In this series which is based on data from Electric Vehicle Councils study, JD Power buyer considerations and other sources to better understand how and where consumers drive and recharge their electric vehicles (EVs) and what they would like to experience while recharging in terms of site design, amenities, capabilities, and services.
It is intended to understand current consumer behaviour and how it will evolve in the next 10 years.
Part 1 was published 19 Oct 2022
We will look at the following 5 areas:
Part 1 — Who is the EV Driver?
Part 2 — When and where does the EV Driver recharge?
Part 3 — Why does an EV Driver choose a particular recharging facility?
Part 4 — How do EV drivers interact with charging equipment?
Part 5 — What do EV Drivers do at facilities while charging?
Part 2 — When and where does the EV Driver recharge?
EV drivers tend to recharge daily or once every two days, typically overnight at home, and overall, about 70–80% of charging occurs at home or at a workplace parking lot.
Most EV fleet customers today (2020) operate in a hub-and-spoke network and exclusively recharge their vehicles overnight at their home base.
The most used public chargers are those where vehicles are typically parked for long periods (e.g., airport parking lots, grocery store, etc.) (2012–2014).
Most customers drive within their battery range only, using a public charger when making trips longer than their range would permit.
Drivers of ICE vehicles fill up based on the cost, necessity, and time of the day; 32% only fill up when they see the fuel warning light in the dashboard (2019).
Nonavailability of chargers at home and making trips longer than the battery range are two of the various reasons why drivers use public charging stations.
EV charging stations spaced 70 miles from each other on average could provide convenient access to battery electric vehicle (BEV) drivers across the country(2017).
EV Drivers charging frequency
As the battery range of vehicles increases with every new model year, the confidence among EV owners is increasing, which is noted in the downward trend of charging frequency (Figure 18). The average EV owner driving a 2016 or 2017 model year vehicle charged approximately once a day as opposed to EV drivers with vehicles of a 2011 model year that required to be recharged approximately twice a day (43 times a month). 2021 model year vehicles are predicted to not be very different from 2016 and 2017 model year vehicles and are expected to be charged roughly once a day.
This trend, however, could see a slight rise as the number of public chargers increases or an EV charging marketplace like Manta Ray EV. People are likely to plug in even when their EV has enough charge to complete the trip because of factors such as availability, convenience, and value.
The Research Reports found that most prospective PEV buyers would prefer to charge twice a week, overnight, at home (Figure 19).
The American Public Power Association in their 2017 study predicted that uncontrolled, aggregate EV charging could have a vehicle recharging profile as depicted in Figure 20. They suggest that to avoid rising EV charging rates, utilities may need to incentivise consumers to charge in non-peak periods.
EV commercial fleet customers operate in a hub-and-spoke network and tend to exclusively recharge their vehicles at their base. Their charging schedule largely depends on their operation shifts. Vehicles operating day shift, such as transit buses, school buses, and delivery trucks, are typically plugged in at the end of the shift for overnight charging. However, opportunity charging has also been observed in certain applications such as yard facilities and transit bus routes, particularly where the vehicle operation tends to be very busy and the window for charging is narrow.
EV Drivers preferred charging location
A few years ago, EV charging occurred 80% of the time at home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Figure 21).
Among survey participants, 57% exclusively charged at home and 40% claimed to recharge at home and away in 2015. In 2018, 67% of those surveyed charged either at home or at work and the remaining third of the participants charged elsewhere.
In another EV Project study between 2011 and 2013 (Figure 22). Charging events by site per week exhibit a large range; however, the median was around nine events per week. The most used parking lot charges were those located in downtown areas. Workplace charging and chargers located in multi-family complexes were also amongst the most used.
Although, the majority of recharging was done at home and/or at work, INL found that many DCFC that were open to the public experienced heavy usage by both inter-city and in-town traffic, and a relatively smaller number of Level 2 chargers saw constant high usage. Public Level 2 chargers locations where vehicles are parked for longer periods of time, such as shopping malls, airports, commuter lots, and downtown parking lots with easy access to a variety of venues, were amongst the ones that were most used during the period of study.
