Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Growing in Number

Electrical vehicle charging is on the move, judging by the news surrounding the infrastructure buildout.

Last week, Pike Research reported that a total of 4.7 million charge points will be installed globally from 2010 to 2015. The research firm also said, however, that the mix of charging station types will vary significantly by region. The United States, the report said, will be led by residential charging units, which amounts to 64 percent of the country's 974,000 charge points to be installed by 2015.

“Compared to the rest of the world, a greater percentage of U.S. electric vehicle owners will live in single-family homes,” says senior analyst John Gartner. “In Asia Pacific and Europe, where multi-family housing is more common, just 35 percent of charge points will be residential, and EV drivers will rely much more heavily on public or private charging equipment for their primary recharging locations.”

Gartner adds that North America will also see a higher percentage of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which require less charging infrastructure due to smaller battery packs and gasoline engines that extend their range. In addition, he says, utilities outside North America will more frequently serve as operators of public charging stations. These factors will result in a higher ratio of charging equipment to electrified vehicles in Asia Pacific and Western Europe, compared to the United States and Canada.

At least two companies have joined forces to try to address the anxiety felt by those electric vehicle owners who are impatient for the buildout in the United States.

Eaton Corporation and Murphy Oil USA, Inc., a leading fuel provider operating more than 1,000 retail gasoline stations across 22 states, are collaborating to demonstrate to electric vehicle drivers the benefits of fast, convenient charging within the familiar environment of a traditional gas station.

After an initial test phase at a location in Tennessee, the companies said they will evaluate ways to expand the program and use the combined capabilities of their organizations to help make charging stations widely available.

“Murphy Oil USA is committed to being a pioneer and early adopter of alternative fuels and Green Energy. Through our collaboration with Eaton, we are paving the way for development of the infrastructure leading to adoption and expanded of use of electric vehicles,” said Hank Heithaus, president, Retail Marketing, Murphy Oil USA.

The project will ultimately include Murphy Oil USA’s installation and use of Eaton’s DC Quick Chargers, based on the company’s quality and safety records as well as the reach of its service organization.

“Eaton is focused on creating innovative and affordable technologies that help customers reduce their impact on the environment,” said Richard Stinson, president, Power Distribution Operations – Americas, Eaton’s Electrical Sector. “Eaton offers a complete line of electric vehicle chargers for residential and industrial application and has a presence in communities across North America. We are excited about collaborating with Murphy Oil USA to deliver this clean technology within an environment that the consumers are very comfortable with.”

In two of Texas' larger cities, TXU Energy is investing in at least a dozen charging stations spread across Dallas and Fort Worth, at various locations selected by the cities.

"Filling up" an electric vehicle should be cheaper than gasoline ─ comparable to paying about 75 cents/gallon of gasoline, according to a TXU press release. To emphasize this point, TXU Energy has offered to reimburse the cities for the cost of the electricity at the charging stations for city vehicles for three years, and for the public’s vehicles for the first year.

“This is an important step in developing the kind of infrastructure needed to provide cleaner transportation options for North Texans,” said Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. “Almost three-fourths of air pollution can be attributed to mobile sources, and electric vehicles have an important role to play in helping us reduce it.”

“The auto manufacturers are providing consumers with a cleaner and affordable transportation solution, but electric vehicles are no use without the charging stations to support them,” said Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief. “It’s vital that companies, like TXU Energy, step forward to provide the tools necessary to help realize the full potential of zero-emission vehicles. A cleaner environment means a more prosperous future; and the nation that leads on energy will be the nation that leads the world in the 21st Century. I believe America can be that leader, and I believe that can start with us right here in North Texas.”

Ecotality blink charging station

Meanwhile, ECOtality has unveiled its Blink electric vehicle charging station, (pdf) as well as blueprints for electric vehicle infrastructure deployment in four major metropolitan areas in Northwestern Oregon: Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Eugene.

This announcement marks the completion of a critical milestone in the planning process for The EV Project, the largest rollout of EV infrastructure in the world, the company's press release said. As part of the project, ECOtality will install more than 1,100 publicly available chargers throughout the region.

“I have long known that Oregon was the right state to launch this next generation of vehicles and show the rest of the country that we can make this transition without inconveniencing or pricing regular citizens out of this market,” said Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

“Today, Oregon is ready to emerge as a pioneer in electric vehicle adoption,” said Jonathan Read, president and CEO of ECOtality. “The support of our advisory group has provided invaluable research and allowed us to develop a smart plan for the installation of EV infrastructure that suits the needs of Oregon’s future EV drivers. By coupling our plans with the capabilities of Blink, we are creating the rich charge infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles a reality.”

ECOtality, project manager for The EV Project, is tasked with supervising the construction of the largest deployment of EV infrastructure to date. The $230 million public-private initiative is funded with a $114.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The EV Project includes 16 states and major metropolitan areas, and will result in the installation of more than 15,000 charging stations, over the course of three years.

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