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  • The Golden State faces barriers in electric vehicle charging infrastructure which might delay its goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on state roads by 2025
  • California leads the “race between the states” in public investments in EV charging infrastructure but private players have to explore new streams of earnings
  • California aims to set a Fast Charging (DC) inlet Standard in order to address the rising complexity

California’s EV charging infrastructure represents more than one-third of the U.S. market

As of April 2021, public and private charging stations amounted to 52,680 across the entire country, of which 14,388 stations were in California, according to the US Department of Energy. California is home to 34 EV-related companies with an estimated market capitalization of more than $500 billion, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC).

In 2020, ZEVs sales in California were slightly down but penetration in Light Vehicle sales rose to 8%


CEC’s data reveals that zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) sales in 2019 nearly reached 148,000 vehicles – a 6.84% penetration in total vehicle sales – while sales in 2020 were nearly 146,000 vehicles -penetration raised to almost 8%.

California’s plan to scale EV Charging Infrastructure to meet the 2025 ZEV goal

Tesla sold nearly 84,000 vehicles in California as of 2020, while Chevrolet and Toyota followed with smaller sales proportions.

Following California’s ZEV action plan, authorities plan to put 1.5 million ZEVs on state roads by 2025 and at least 5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Regarding ZEV’s adoption through 2030, California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) 2030 Strategy Scenario and CEC’s 2020 energy demand forecast, indicated that over 2.2 million zero-emission vehicles are expected to hit California roads by 2025.

As ZEV prices decline, shared public charging infrastructure will be increasingly critical for the wider adoption of Electric cars

Back in 2019, a study conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Volvo Cars, indicated that public charging availability is crucial for EV’s development – in the years to come the growth in the EV market will increasingly depend on driver confidence in charging infrastructure. According to the study, while almost 50% of the ZEV’s drivers choose to charge their vehicles at the public stations, more than one-third of them (36%) found the experience of using public charging stations as time-consuming.

The gap in charging infrastructure may obstruct the State’s progress toward 2030 ZEV goal 

According to California Public Utilities Commission, the state is currently on the road to achieving the goal of 1.5 million ZEVs on state roads by 2025 but is behind in providing the charging infrastructure needed to support the growing EV population.

As of late 2020, California had nearly 67,000 public and shared chargers installed, including over 5,000 direct fast chargers. Projected installations of public and private Level 2 and DC Fast Chargers are expected to reach nearly 189,000 by 2025 according to the California Energy Commission, leaving a gap of almost 61,000 chargers in order to meet the 2025 charger goal.

Financing the expansion of EV charging infrastructure in California

Biden’s call for massive investment and the current (public and private) investment status in California

President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes a $174 billion investment in order to promote EV deployment and install 500,000 charging stations across the U.S. by 2030. Concerning the current status of investment, California State is leading the state race of charging infrastructure deployment.

The California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program has invested almost $200 million in public and private charging infrastructure over the past 10 years, while CALeVIP continues to fund incentives for EV charger installations.  Additionally, in Jul.2020, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a $436 million program that will deploy approximately 40,000 charging stations for electric vehicles in Southern California.

The need for new revenue streams: 2 paradigms, Smart charging and bi-directional charging are two paradigms

Beyond the traditional revenue model (i.e. mark up the retail price of electricity for charging purposes), charging infrastructure development requires new business models that can potentially expand the revenue streams and diversify charging-business for the EVSE suppliers.

Smart Charging uses a cloud-based energy management system that is capable of optimizing the existing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. ChargeForward, a “smart-charging” pilot program launched by BMW and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), offers to all BMW EV drivers in Northern and Central California incentives for maximizing the integration of renewable energy when they charge their cars during recommended hours. Drivers are able to use BMW ConnectedDrive and ChargeForward apps, in order to fulfill their smart charging requests.

Bi-directional charging allows cars to store and discharge power from their battery packs, usually in the context of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems that integrate EVs with the power grid. The all-electric Ford F-150 will provide bidirectional charging capabilities, while the Lucid Air developed by Lucid Motors offers full bi-directional charging for Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X), Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) features.

Standardization of Fast Charging (DC) inlets by 2026 become crucial

As more and more carmakers contemplate intelligent charging solutions, standardization of charging inlets will be a key prerequisite for the development of charging infrastructure. The lack of standardization among charging inlets -and particularly FC inlets- increases rapidly the barriers to establishing a functional charging network. The current split of DC chargers among three designs -CCS, CHAdeMO, and Tesla- causes complexity issues in terms of drivers uncertainty (i.e. finding a compatible connector) and the EVSE suppliers ‘ infrastructure plans.

California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) has recently announced that by 2026, all light-duty EV vehicles with fast-charging capability in California should be compatible with the CCS connector.


In its 2020 analysis, CARB foresees that by the end of 2022,  51 of the 59 BEVs in California will use the CCS inlet. In this context, Nissan has recently announced that it would be equipping the new Ariya electric crossover with a CCS connector, rather than the CHAdeMO inlet.

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To learn more about competition and market developments in the next decade read our reports

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