Electrical contractors have every reason to feel optimistic about the future. The United States government is focused on making electric options available to all by deploying billions of dollars toward accelerating the electrification of buildings, transportation, and industry.
For electric vehicles (EVs) the administration has allotted $7.5 billion for EV charging stations and the needed infrastructure to accelerate the electrification of our vehicles. If one thing is for certain, the future of the United States is electric.
Driven by California’s mandate that only EVs can be sold in the state beginning in 2035 and given that many states look to California as a leader when it comes to shaping policy, the list of automakers that have committed to transforming their production lines to deliver only EVs by 2035 keeps growing. GM, Jaguar, Audi Bentley, Lexus, Lotus, BMW’s Mini, and Volvo have committed to going all-electric by 2035. Ford has promised not to be left behind and miss out on the bright future for EVs. As supply and demand continue increasing, the electric infrastructure must be prepared to support this next wave of electrification.
The country will need nearly 12.9 million charging ports to charge the 4 million EVs projected to be on US roads in 2030. Without sufficient charging options, many would-be early adopters instead choose to wait before purchasing an EV. Charging at home is often the most convenient option when possible, with 51% of EV owners reporting they are charging mainly at home.
When it comes to why some drivers hesitate to choose EVs, 58% of drivers state the reason they have not purchased an EV is due to concerns of range anxiety, or the fear they will run out of power before being able to charge their vehicle. 80% of fleet managers report that range limitations are their biggest barrier to transitioning their fleet to EVs. Today, EV owners utilize various tips and tricks to reduce range anxiety as they plan their commutes for business or leisure travel.
Range anxiety will become a thing of the past as the charging infrastructure continues to be improved. There were about 42,000 publicly accessible Level 2 and DC Fast Charging outlets in the US in May 2021. A report commissioned by the Electric Transportation Community Development Corporation projects that the creation of a national network of 500,000 EV fast chargers by 2030 will create a need for about 28,950 job years. Extrapolating to 12.9 million charge ports suggests a need for more than 405,000 job years.
The EV market is divided into two primary segments:
Light-duty vehicles account for less than 1% of EVs on US roads today and consist of vehicles with gross vehicle weights (GVWR) of less than 10,000 lbs. These are mainly conventional family vehicles, SUVs, and full-sized pickup trucks. While the total market share is still low presently, IHS Markit projects that 25-30% of new car sales will be electric by 2030.
Medium and heavy-duty vehicles are principally in commercial and industrial service. Included are tractor-trailers, refuse trucks, transit buses, and coaches. Medium-duty vehicles encompass trucks, vans, and buses with a GVWR of 10,001 and 26,000 lbs. Heavy-duty vehicles have a GVWR greater than 26,001 lbs. Although heavy-duty vehicles only make up 10% of all vehicles on the road, they are responsible for 28% of greenhouse gases and 57% of fine particulate emissions.
Three different types of installations are used to charge EVs.
Level 1 EV chargers are primarily used for home charging, particularly when someone is unable to install a specialized outlet for EV charging. Level 1 chargers charge electric vehicle batteries at a rate of 2-5 miles per hour. Level 1 chargers can plug directly into any standard home outlet, and do not require any upgrades to the existing electrical system.
Level 2 EV chargers are the most deployed type of charging ports and account for about 80% of US public and at-home charging. This level of EV charger typically adds range at a rate of 5.5-60+ miles per hour, depending on the energy capacity, vehicle, and EV charging station. Pricing of Level 2 chargers runs about $380 to $690 for residential-grade chargers and $2,500 and $4,900 for commercial charging. Many auto manufacturers currently offer discounts for the installation of a Level 2 EV charger with the purchase or rental of a new electric vehicle and additional savings can be realized in the purchase of an EV charger through government or utility programs. Level 2 EV charging stations almost always require electrical work by a certified electrician to provide the infrastructure necessary to safely support a Level 2 EV charger.
DC Fast chargers account for about 18% of public charging outlets in the US and charge at a rate of 180-240 miles per hour with up to 400 kW at maximum power. Prices for DC fast chargers can range from $20,000 to $150,000, depending on system wattage and not including installation fees. While these chargers are less common, the ability to quickly charge greatly reduces the burden of EV ownership. DC fast chargers are a critical component of the bright future of EVs by providing the necessary infrastructure to travel without range anxiety.
Given the robust forecasts, a surge in demand for charging infrastructure should paint a pretty picture for electrical contractors; however, one bottleneck still needs to be overcome. The ability to complete these projects will require having enough skilled personnel ready to work.
State regulations require skilled electricians to install Level 2 and DC Fast chargers. The country faces a shortage of skilled electricians even in light of the bright future for EVs. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 79,900 openings for electricians each year, on average, over the next decade.
Three factors are driving the electrician shortage:
As the nation’s most trusted leader in installing Level 2 EV chargers, Qmerit is working hard to resolve the current electrician shortage by creating solutions, establishing training, and offering resources for electricians. The Qmerit team has helped contractors in adopting best practices for hiring apprentice and journeyman electricians.
Qmerit also advises contractors in training and retaining skilled electricians. Through its Qmerit Resource Center or QRC, Qmerit offers continued training, expert tutorials, technical guides, and updates on the latest electrification trends and technologies to bolster the electrification- and EV-specific abilities of contractors to meet the demand for new EV charging infrastructure.
To learn more about what Qmerit is doing to help electrical contractors meet the growing demand for EV charging infrastructure or to join the Qmerit Network and grow your business, contact Qmerit.