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Emerging Charging Station Form Factors

Sam Abuelsamid
Apr 15, 2022

Guidehouse Insights EV

Over the past decade as the modern era of EVs has slowly ramped up the accompanying public charging infrastructure has grown in parallel. But as the number of available EV nameplates grows, so will the number of vehicle form factors and the demographic profiles of EV owners. So with that, we need a corresponding evolution of the public charging station, and network operators are responding to improve the customer experience. 

Through the fall of 2021, there were about 20 EV nameplates available for sale in the US market and all of them were roughly car-like, ranging from the Nissan Leaf to a variety of Teslas. Even Tesla’s Model X and Y crossovers were basically tall cars. However, in the US, many retail customers buy larger trucks and SUVs and use them for towing. As this is written, Rivian and GMC are slowly ramping up production of the R1T and Hummer pickups, and we are just weeks from volume production of the Ford F-150 Lightning. 

Accommodating Trailers

Charging stations have largely been configured with the chargers at the end of traditional slots in parking lots. That setup works fine for individual cars and even SUVs. But as vehicles get larger or have trailers connected, users have had to find cumbersome workarounds like parking where they shouldn’t be, blocking multiple slots, or disconnecting the trailer each time they need to charge. 

Electrify America (EA) began configuring some of its stations in 2020 with drive-through bays to provide easier access to vehicles with trailers. With Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis combined planning to have production capacity for well over 1 million electric trucks annually by 2025, charging stations that can accommodate trailers will be much appreciated. 

EA also recently revealed a design for new charging stations that are more visible so that drivers can find them. The company is also planning to include amenities such as lounges so that people can rest while charging, EV showcase areas, event spaces, solar canopies, and locations near shopping that can provide valet parking. The first of these will be operational later in 2022.

Adding More Lounges

In December 2021, Audi opened its first new charging hub near the Nuremberg Exhibition Center in Germany. Built around a cube concept with containers that house pairs of DC fast chargers and banks of second-life EV batteries, the charging hub can be quickly installed and doesn't require as large of a facility upgrade. The first hub has 2.45 MWh of battery storage and requires only a 200 kW input from the grid or other energy source to support six charging points with 320 kW each. Up to 80 vehicles can be charged daily without exceeding the 200 kW input. 

Chargers can be reserved in advance through the Audi app and they support Plug and Charge for easy access. An upper level contains a lounge area where drivers can relax while they wait. Audi is also testing scooter rentals and battery swaps for e-bikes at the same charging hubs. 

Although having the ability to charge at home without visiting a gas station is a great benefit for EV owners, it’s not always possible or practical. Making the public charging experience as simple, convenient, and pleasant as possible will be essential to convince the masses to move to electric propulsion.