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More Electric Vehicles Require More Charging Stations

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

As noted in our last article, electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly expanding across the US. As the number of EVs continues to climb, commercial charging stations must become as widely available as today’s gas stations. This will require efforts from multiple stakeholders: electric utilities; city, regional, and state governments; and EV charger manufacturers. EV owners may also want the opportunity to share their input on location and availability of charging stations.

In this article, we compare EV ownership and fuel availability across five US states: New York, New Jersey, Oregon, California, and Texas. These states represent some of the most populous states across the country, in a variety of regions, plus Prescient’s home state of Oregon. Let’s take a closer look.

Electric Vehicle Ownership Today

Table one shows the total number of registered motor vehicles compared to registered electric vehicles in the states listed above. Total population, as counted in the 2022 census and rounded to the nearest thousand, is also included.

Table one shows the total number of registered motor vehicles compared to registered electric vehicles in New York, New Jersey, Oregon, California, and Texas.

As you can see, population does not directly correlate with EV ownership. Regional philosophies and political ideologies also play a part. However, as EVs continue to improve in performance and battery capacity, and electrification increases across industries, EVs are likely to expand across every region.

Fuel Options Today

There are just over 110,000 gas stations across the US today. In comparison, there are only about 50,000 EV charging stations across the country. Table two shows the fuel availability, and number of vehicles that will use each fuel source, in New York, New Jersey, Oregon, California, and Texas.

Table two shows the fuel availability, and number of vehicles that will use each fuel source, in New York, New Jersey, Oregon, California, and Texas.

When electric utilities and other stakeholders see comparisons like these, they may be discouraged from investing in additional EV charging stations. It’s important to keep in mind that these are present day numbers (2020-2022).

As EV ownership expands over the next decade, the number of EVs per charging station will increase. Therefore, the number of commercial EV charging stations must also increase. The location of charging stations must be considered as well, so that consumers can easily access charging stations wherever they drive.

EV Owner Expectations, State by State

EV owners will want to use their vehicles in a variety of ways, including commutes to and from work, shopping and grocery trips, weekend outings to local destinations, and longer excursions, even across state lines. Though usage style will remain similar across the United States, each state has a unique set of needs and expectations for commercial charging station availability.

East Coast: New York and New Jersey

EV users in New York City may drive from Manhattan to the Catskill Mountains in upper NY, or to the Pocono Mountains in PA, both of which are about 100 miles away. New Yorkers may also venture to Niagara Falls, a trip that is about 400 miles each way. EV owners will expect commercial charging stations to be available at each of these destinations, with additional charging available at the midpoint to Niagara Falls.

New Jersey EV owners may drive from Trenton to beach towns like Atlantic City, about 90 miles away, or to Cape May, about 120 miles away, and back again in a few days. Or drivers may bring their EVs from other states to vacation at New Jersey beaches. Beach towns must have extra capacity for EV charging because of the summer tourist season.

West Coast: Oregon and California

In Oregon, Portland area EV drivers often travel to distant locations within the state: Astoria, Bend, Pendleton, or Ashland. These destinations range from 100 to 300 miles and require drivers to cross mountain ranges. EV drivers will want charging stations available in remote locations to ensure they can complete their journeys.

California can expect EV owners and drivers to travel hundreds of miles in a single trip. Attractions like Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, and Lake Tahoe draw visitors from within the state and across the country, some of whom may rent EVs once in California. Like Oregon, California will need charging stations in remote areas. Additionally, as large cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco experience increased tourism, they will need to implement charging stations accordingly.

Central US: Texas

In Texas, EV owners may wish to drive from Dallas to Padre Island, a distance of 440 miles. A trip from Dallas to Austin, which some Texans drive for work monthly or even weekly, is almost 200 miles one way. Here again, EVs may need to cross remote stretches of land in which EV charging stations must be readily available.

Electric utilities must work with stakeholders in all these locations to ensure that enough energy will be available to power electric vehicles, especially during tourist season. The number of commercial charging stations in each of the states examined above must be based on the number of vehicles needing to be recharged during a three-day period during the peak of travel season.

Locals and tourists alike should be invited to complete surveys sponsored by electric utilities, so that they can voice their opinions on commercial EV charging availability.

Commercial EV Charging Expanded

In the not-too-distant future, there will be at least 250,000 EV charging stations across the US, boasting over 1 million high-capacity Level 3 chargers. Some of these charging stations will be completely new installations; others may be built as part of an existing gas station. Many may even have onsite energy storage facilities. With lots of potential and room for expansion, the future of electric vehicles is exciting.

Prescient is here to help electric utilities and other stakeholders create a plan to implement increased commercial EV charging in their service areas. Contact us to schedule a consultation for more information on our EV Preparedness Analysis service.

This article was written in collaboration with Prescient's Lead Editor Alyssa Sleva-Horine.

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