I was the principal author for this just-released primary research report on public EV charging, sponsored by Natural Resource Canada and done in collaboration with Mogile Technologies, editor of the ChargeHub database.
This report identifies three categories in the Canadian electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in which gaps occur: cities, highways, and customer experience. It is based on data in the ChargeHub database, an independent, curated, user-enriched and commercially available database of public EV charging stations in North America, augmented by data from stakeholder interviews and demographic census data and geographic data.
Generally, cities in British Columbia and Quebec have more public charging ports relative to their population than cities in other provinces, and city EV drivers use them more than drivers outside cities. As for major highways, coverage is at 61%, with most of the gaps in the Prairies. For customer experience, EV drivers consider range anxiety (a vehicle issue: “Will I be able to get where I am going?”) a less serious concern than charging anxiety (an infrastructure issue: “Will I be able to charge at this site?”).
Although the geographic coverage of the EV charging infrastructure is relatively good, the charging capacity is stretched in many areas, resulting in a suboptimal customer experience. Fast charging sites tend to be larger in cities, and Tesla fast charging sites are, on average, four times larger than non-Tesla sites. Meeting the increasing charging needs of EV drivers and promoting adoption of EVs will need to account for existing capacity utilization in the immediate area where new sites are considered, especially at peak driving times such as Fridays before a long weekend.
Interviewees stated that public charging sites generally have a challenging intrinsic economic case for their operators and site owners, which is constraining expansion. A large portion of charging sites is currently only financially undertaken when subsidized in some way, whether by governments, by utilities, by automakers or by site owners. Business owners likely justify supporting public charging sites based on the possible indirect benefits they may bring, such as attracting drivers and customers or improving public image. In this context, stakeholders see the financial support from NRCan’s infrastructure deployment programs as essential.
Optimizing future EV charging infrastructure deployment will need to account for not only coverage but also capacity needs. For example, adding ports to an existing site, or adding a new site in the vicinity, may be highly beneficial for EV drivers if there is regular congestion and if the new capacity can be demonstrated to relieve current or upcoming congestion. Furthermore, due to the low levels of satisfaction with customer experience for public charging, we recommend that NRCan make the driver experience a key measure in assessing the performance of the EV charging infrastructure.
The full report can be obtained at https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/transportation-alternative-fuels/resource-library/3489, under the title “Identification of Current and Future Infrastructure Deployment Gaps”, or contact me directly.