Improving battery technology has boosted drive ranges to over 500 km and fast-charging infrastructure is growing rapidly.
Limited drive range, lack of charging infrastructure and long charging times dampen enthusiasm for electric vehicle (EVs). However, in all these areas significant improvements are expected in the coming years.
Drive range is increasing, mostly because the energy density of batteries is rising to provide more energy with less weight. While in 2014 most EVs in the very-small-car segment had a range below 150 km, at the end of 2019 the average was 250 km. Today some models can travel up to 550 km on a charge. There’s no reason to assume this incremental rise will halt anytime soon.
The number of electric charging stations is growing rapidly in key markets. Car manufacturers and other stakeholders are collaborating and investing in fast-charging systems. There were an estimated 5.2 million charging points worldwide at the end of 2018, up 44% from 2017. Public fast chargers numbered 144,000 and slow chargers numbered 395,000 by the end of 2018.
China boasts half the world's public chargers (and over 75% of fast chargers). Germany has over 17,400 public charging stations, with more added every day. Supermarkets, hotels and car parks are installing charging stations for their customers. Companies are doing the same for employees.
A global average of one charger per ten e-cars is the ratio recommended by the European Union Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (EC, 2014). Many countries remain below this, for example Norway and the United States with one charger per 20 cars. But the Netherlands and Denmark have a relatively high number of public chargers: about one per four-to-eight cars.
Right now, fast chargers can charge EVs in less than half an hour. There are currently 2,000 such stations in Germany. A joint venture between German carmakers and the company IONITY is installing rapid-charging stations every 120 kilometers along Europe’s motorways. And don't forget: an EV can be charged overnight with a domestic socket. In fact, about 70% of all charging takes place at home or work. So recharging on the road is often unnecessary.