WASHINGTON, July 12, 2017 - As manufacturers make efforts to put more people behind the wheel of a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV), the Energy Department (DOE) explores what changes may be needed to support a larger number of those types of automobiles. The issue is similar to what the nation had to face in the early 1900s, as the Ford Model T became affordable enough to cause people to stable their horses and park their buggies. As that advance mandated building gas stations, the PEV revolution demands widespread access to charging stations for cities, towns and rural areas.

The DOE and its national laboratories have said they will work along with the public and private sectors to advance the charging infrastructure, increasing its convenience, accessibility, reliability and affordability. Presently, a PEV must charge for no less than a half an hour, or eight hours for a full charge. DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) is working on understanding and reducing technical barriers to high-power extreme-fast charging to cut down on that time. For convenience, VTO is exploring the possibility of wireless charging and the cost effectiveness and production efficiency of such technology.

The VTO is also working with the PEV community to understand what research is needed to enhance the interoperability, accessibility and expediency of the nation’s charging infrastructure, which includes more than 43,000 charging outlets. There are currently no standards established among the few companies offering charging stations. VTO say it hopes to establish some guidelines that will allow PEV drivers a reliable way to recharge their vehicles, using open-source software that can communicate across different platforms, standardized payment and billing systems, and real-time charging station status.