The CT company deals with blockages of electric vehicles

Consider the humble gas station.

Today, that’s just a part of the background, one of more than 150,000 in the United States, including over a thousand in Connecticut. Here in the most densely populated part of the country, it almost takes a deliberate disregard of your surroundings to run out of gas; there is almost always a gas station on the next climb.

It hasn’t always been that way. Before World War II, before personal vehicle ownership became ubiquitous, drivers had to try their luck. According to the National Museum of American History, “Before there were gas stations, consumers bought gasoline in a barrel at the grocery store or hardware store.” There weren’t any smartphones with apps to tell you where the next barrel might be, so good luck finding your way the unknown long distance.

Electric vehicles in 2021 are beyond the gas-in-a-barrel phase, but they’re also some distance away from a scenario where there’s refueling infrastructure on every block. Their position on this continuum has a lot to do with the rate at which their sales are increasing, which has serious implications for minor issues like the long-term habitability of our planet.

A Connecticut company is trying to speed up the transition to ubiquitous charging a bit.

Norwalk-based JuiceBar manufactures electric vehicle charging stations in Connecticut and has tripled its workforce over the past year, with plans for more growth in 2022. Paul Vosper, CEO of the company, said said last year’s extreme weather conditions could play a role in accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, or EVs.

“People are starting to realize that climate change is here, not in the future,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s a very real phenomenon.

No one sees EVs as a climate panacea – they still produce emissions, albeit at a much lower level than gasoline engines, and the electricity to power them has to come from somewhere, often from a power plant. electric fossil fuel. And on many fronts it would be better to get away from cars altogether. But with transportation playing a disproportionate role in releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, including in Connecticut, accelerating the transition to electric vehicles is seen as an important step for the environment.

But there are blockages, including availability, price, and what the industry calls “range anxiety”. This refers to concerns about how far an electric vehicle can travel between charges, especially given the aforementioned lack of infrastructure.

These fears are fading, however, on several levels. The first is that electric vehicles can go further now than a few years ago, and the range continues to grow. The other is that the infrastructure, thanks to JuiceBar and others, is starting to catch up with expectations.

“The increased visibility of chargers goes a long way in eliminating range anxiety,” Vosper said. “It’s largely the fear of the unknown. Driving an electric vehicle can take a little more planning, but there are apps that can help you, ”directing a driver to nearby charging stations.

The model for EV infrastructure, however, is not the traditional gas station. It’s more like a cell phone charger.

The difference is significant. Charging an EV is something that usually happens in the background – while you’re at work, while you sleep, at the movies, or at the park. Ideally, you don’t need to take a special trip to recharge.

This is in part due to the chargers themselves, most of which take hours to bring a car to full power. It only makes sense to operate on that kind of schedule if you are doing something else in the meantime.

Electric vehicles are expensive, which is why important purchasing incentives are included in the federal infrastructure package (the viability of which remains uncertain). The availability of electric vehicles is increasing, although Connecticut’s oddly outdated dealership model is a hindrance. And when it comes to charging, skeptics are likely to come.

JuiceBar, which claims to be the only manufacturer of electric vehicle charging stations manufactured and assembled in the United States, sees a near-term future where electric vehicles will experience significant growth, which means high demand for charging. The number of vehicles and the infrastructure must grow in tandem, which is good news for the company.

The transition will take some time, but in the future we may be looking at many empty plots that once housed gas stations. Electric vehicles don’t have to solve all of our problems to be a worthwhile investment. Between gas in a barrel and a charger in a parking space, it’s a long way, but we still have a way to go.

Hugh Bailey is editor of the Connecticut Post editorial page and the New Haven Register. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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