The real story is the quick chargers
Many in the media lately have been writing about the recent announcement by a Nissan Japan corporate VP that there are more electric car charging stations in Japan than there are gas stations. It’s not much of a stretch to then move on to say that there are more 120 volt outlets in America than gas stations so electric cars win. Let’s take a closer look at the statement though.
Joji Tagawa, Vice President, Investor Relations said that there are 40,000 charge stations including those in private residences, while there are roughly 34,000 gas stations. Each gas station offers multiple pumps though, while only some electric car charging stations offer multiple units. Also, the private residence charge stations aren’t generally available to the public. Of more importance though, which many have missed, is that there will be nearly 3,000 quick charge stations in Japan by the end of March, 2015, almost 6,000 globally, up from just hundreds in 2011 when the LEAF was launched. Below is a look at the quick charge picture in Japan, courtesy of plugshare.com.
In fact, there are so many quick chargers there, let me show you the image without the chargers so you can see how big the actual country is. Many of the smaller islands also offer DC quick chargers allowing travel around pretty much the entire country by electric car.
Now let’s take a look at what this same quick charge picture looks like here in the states:
It seems pretty clear that the need for all of those 240 volt stations in Japan is dramatically reduced if you have enough DC quick charge stations to support your travel needs. In the west and in the east we seem to be moving in the right direction, but we have a long way to go in the middle of the country. The US map does not include Tesla Superchargers as the Model S is the only vehicle that can use them, but it does include CHAdeMO and SAE Combo units. Japan has nearly 3,000 quick chargers. We have less than 1,000 in the US.
Why do all of these quick chargers matter? It’s the rare trip that is over 400 miles a day. Once we get affordable 200 mile electric cars, that trip can be taken with a meal break (who wants to spend 400 miles behind the wheel anyway?)