EV Charging Use Cases

Charging EVs can be done at many places with various complementary use cases. This is quite different than fueling combustion vehicles, where the only option is to go to a service station. I am providing here the breakdown of the common EV charging use cases that I use for analysis when reporting on the industry.

  1. Home Charging.
    • Detached homes with their own parking spaces (and access to electricity).
    • Multi-unit residential buildings (using the shared electrical infrastructure).
  2. Public Charging. 
    • At a destination (when parked for hours).
      • Commercial or public sites (such as food stores and restaurants).
      • Curbside (using public on-street parking spaces).
    • On-the-go charging (when stopping for minutes).
      • Community charging (for commuting in a city, such has at a convenience store).
      • Corridor charging (along highways for intercity travel, such as at a rest area).
        • Light duty vehicles (LDV)
        • Medium and heavy duty vehicles (MHV)
  3. Workplace Charging (while employees are at work).
  4. Fleet Charging (at a depot).
    • Light-Duty Vehicles (LDV)
    • Medium and Heavy Vehicle (MHV)

Based on energy supplied, roughly 70% of LDV charging occurs at home, with level 2 charging accounting for about 80% of home charging[i]. The rest is mostly in public places, and some charging is at workplaces. 

For detached homes with their own parking spaces installing a dedicated EVSE is generally feasible at a reasonable cost, often wall-mounted in a garage or on an external wall. EVs may also be charged at level 1, from a 120 V plug. While level 1 charging is slower, it is generally sufficient for typical daily commuting when the EV is charged overnight. 

For multi-unit residential buildings, installing chargers and their electric distribution cabling may be highly problematic. For example, the electrical service entrance may not be suitable for the additional load from large-scale EV charging. Furthermore, cost allocation amongst owners or renters may need to be negotiated. Homeowner associations may provide a forum for discussions, but their rules may also hinder installation of chargers. Therefore, EV drivers living in a condo, a strata or an apartment building may have to rely on public or workplace charging sites. 

Destination charging refers to charging when one can expect to be parked for a few hours, elsewhere than at home. For example, food stores and restaurants are commonly found around destination charging sites. These are typically level 2 chargers. 

With on-the-go charging sites, drivers expect to stay only a few minutes while charging, such as at a convenience store or at a highway rest area. These are much like legacy gas stations, and normally level 3 chargers. Many of these charging locations may serve the local community for drivers not having access to home or workplace charging. Others are for corridor charging, serving intercity travellers (like service areas for LDV) and commercial vehicles (like truck stops for MHV). 

Many workplaces are starting to offer EV charging for their employees, either at level 1 or level 2. This charging may or may not be free to the employees, and it may or may not be available to visitors. For large installations, workplace EVSEs may coordinate with the building management systems to avoid excessive demand charges. 

In addition to charging of light-duty passenger vehicles (use cases 1 to 3 above), fleet charging is an important segment. Fleet charging might include light-duty commercial vehicles, such as taxis, as well as local delivery trucks, long-haul trucks, school buses, and public transit buses. Fleet charging is a combination of level 2, such as for overnight charging of light-duty vehicles at a depot, and level 3, especially for medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. For large fleet depots, power requirements may reach megawatts, which may have a significant impact on the local distribution grid.

[i]        The Geography of EV Charging, Understanding how regional climates impact charging and driving behavior, FleetCarma, 2020, p. 13.