Electric Car Charging Stations Are Getting Bigger

©. Chargepoint

Electric car charging locations have proliferated in recent years. Now they're expanding in terms of capacity.

The other day, a local electric car advocate and enthusiast posted about new charging stations at a Target store in Raleigh:

As someone who has directly benefitted from the proliferation of charging stations, I'm always pleased to hear about new locations for charging. But what struck me here was not the location, but the sheer size of the reported installation: twenty-one charging spots!

Early electric vehicle adopters—especially outside California—will have gotten used to single or dual-port charging stations, often of the slower "Level 2" variety. Indeed, for the first few years I had my Nissan Leaf, I could be fairly certain that I'd find my favorite spots empty. The fact is, however, that as electric vehicle use grows, these types of stations will no longer provide the kind of range reassurance they once did. It's one thing to head to a meeting knowing you can charge in a parking spot once you get there; it's quite another to wonder if you might just be able to. That's why charging stations are increasingly evolving not just to be more commonplace, but also to be faster and much, much larger. Here are just a few recent headlines that caught my eye:

New York City is installing rapid charging hubs at 50 locations, with each location consisting of 10 to 20 charging stations (AM New York)

Tesla is building biggest supercharger in the world (50 stalls) at an event center in Shanghai (Electrek)

World's largest charging station—featuring 144 ports—set to open in Germany (Cleantechnica)

Fastned granted 4.1m euros by German government to build out 25 multi-port charging stations across Germany (Cleantechnica)

You get the idea. Yes, we're still likely to see individual charging stations in out-of-the-way locations or spots where you might spend a little time, but these will be provided as much as a perk and a courtesy for you to get a charge while eating, shopping, staying in a hotel or attending a meeting.

Increasingly, however, we'll also have access to genuinely fast charging stations capable of handling a large number of cars at once. It'll still take a little longer than filling up with gas, but it seems that charging station providers are planning for just that eventuality. Rumor has it, Tesla's superchargers are going to evolve into service stations with restaurants, retail and maybe even food trucks. Hey, it's 2017, after all. You gotta have food trucks. Let's just hope they're electric.