John DeBoer, head of North American e-mobility at German conglomerate Siemens, said some fleet operators will need ultrafast DC chargers, but average consumers will still rely mostly on slower options.
"There is a desire in the market to have fast charging available as a comfort blanket, but we're not seeing the high utilization rates for our chargers in that segment today," DeBoer said, citing higher costs.
"There's been a little bit of counterintuitive behavior from the market intelligence we gather, where we see an end user interested in that experience, but they're not willing to pay for that experience," he said.
Rajit Gadh, director of the UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center, said one of the big benefits of EV use is paying roughly the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gasoline for the same number of miles. But that low price is tied to off-peak residential rates.
Ultrafast DC chargers are more expensive to buy, install and operate, and the cost is passed onto the consumer. Chargers at 350 kW also may require expensive site upgrades. Add higher energy rates and service costs, and the equivalent price could be $5 per gallon, he said.
"It's going to alleviate the range stress, but you're not going to do it every day," said Gadh, who drives a Tesla and has developed software to find the lowest-cost charging solutions as part of a tech startup.
ChargePoint, which supplies equipment and software to providers such as retailers, remains focused on charging options that don't require big infrastructure upgrades. But increasingly, it's getting involved in some "corridor charging" projects along highways, said Bill Loewenthal, senior vice president of product.
"There's a perception that we need DC charging everywhere, but from an electrical cost, infrastructure cost, it may not be the best utilization," Loewenthal said. "There are environments where it's mission critical."
ChargePoint and the National Association of Truck Stop Owners announced this year a $1 billion partnership to install DC charging at 4,000 fueling locations across the country for passenger vehicles and delivery fleets.
Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for e-mobility research at Guidehouse Insights, said ultrafast DC chargers will help change the perception for people thinking about buying an EV and may even bring the cost of the vehicles down.
Car buyers tend to think of the worst-case scenario for EVs, such as the occasional family road trip or towing a boat. Ultrafast charging will help level the playing field with gasoline vehicles or hybrids.
Ubiquitous fast charging could also have a positive effect on EV pricing. Faster charging means consumers will worry less about battery size and range, encouraging automakers to build more models at a lower price point.
"The experience, while not exactly the same as going to the gas station, it's a lot closer," said Abuelsamid. "Most people don't drive 200, 300, 400 miles a day, so they don't have to fast-charge all the time. The challenge of DC charging is that it gets pretty expensive."