 99 is typically better. In either case, they are both almost an hour faster than Highway 101. The only reason I can justify taking Highway 101 instead of Highway 99 is that I live in Ventura, another 45 minutes from LA. Even then, Highway 101 is technically the slower route.

The Highway 99 route is ridiculously well supported (given the current state of the public charging infrastructure). Most of the charging points are dual chargers (with dual ports) and 125 A.

On I-5 north of Sacramento, again, the 24 kW chargers can be used as backups until Yreka, near the Oregon border. The 50 kW ChargePoint in Mount Shasta is built but hasn't yet opened, and and the four 150+ kW Electrify America chargers in Dunnigan are being constructed as we speak.

The biggest problem, as you've mentioned, is the number of chargers per site. In densely populated EV areas, even the two-stall locations are starting to be overrun with regional EV traffic, but the single-charger locations in the boonies have been relatively open.

This is something EVgo is going to need to address with their own network moving forward. By building the Baker charger location, they opened that corridor to short-range EVs. As a consequence, the Victorville charger went from hardly being used to a major bottleneck in the network. Essentially, EVgo is going to need to start looking at their network as a system of chargers, rather than isolated charging points (this is something Electrify America is doing well).
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Seriously folks... no...wait...I am being serious. When the industry pronouncements get so insane, so unbelievable, so batsh!t bizarre, that we want to desperately believe - it's time to realize that the future of BEV's is bleak.
Um, those 2.5 million include what has already been built, and a vast majority of those 2.5 million chargers are going to be L2 (so most will cost a fraction of that $30,000+ per unit to implement). The 2.5 million really isn't that outlandish given that ~20% of Americans live in multi-unit dwellings with no onsite charging.

According to an NREL study, EV drivers do about 80% of their charging at home. That means that the public charging infrastructure only really needs to support 20-40% of the population (those who cannot charge at home and those who are traveling). Looking at gas stations, we have ~150,000 in the United States. With even a 6 pump per station average, we're at ~900,000 pumps to support 100% of drivers. If we then take the high of 40% of EV owners charging away from home, we need about 360,000 public charging points.

But, because not all refueling is equal, we need to look at how many miles of range these various refueling pumps can add per hour (or even minute). Obviously, gasoline wins. Those 900,000 pumps can each, on average, add about 100 miles per minute of operation. Now, gas pumps are only active a fraction of the time. Let's say 15% to be generous. That's about 19.5B miles a day of range they are doling out. Let's go back to that 40% of EV owners charging away from home. That's 7.8B miles of range per day that the public infrastructure needs to be able to provide. The miles per day can vary from under 300 miles a day for 16 A L2 AC to over 33,000 miles a day for 350 kW. But let's just say an average of 5,000 miles (skewing toward the L2 side). That leaves us with a mix of nearly 1.5 million public charging points of various speeds.

Of course, that's all just a big thought experiment, but with a little diligence and research, we could come to a reasonable figure.

Now, as for the energy consumption required to transition to 100% EVs... it's really not that much. If you take all of the gasoline consumed in the United States for personal transportation, times it by 33.7 (the kWh of energy per gallon of gasoline), assume an average conversion efficiency of 25%, and then compare that energy to the total electrical energy consumed by the United States.... Our total electricity consumption would only increase by about 20%.
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Sorry for the confusion.

No problem. Jury is still out on whether Jeff is offended! :laugh:
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A compact, low cost (less than $5K) stand alone 60kW DCFC box that any commercial operation can effectively plug-in to their existing power source and offer this level of charging to EV drivers. This is the only reasonable way I see to expand DCFC destination locations - other than to rely on criminals to atone for the crimes against citizens.
Thanks for the plug. :laugh: But, yes, right now, I think advertising is the biggest return on investment that DCFC implementations currently provide. Something that I forgot to mention in my video is that tens of thousands of people currently rely on services like PlugShare, which function as advertisements for the local businesses that install fast chargers. Businesses are bringing in far more customers based off of PlugShare entries than they do off of their large billboard ads. Whatever they are budgeting for billboards could be directed at DCFC installations instead with a better return on investment.

But to your point, I agree that bringing the cost of the units down would be paramount. I would say that, ideally, your 60 kW DCFC boxes would be able to link. I might even suggest going a step further, where you have 30 kW units that could link. In combination with a medium-size battery backup (20 to 60 kWh... essentially, two to four Tesla PowerWalls), which already has value for businesses even without the EV charging component, would make an ideal setup for most of the major fast-food chains along freeways. Set aside four out-of-the-way parking spaces, with the maximum potential for 120 kW of service. If your pricing structure is correct, the entire implementation (including the grid-tie battery system) would cost less than a singe, 50 kW unit currently costs (and, with wall mounting, could have a smaller overall footprint).
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