Electric Vehicles

'Charging' Ahead from the Grid Up

November 2012, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author


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We have experienced a love of electric vehicles almost from the very beginning of automotive history. When carriages first lost their horses, it was a race between electric, steam, and gasoline. Steam lost the race early on, but electric vehicles (EVs) kept pace until the 1930s, when gasoline won out as the fuel of choice, for a variety of reasons — extended ranges, a faster growing infrastructure, and shorter fueling times, to name a few. It’s been on its “victory lap” ever since.

A resurgence in interest in electric vehicles occurred in the mid-1960s, as evidenced by an article entitled, “The Electric Car: Dream or Reality,” in the Electrical Workers’ Journal in December 1967. The article cited research and development from Ford, General Motors, and General Electric, and noted that the Federal Power Commission (now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) predicted a possible market of 35 million electric vehicles by 1985! Obviously, that didn’t happen.

So, where are we today?

State of the Industry
First, we have to look at how the vehicles that the infrastructure supports are utilized. Used for mainly shorter, stop-and-go routes with return-to-base operations, EVs are “charging” ahead with new models, updated technology, and advanced comfort options.

Pike Research, a part of Navigant, projects the North American EV charging equipment market will see roughly 66,000 units sold in 2012. In 2011, around 18,478 plug-in vehicles were sold in the U.S. (around 48,000 sold globally). That’s a far cry from the 35 million vehicles we were supposed to have by 1985.

“Out of the 66,000 charging units, only 20 percent will be private units, which includes equipment installed by fleets,” according to Lisa Jerram, senior research analyst for Pike Research. “Right now, fleets are a small part of the total charging equipment market, because fleets have not yet been a major factor in the plug-in vehicle market.”

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