How Much Will it Cost to Set Up Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure?

by Frano Covic

EV uptake is rapidly growing all over New Zealand as major motor vehicle manufacturers start to release electric vehicles priced to suit every household budget in a wide range of models.

As mass manufactured and marketed EVs become the majority of vehicles on the roads, when will we start seeing concerted efforts to bring in an EV charging infrastructure to match it?

How much does it cost to set up an EV charging station open to the public? And who is responsible for making them as extensively available as petrol stations are currently? that ever-present dominant feature in every cityscape and highway?

EV charging stations for the public

Electric vehicle charging stations are popping up everywhere: councils, shopping centres, and workplaces. They are usually more expensive to use than residential ones, because the cost varies depends on several factors, the main ones being:

  • Number of stations and charging ports being set up
  • Type of installation used
  • Specific site requirements

For example, a public charging station with a single port will use hardware anywhere from two to three thousand dollars, depending on the brand installed and features it offers.

This is what the NZ government has to say about public charging station costs, as it leads the nation steadily on toward a petrol-free future.

NZ government guidelines for its public EV charging infrastructure

EV drivers usually charge their vehicles at home. Transport vehicles are left overnight in depots to charge. Both types of transport methods sometimes need to charge on the road. That’s where a nationwide charging infrastructure comes into play.

The government's job is to ensure that the network of charging stations is aligned, reliable, and safe. Only this will give logistics businesses and private drivers the confidence to drive longer distances in their EVs.

In New Zealand, both public and private transport are to have access to a network of DC charging stations, all set approximately 75kms apart from the other along the state highways. The government has pledged to have an established baseline of nationwide charging stations ready by 2030.

Along its progress toward complete decarbonisation, the NZ transport sector is accelerating its charging infrastructure to grow alongside the sale of EVs. It’s doing this with a two-pronged approach:

  1. Strategising a short-term action plan to be implemented over the next few years
  2. Implementing a long-term direction for an ever developing, dynamic EV network

It will also:

  1. Advise and encourage business and industries with greater certainty on how they can plan for future EV charging demands
  2. Ensure the infrastructure rolls out to all New Zealand highways
  3. Supports Just Transition
  4. Is proactive when it comes to addressing all existing and future problems and barriers to EV uptake.

What are the minimum requirements for a public EV charging network?

A comprehensive EV charging infrastructure comprises of three types:

  •     Public - open for any EV owner to use
  •     Commercial - only EVs used for commercial travel can use one
  •     Private - residential / restricted use

And all EV charging stations intended for public use must reach certain criteria.

  1. Safety - the charger must offer a minimum Mode 3 or 4 charge; it must be specifically designed and intended for general public use; all chargers accessible to the street have to be endorsed by the local authority that controls the road in that area.
  2. Reliability - the charger must be monitored by the charging operator in real-time; all rapid charging stations must be open to the public at all times.
  3. Inter-operable - must be able to be used by multi numbers of EV makes and models; DC (Direct Current) chargers must offer both CCS Type 2 and Chademo connectors; AC (alternating current) chargers must offer Type 2 socket chargers; universal payment system methods must be available at all times.

What are the differences between private vehicles and special electric truck charging stations?

Like any area dealing with heavier vehicles, as EV trucks get larger and heavier the grounds on the property will need to be adapted to bear the extra weight, and wear and tear. As for the cost of charging stations for the special electric trucks that are currently available and private EVs, it seems like the government is rolling out a greatly synchronised effort, so that both the private and public sectors can access this tech when it comes to proximity and affordability.

So with all this information at our fingertips, we can deduce that costs for an EV truck charger will be different than one for cars, because trucks take up more space.

An average petrol station can handle 12 cars refuelling at once. Maybe 6 trucks in the same space: 6 x $3,000 is $18,000.

Real estate for the truck stops will cost around $100,000.

There are around 1,300 petrol stations in New Zealand. These are all likely to change to EV charging stations or at the very least they will add ports to existing petrol station outlets over the next two or three decades. That equals an approximate 90 million dollar initial outlay for ports alone.

What is the upside of these costs? The operational costs of EV charging stations are much lower than for an ordinary petrol station. With an unofficial number of around 400 truck stop stations currently in New Zealand, the average cost to adapt them into EV charging stations would be around one million dollars per. That comes to a national outlay of 400 million dollars in total.