EVs operated by commercial fleets are charged exclusively at their bases using private charging stations owned and operated by the fleets. However, availability of public charging stations in the future can help alleviate the financial burden and responsibilities of installing charging infrastructure to some extent; some fleets may rely completely on public charging stations while others may consider those as an option for extending the range if the battery state-of-charge is low during regular operations. However, this is going to require the industry to use standard charging protocol and the network of public charging stations to be reliable and available. Private charging stations are still expected to be predominant charging locations amongst commercial fleets, particularly the early adopter large fleets. But adoption of EVs in mass market and smaller commercial fleets may spur the growth of public charging station networks.
Amazon plans to have 10,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2022 and 100,000 by 2030 to help meet its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 as part of its Climate Pledge. In order to meet this goal, Amazon would need to switch their middle mile transport fleet to EVs as well. Amazon and their delivery partners currently install charging stations at home base for their last-mile delivery fleet, but to meet the extended range requirements for middle-mile delivery, they may need to use public infrastructure on highways.
EV drivers tend to mostly recharge at home and/ or work. A few factors that prompt using public chargers include the following (Figure 23):
Nonavailability: Drivers who do not have access to a charger at home or at work must recharge at public charging stations.
Running out of range: Drivers who exceed the range of the vehicle battery on any given day may need to visit a public fast charging station.
Accessibility: Charging stations’ availability at places where drivers would park anyway, such as shopping malls, restaurants, grocery stores, etc., where it takes only a few seconds to plug in, encourages drivers to use a public charger.
Value: A driver may choose the value of using a public charger that is free of cost.
Convenience: EV chargers are usually nearer to the entrance of public amenities, thus drivers receive preferential treatment.
Forgetting to charge at home: Drivers who forget to charge their car at home might have to rely on a public charging station to maintain daily travel plans.
Factors that influence a recharge occasion
Charging occurs predominantly either at home or at work and typically overnight, similar to when users recharge their mobile phones when there is a guaranteed downtime. Some drivers plug in at workplaces when chargers are available and free of cost. Drivers may plug in to public chargers when the charger is available for free to get more value by virtue of free electricity, to access priority parking in an otherwise crowded parking lot, and when the charger is available at locations where they would have parked anyway. Since most BEV drivers drive well within the battery range for most of their travel requirements, a public charger is only unavoidable while making trips longer than the battery range would permit.
Conventional vehicle drivers, on the other hand, tend to base their refuelling preference on time, necessity, and cost, amongst other factors. According to the National Motorist Association, citing an Esurance survey, 32% of drivers wait until their gas light turns on to fill up their tank, although drivers over age 55 tend to fill up while their tank is still half full. Participants claim to put off getting gas because they do not have enough funds for a full tank (30%) or they are too busy to fill up and perceive getting gas as inconvenient (26%).
NACS: The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing found that nearly 40 million Americans fill up every day, and 59% of respondents said that price dominates where they purchase fuel, but quality of fuel, food, and employees aid their decision.
They also found that 33% of consumers prefer to purchase fuel during the evening rush as opposed to the morning rush, when 22% of the respondents fuelled up. Many drivers aged 65 or more tend to fill up midday while most drivers who purchase gas in the morning are between the ages of 35 and 49.
Charging Infrastructure requirement
McKinsey predicts that the PEV-related energy demand would go up almost tenfold by 2030 (Figure 24). This falls in line with the prediction that there could be between 12 and 15 million PEVs by 2030 — up by nearly 10 times of today’s 1.6 million PEVs (Figure 25).
Although approximately 70%-80% of charging takes place at home or at work, EVs are expected to be driven like present-day ICE vehicles.
A study by Navigant Research estimates that 95 DCFC stations along major highway corridors would enable travel across the U.S. and that 408 DCFC stations would suffice to meet long-distance travel needs of EVs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the U.S.
Analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2017 found that DCFC stations would be required to be spaced 70 miles apart on average to provide BEV drivers access across the U.S. interstate system. Their analysis further revealed that to dispel range anxiety concerns, BEV drivers in cities and towns must never be more than three miles from a DCFC, requiring 8,200 charging stations (25,000 plugs) across the U.S. for a 15 million PEV projection.89
This number appears to be the bare minimum since automotive OEMs are already partnering with charging providers to install DCFC stations. As an example, General Motors alone in partnership with EVgo will add 2,700 DCFC stations by 2025. Similarly in the UK a well known car manufacturer has partnered with Ohme to provide home charging points with each EV sale.