It soon will become easier to charge a Chevy Bolt or Tesla in China. The nation plans to build 167,000 charging stations. The move is bound to help electronic car adoption since most vehicles in the category have ranges well under 300 miles.
According to The People’s Daily:
A total of 167,000 charging piles have now been connected to the telematics platform of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), making it the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging network.
By cooperating with 17 charging station operators, the SGCC now offers more than 1 million kilowatt-hours of power each day. In addition, users can complete their payment for the service within the system.
China has built the largest EV charging network in the world to date, with the highest number of facilities, the broadest coverage, and the most advanced technology.
The issue of “advanced technology” might be debatable. The need for the stations is not. China’s land mass is 9.6 million square kilometers, compared to 6.9 million for the United States. In both nations, most of the population live in large cities. There are few charging stations between cities in the United States.
The footprint of charging stations is the United States is fairly small. Tesla has 945 supercharger stations with 6,502 superchargers. It continues to add to the locations rapidly, but its total will continue to be well below China’s.
Among the problems with the U.S. supercharger business is that there are still very few electric cars in the country. Tesla, the industry leader, sells fewer than 100,000 vehicles a year. As it launches its relatively inexpensive Model 3, sales per year could double. At that point, supercharger demand would rise.
China’s EV charger plans are so ambitious, and funded to some extent by the government, that the United States may never catch up.