David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

First U.S. gas station to ditch oil for 100% electric vehicle charging opens

The national public charging infrastructure is coming online.

Image source: ALDECAstock / Shutterstock
  • There are over one million EVs in the U.S., but no gas stations have completely switched until now.
  • Takoma Park, Maryland, is home of RS Automotive, the first merchant to fully make the leap.
  • Worldwide, there's an urgent need for about 2 million public chargers.

A prerequisite for fully transitioning away from petroleum products — those carbon-spewing substances whose supplies are dwindling anyway — is a ubiquitous public infrastructure for charging electric vehicles (EVs) that's as omnipresent as gas stations are now.

While home-based charging is becoming more readily available, keeping an EV going over large distances still requires public charging. There are an increasing number of merchants who offer EV chargers alongside their gas and diesel pumps, but now the very first all-electric recharging station in the U.S. has opened its doors in Tacoma Park, Maryland.

Welcome to RS Automotive

Image source: RS Automotive

The gas station, RS Automotive, has been owned by Depeswar Doley since 1997. He's hoping it's just the change he's looking for, having been increasingly unsure about depending on oil companies with their draconian contracts and onerous mandatory sales quotas.

A local public works manager suggested the idea to Doley, who told his 17-year-old daughter he was thinking about talking to the Electric Vehicle Institute (EVI). He recalls to CNBC that "She said, 'Dad, that's a real good suggestion.'"

RS Automotive has four high-power power dispensers running on a 200kW system. Reportedly, four vehicles can reach an 80 percent charge in 20–30 minutes. There's a comfortable space in which drivers can idle as they wait for their vehicles to charge, as well as an automated convenience store.

Doley's making his move with his eye on the future, not expecting it to result in an immediate windfall. "You notice there are not too many electric vehicles on the road. So it's not something that I expect to become rich overnight or something like that. But it's a good cause and good for the environment."

His risk is somewhat mitigated by a local electric taxi service in need of chargers. In addition, there are already 20,700 registered electric vehicles in Maryland, if not in Takoma Park, and the Maryland Energy Administration awarded Doley a grant of $786,000 for the conversion from petroleum.

EVI's Matthew Wade says there's undoubtedly going to be demand for the Doley's chargers. Without them, Takoma Park has just two, one located in a community center and the other on the side of a street. "They were fully utilized throughout the day; people were lining up. The city was happy they were being used, but then they said, 'Wait, no one can get in this parking lot, because these taxis are using these chargers.'"

How many EVs are there?

Image source: John_T / Shutterstock

There are over a million EVs now in service in the U.S. These vehicles still represent just 2 percent of America's wheels, but that number is rapidly growing, with 208,000 new registrations in 2018 alone. It's estimated that there will be 350,000 new U.S. registrations in 2020. Counting plug-in hybrids, there are some 40 varieties of vehicles to choose from.

Consumer Reports Advocacy notes that if you remove well-publicized Tesla from the equation, the growth rate in sales is just 11 percent, but the EV industry has really just hit the ignition button. All new vehicle sales flattened out in 2018, so an 11 percent growth rate for EV sales is noteworthy.

Worldwide, the market acceptance of EVs is also growing, with an estimated 2 or 3 million EVs purchased and operating. Nanalzye asserts that satisfying the charging needs for these vehicles would require some 2 million EV public charging stations worldwide. According to the International Energy Agency, the global number of EVs will rise to 300–400 million by 2040.

Today’s public charging

Image source: Elektronik-Zeit / Shutterstock

Tesla has more than 1,600 charging stations around the U.S., adding up to almost 15,00 chargers. (Originally free, Tesla now charges for a charge.) Other automakers are also dabbling in EV charging stations, including Hyundai, Kia, Daimler Mercedes Benz, and Renault.

Perhaps most promising is that some petroleum corporations are themselves moving into the space, such as Shell and BP. Count in some power utilities, too, including California's Pacific Gas and Electric and Europe's RWE.

Venture capitalists are seeing the future much as Doley is, funding startups such as ChargePoint, which plans to get as many as 2.5 million chargers by 2025 in place. EVgo claims to have the largest current public EV charging infrastructure in the U.S., with 1,200 fast chargers at 700 EV charging stations. Worldwide, the leader may be EVBox, who says they have 60,000 charging points internationally.

Doley may be making a very smart move here.

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Keep reading Show less

Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

Strange Maps

What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

Keep reading Show less

David Epstein: Thinking tools for 'wicked' problems

Join the lauded author of Range in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova!

Big Think LIVE

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Malcolm Gladwell was not able to make the live stream due to scheduling issues. Fortunately, David Epstein was able to jump in at a moment's notice. We hope you enjoy this great yet unexpected episode of Big Think Live. Our thanks to David and Maria for helping us deliver a show, it is much appreciated.

Keep reading Show less

Can a quantum strategy help bring down the house?

Study finds quantum entanglement could, in principle, give a slight advantage in the game of blackjack.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash
Surprising Science
In some versions of the game blackjack, one way to win against the house is for players at the table to work as a team to keep track of and covertly communicate amongst each other the cards they have been dealt.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

What really happens in your body and brain when you orgasm?

You may be surprised at how your body and brain react to this type of pleasure.

Scroll down to load more…