Consumer buy-in is crucial for the industry to meet lofty electrification goals, and the charging experience must drastically improve for most consumers to consider buying an electric vehicle.
Last week, Automotive News highlighted the challenges of deploying public charging infrastructure in the U.S. Among them: adjusting consumer expectations.
EV charging and refueling a gas tank will never be apples to apples. Many EV owners have home chargers, and they can top off as needed at public Level 2 chargers while they run errands or go to work.
For long-distance travel, EV owners need fast chargers, which typically take 20 to 30 minutes to power an EV, compared with the five minutes it typically takes to fill a tank.
Home charging isn't an option for everyone. One in 3 consumers surveyed by J.D. Power said they were unable to install a charger at home. Most live in multi-unit buildings or rent their homes.
That means more customers will be relying on public charging infrastructure to power their vehicles.
Many EV and charging leaders have said that consumers should learn to enjoy the journey and accept a longer charge time while they take a driving break, grab a bite to eat or do some shopping. Charging companies' marketing photos often show drivers enjoying the outdoors, playing catch or walking their dogs. Although many Americans may wish they could adopt such a leisurely pace, most just want to get to their destination.
Asking customers to downgrade their standards from the predictable, century-old gas station model is unfair. The industry must improve charging speed and access for broad EV adoption.
Free or discounted charging offers through automaker-charging network partnerships won't move the needle if the charging experience is inconvenient.
Charging companies say they are focused on improving customer satisfaction, but the clock is ticking as the Biden administration targets zero-emission vehicles to make up half of new-vehicle sales by 2030.
Simplifying charging is up to the auto and charging industries. Consumers will change their car-buying patterns when they have a good reason. For many, that's still a work in progress.