Japan has 34,000 gas stations, and now it has over 40,000 charging points for electric cars. This includes car chargers in homes and stations on the street, according to a financial report from Nissan.
That sounds great, and it is, but there are some big differences between filling up with gas and filling up with juice. To begin with, gas is way quicker. You can fill your tank in a few minutes, whereas most car chargers drip-feed the batteries. This in turn changes the way we refuel. Usually we drive until we’re almost empty, then rely on the fact that we’re never far from a gas station (there are between 122,000 and 157,000 retail locations that sell gas in the U.S.).
Electric cars need a little more planning. Even Tesla’s supercharging stations, which are claimed to be 16 times faster than typical EV chargers, need more than an hour to fill up a battery, although a half-hour top-up is good for up to 170 miles. That’s why Tesla puts its charging stations near restaurants and shopping centers, so you grab some groceries or a cup of coffee while your car fills up.
The barrier to entry for a charging station is also lower than that for a gas station. No digging tanks for the gas, and no need for trucks to make deliveries. In future, it may be practical for a city-center convenience store to set up a few stations on the curb outside.
Gasoline is still a great medium for energy storage, though, so it’ll be around in remote locations for a long time yet, but electric cars seem perfectly suited to urban transport, with its short journeys, and abundance of electricity. Let’s see how long it takes for U.S. charging stations to outnumber gas stations.