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The Electric Vehicle Era: What should a nationwide EV-charging infrastructure network look like?

By: John DeBoer III, Head of eMobility Solutions, North America, Siemens USA

Editor’s Note: With more than 100,000 charging stations deployed across all 50 states, Siemens is making significant investments to support electric vehicle (EV) charging manufacturing, including a commitment to manufacture more than 1 million chargers for the U.S. over the next four years. This is in addition to a recently announced $54 million investment in the company’s Grand Prairie, Texas and Pomona, California facilities that produce power technologies for critical infrastructure and EV projects across the country. Siemens also is the first external investor in Electrify America, the largest open ultra-fast electric charging network in North America.

 

To fill in-demand EV charging jobs, Siemens is creating new training and reskilling workforce programs, including an apprenticeship initiative in partnership with Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina. And at our nearly 600-person R&D hub in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, we are working towards the future of electrified transportation through continuous testing and exploration of EV technology.

 

This post is the first in a two-part series in which John DeBoer offers insights on how to scale EV charging infrastructure. You can read part 2 here.

In the U.S., we are finally entering the era of electrified transport that spans our entire society. Private citizens, corporations, schools, and transit fleets have begun the movement to a fully electrified and zero-emission fleet. As federal policy and funding are driving towards achieving the goal of net-zero carbon emissions, we are seeing a ten-fold increase in the prevalence and availability of electric transport in our society. Homeowners, municipal governments, and forward oriented companies are beginning the complete change to an electrified future.  But with this move, infrastructure must evolve now. 
 

So what does this electric-vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure look like? And how do we ensure that every make and model of EVs can have convenient access to charging? 

Fast charging: The EV hook-up should not slow your trip

While today you can—with some planning—drive an EV coast-to-coast, the reality is charging infrastructure is NOT as fast and accessible as it must be for at-scale electrification. As battery sizes grow and EVs become our primary form of transportation, high power and accessible DC fast charging is a critical convenience to sustain growth. This means charging infrastructure that can charge at 350kW and beyond, with an ability to access this infrastructure throughout the country.  

Open standards: Making payment easy at every station

Simply put, the infrastructure for EVs must be open and accessible. This means that EV drivers should enjoy the flexibility of forms of payment that they enjoy today. However, the broad ecosystem of payment companies participating in the market need access to the infrastructure so that they can provide new and innovative value to drivers and hosts. Technologies that allow different EV charging stations and network-software companies to speak the same language, with open forms of payment, are critical to success. With hundreds of innovative companies throughout our country, it is vital that the innovations and creativity of these multiple new market entrants are included as a vital part of our infrastructure strategy.

 

Infrastructure for EVs must be open and accessible. This means that EV drivers should enjoy the flexibility of forms of payment that they enjoy today. However, the broad ecosystem of payment companies participating in the market need access to the infrastructure so that they can provide new and innovative value to drivers and hosts.

Interoperability: Any car, anywhere, can connect for a charge
 

Electric vehicles, charging stations, and the digital platforms that run our EVs must work together seamlessly. Having an established, universal protocol for plugs, connectors, and chargers ensures that just about every make and model should be able to charge at EV charging stations across the country no matter which EV you drive. Everything from a full-size truck to a two-seater coupe should match the infrastructure, an interoperability that car makers and infrastructure manufacturers will have to commit to. 
 

Aligning stakeholders: The challenges will be complex, the rewards greater
 

The undertaking to develop this nationwide EV-charging infrastructure, supporting networks, and established industry protocols is a daunting challenge considering the necessary alignment of public interests at a local, state, and national level, as well as private industrial players that span the electrification, energy, and transportation sectors. 
 

The alignment of these parties will take time, and it will evolve over time, but we cannot wait to start.  The sustainable success of the industry is dependent upon the mature existence of a nationwide network over the next decade.  And ahead of us is an exciting journey of new business models, new opportunities for domestic manufacturing, and a future state of cleaner, more modern cities that thrive on a lower-carbon environment.  

Published: July 7, 2022