The Role Data Can Play in the Electric Vehicle Revolution

by | May 23, 2024 | Utilities

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In late April, Tesla laid off 500 employees responsible for building electric vehicle charging stations. The move came as a surprise, since Tesla had reached agreements with other car companies allowing them to use the Supercharger stations Tesla was building.

Tesla is the owner of the largest charging network in the United States, so when it makes a move like this, it brings the electric vehicle industry into the spotlight. It also seems to throw a wrench into the plans the United States has to meet some of the goals it has set for itself when it comes to electric vehicles. Here’s what those goals could possibly result in, and what kinds of data the industry can produce.

Success in Norway

Norway has set a standard for electric vehicle usage. About 80 percent of new cars sold in Norway are battery-powered, and the country will end the sale of internal combustion engine cars next year. While the United States hopes to reach 50 percent of new vehicle sales being electric by 2030, Norway reached that milestone five years ago.

Part of the success of the electric vehicle movement came through incentives such as exemption from certain taxes and highway tolls for battery-powered vehicles. But another factor was making sure there were enough charging stations. The government subsidized the construction of the charging stations, but having enough places to plug in cars, particularly for apartment buildings, is still an issue.



The impact of charging stations

Another goal of the Biden administration is to more than double the number of fast and slow chargers in the United States by 2030. While Tesla was being relied on for its contributions to that number and its news was completely unexpected, it does not mean that number is unreachable. Government data shows that over the past year the United States has added an average of about 2,800 fast and slow charging ports a month.

Experts point out that most electric vehicle charging happens at home or at work, where people park their cars, not at charging stations. What charging stations do offer is peace of mind. People like knowing they’re there if they need them. The presence of charging stations can also help educate people about electric cars. The problem there is that charging stations first and foremost are being built where the majority of electric vehicles are being sold.



The role of data and analytics

That’s one of the first pieces where data and analytics can come into play. Some organizations are using artificial intelligence to help determine where to place charging stations, and which places have the biggest demand for them. As time goes by and more information about sales of electric vehicles is gathered, those predictions will become more accurate and aid the placement of charging stations.

In Norway, engineers gather information about pollution. Data indicates that the rise of electric vehicle ownership has resulted in decreases in levels of nitrogen oxides, the byproducts of burning gasoline and diesel that cause smog, asthma, and other ailments. There are other data points, such as the fact that Oslo has unhealthy levels of microscopic particles in its air. Those particles are partly caused by the abrasion of tires and asphalt, and since electric cars are heavier than internal combustion cars, they are causing more abrasion.

Another data point that is being studied by charging stations is what people do while they wait for their cars to charge. People spend more time waiting for a car to charge than filling a gas tank. Circle K bought gas stations in Norway and is using its experience there to inform how it might proceed in North America.

The biggest issue for charging stations could be working with utilities. It can take a while after a station is built for it to be connected to the grid, depending on the availability of parts like transformers and switch gears. Norway’s use of hydropower has helped its power grid hold up with what has been a modest increase in demand for electricity.

Things could be getting better in the United States, though. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved changes to the way the country’s electric grids are planned and funded. Instead of waiting to react to new demands on the grid, the commission is pushing for more action ahead of time. The new federal rule requires grid operators around the country to identify needs 20 years into the future, helping ease transitions to wind and solar power, for example.

The Bottom Line

There are certainly still obstacles to a complete transition to electric vehicle use, but work is being done to help make that changeover accessible. All of that work results in a lot of information, from the government to the utility companies to the vehicles themselves. The right analytics solution can help you make sense of that data and make informed decisions when the comes time to act.


John Sucich
Follow me

You may also like