Where do I charge my electric truck?
Last year, even as the pandemic prompted a 17% plunge in new car sales, U.S. consumers purchased nearly 3 million full- and midsize pickup trucks–accounting for 20.1% of the new car market. At the moment there are essentially no electric vehicle options for this $100 billion+ market, but with a number of new vehicles hitting the market, the space is ready for disruption.
The day before Ford unveiled its first fully electric pickup last month, the F-150 Lightning, President Biden visited a Ford Motors plant in Michigan that is manufacturing the freshly minted EV’s.
With the F-150 already the best-selling passenger vehicle in the market, this rollout marks a big milestone in the push to electrify the U.S. automotive space.
The space is expected to quickly become more competitive with the introduction of the Rivian R1T pickup truck, which is reportedly making its first deliveries this July, followed by the Hummer EV, and Tesla’s Cybertruck. Other laggards in EV markets are startups like Lordstown, Workhorse- that could have sturdy builds for utility trucks. The potentially massive growth of this new product type then begs the question, how will these buyers charge these larger, more powerful vehicles?
Range anxiety is already a concern, never mind the negative-impact of towing on the range of these utility vehicles. Dumping 100 miles of range in 10 mins of charging of these trucks, will require power levels of up to 350kW — none of existing charging ports can actually deliver that nameplate capacity “continuously”.
The current options for charging infrastructure leave much to be desired in either power or accessibility.
EVgo, one of the U.S.’s largest fast-charging public networks, does not build their own hardware and therefore passes the markup of purchasing equipment onto consumers. Seeing significant delays in its charger rollout due to the pandemic as well as civil and municipal red tape, the company is still 82 charger installations short of meeting its June 30 milestone deadline for the quarter, part of an agreement with General Motors (GM). EVgo admitted to shareholders that it might not hit its first milestone by the end of the month, nor is it optimistic it will be able to meet future milestones.
The Tesla SuperCharger network, once state-of-the-art, has now lost its relevance in the rapidly standardizing industry. As the automakers unify to the CCS standard for open access, Tesla still offers it’s own custom ports for charging in the US (Tesla’s in EU do have CCS2 ports). Further, the electrical machinery is limited to 480 Volts, hence cars like Rivian, Lucid, Hummer, and Porsche wouldn’t be able to charge at the supercharger network- even with a port upgrade.
To support projects like the Cybertruck- which would need higher system voltage, Tesla must upgrade their whole network- or build an inferior truck.
Electrify America, the network funded through Volkswagen’s diesel-emissions settlement, provides best-in-class DC fast-charging infrastructure, but it’s locations are predominantly along highway corridors that will not meet the needs of a more urban population. Also, built hurriedly with limited time for product development, they are beset with software bugs that keep the stations offline.
Freewire, another competitor in the EV-charging market that integrates batteries with chargers, only offers 120kW output from their charger, which means they can’t even reach the peak charging rates for more powerful EVs like pickup trucks.
As the U.S. market grows to accommodate ever more (and more powerful) electric vehicles, there must be a charging solution that is quickly scalable, promotes open-access, and able to thrive in densely populated urban areas.
This is the fifth post in a recurring series of ElectricFish insights around the transition to a modern electricity infrastructure. Stay tuned for our upcoming posts!