Lack of business model for public charge stations stimying buildout
Electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt will start hitting showroom floors this fall and there is a considerable amount of talk--and even some concern--about where exactly we will be in terms of building-out the charging infrastructure needed to keep those zero-emissions vehicles up and humming. With travel range on most passenger electric vehicles (EVs) somewhere near 100 miles per charge, potential buyers want to be assured they will not only be able to charge at home, but also when they're on the road.
While several factors have slowed the buildout of the charging infrastructure thus far, a new report published last week by the cleantech market research firm Pike Research, suggests there will be some serious catching up over the next five years with the addition of nearly five million new EV charge points.
The report,"Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment", estimated that there will be 4.7 million residential, public, private and workplace charging stations installed during the period from 2010 to 2015. And in the U.S., there will likely be almost 1 million charging stations by 2015.
“The success of hybrid vehicles in the 2000s gave drivers a taste for propulsion by electric power,” says senior analyst John Gartner, “and governments around the world are now highly focused on creating the charging infrastructure to support the arrival of EVs in significant numbers.”
Pike's forecast of 4.7 million charge stations was downgraded from their 2009 figure of 5 million charge points installed between 2010 and 2015, due to a dip in projected rate of sales for EVs, and a continued lack of a clear business model for public charging stations.
“The economics of selling a few kilowatt hours per charge are very challenging," said Pike analyst Gartner. "Public charging station deployments will be driven mainly by government initiatives over the next several years.”
The report also found that the market for EV charging equipment is likely to become increasingly crowded by the end of next year as tech firms like GE, Panasonic, Samsung, and Siemens jump into the EV charger sector. The moves will put more pressure on niche players like Better Place, Coulomb, ECOtality to push ahead with their plans of developing charging networks in the U.S. and Australia and Europe.
Hat tip: cnet