×

Automakers face a threat to EV sales: Slow charging times

AP PHOTO In this April 22 file photo, White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, left, talks with EVgo Chief Executive Officer Cathy Zoi, before the start of an event near an EVgo electric car charging station at Union Station in Washington.

DETROIT — If the auto industry is to succeed in its bet that electric vehicles will soon dominate the roads, it will need to overcome a big reason why many people are still avoiding them: fear of running out of juice between Point A and Point B.

Automakers have sought to quell those concerns by developing EVs that go farther per charge and fill up faster. Problem is, most public charging stations now fill cars much too slowly, requiring hours — not minutes — to provide enough electricity for an extended trip.

Concerned that such prolonged waits could turn away potential EV buyers and keep them stuck on gas-burning vehicles, automakers are trying to cut charging times to something close to the five or 10 minutes of a conventional gasoline fill-up.

“It’s absolutely the target to get faster and faster,” said Brett Smith, technology director at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank. “It’s not there yet, but it’s one of those things that moves the needle more toward a competitive vehicle for a lot of people, this ability to fast charge.”

The latest generation of EVs, many with ranges around 300 miles (480 kilometers) per charge, can accept electricity at a much faster rate than previous models could. So fast, in fact, that most charging stations cannot yet accommodate the vehicles’ advanced technology.

It can now require hours to fully charge an electric vehicle because most stations operate on a home-like alternating current. Direct-current fast-charging stations, by contrast, are hours faster. But they can cost tens of thousands of dollars more.

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
   

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today