While electric car charging infrastructure continues to roll out more slowly than expected in the U.S., some places around the world have already deployed enough to make long distance regional travel a relatively easy feat with today's electric cars.
In particular it's the installation of fast charging stations-able to add about 80 miles of driving range in a half hour of charging-that has allowed some countries to dominate in this arena.
To this point places like Japan, Ireland, Portugal, and the Netherlands have led the charge. In fact, Japan alone accounts for more than 85 percent of all installations so far, with more than 700 fast charging units in operation. It's no wonder considering that the current dominant fast charging standard, known as ChaDeMo, originated in that country and the world's biggest EV manufacturer, Japan's Nissan, has developed fast charging technology that is as much as 90 percent less expensive than the competition.
Even though Japan has stolen the limelight in this regard, another island nation known well for leprechauns, four-leaf clovers and beer the color of night has also been installing fast charging stations at a breakneck pace. In fact, Ireland's largest utility, ESB, has committed to installing more than 1,500 charge points in the country, including significant numbers of fast charging stations. When combined with the stations installed at Nissan dealerships, it adds up to an easily accessible web that makes long distance electric car travel in the country a reality.
To prove this point, ESB recently entered a Nissan Leaf in Cannonball Ireland 2011. The road tour runs over three days and traverses more than 600 miles of Ireland's roadways. It generally attracts expensive exotics for onlookers to gawk at, but given the electric car's current rarity ESB figured that the Leaf qualifies as an exotic in its own right.
Using a combination of fast charging during the day and lower speed charging overnight, the ESB team was able to complete the rally in the three day time allotment and become the first electric car to enter and finish a Cannonball Run anywhere in the world-showing just what a difference having widespread charging infrastructure can make.