Switching to an electric vehicle is out of reach for many Americans, experts have warned, as over a third of US counties do not have a public charging port.
In particular, those living in low income areas are facing exclusion from the charging network, analysis by Bumper has revealed, with more than 70 percent of America’s public charge ports located in the wealthiest counties.
This disparity is also stark according to state lines, with Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Alabama having the lowest number of charge ports per capita, according to the study.
President Biden’s EV push aims to have two-thirds of new vehicle sales be electric by 2032 – but a lack of infrastructure means that many areas are at risk of being woefully underprepared to meet this target.
It comes as seven major car manufacturers including General Motors and Stellantis, announced a plan earlier this week to install at least 30,000 chargers in a $1 billion effort to ease the shortage, which deters many consumers from choosing an eco alternative. The new stations, which will begin opening in summer 2024, will support both Tesla’s North American Charging Standard – currently the industry’s largest – and the competing Combined Charging System.
Biden’s administration has set a target requiring that two-thirds of new vehicle sales be electric by 2032
Kerry Sherin, consumer advocate data analyst at Bumper, told DailyMail.com how it is crucial that these automakers consider the communities that have so far been left behind when planning additions to the network.
‘What I hope for is that down to the local level, city, state, county and government officials partner with some of these automakers that are going to invest in the bigger network to really get those access points to underrepresented communities,’ she said.
A lack of ports deters many consumers from choosing an EV. Drivers, particularly in more rural areas, do not want to risk being stranded without somewhere to charge their car.
Some owners choose to install a home charging station but this can be an expensive choice – on top of the cost of the car itself which tends to be just shy of $20,000 more expensive than a gas equivalent in the current market.
According to Barrons, the popular JuiceBox 40 runs about $650, and the ChargePoint Home Flex, about $750. Installation costs vary from about $1,000 to $6,000 depending on how close the charger is to your home’s electrical panel, and whether you need a new panel and electrical upgrade.
As of March this year, there were 131,195 charge ports at 51,012 publicly accessible EV charging stations in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
According to Bumper, of the 3,143 counties and county equivalents in the US, 36 percent – some 1,146 counties – are without public EV charging stations.
For example, Catron County in New Mexico, Owyhee County in Idaho and Jim Hogg County in Texas do not have a single charging station.
The study found that 71.68 percent of charge ports are located in the top fifth of counties based on income – where the majority of residents earn over $35,331 a year.
Many are located in hotspot urban areas such as Los Angeles, Miami and Washington DC.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Alabama having the lowest number of charge ports per capita, according to the study
On average, it found there are currently 2.94 EV charge ports per 10,000 people in the US. The top fifth of counties when ranked by per capita income, however, have an average of 5.67 EV charge ports per 10,000 people – nearly twice the national average.
The analysis also showed that nearly 95.6 percent of EV chargers are in counties with majority white populations, compared to 4 percent in counties with predominantly black populations.
‘It may not be hugely surprising that many of the charging stations are in the wealthiest counties in the US,’ said Sherin, ‘as those are the people right now who are able to afford EVs.’
There are also a higher concentration of charging stations in more urban areas as there are more car owners, she pointed out, but those people are less likely to suffer from the same ‘range anxiety’ as residents in more rural areas as they tend not to travel as far.
Kerry Sherin, consumer advocate data analyst at Bumper, said she hopes the network expands to take in excluded areas
‘When you start to get to some suburban urban areas – particularly in lower income or communities that are not primarily white – then you start to see a complete lack of EV chargers,’ she continued.
‘How could someone in a lower income bracket not only afford an EV, but actually be able to charge a car at a public station nearby?
‘If we’re going to have a majority adoption of EVs, then we need to make them accessible, available and make sense for the majority of Americans.
‘If there is a charger every 200 miles – or even every 500 miles – on a road and the consumer knows that, at least that will give them the confidence to buy an EV.’
There is also a clear state-by-state disparity when it comes to charging ports, the study found.
Louisiana, where residents have an average yearly income of $26,230, ranked the worst in the country for the number of EV charge ports per 10,000 people at 0.5 – far below the national average.
Mississippi and Kentucky both have a meagre 0.7 ports per 10,000 of the population, and Alabama has 0.9.
Illinois, Arkansas and Idaho, the study found, have 1, 1.2, and 1.3 ports per 10,000 people respectively.
Nevada, on the other hand, where the typical yearly income is $32,501, has 17.6 charge ports per 10,000 people – nearly five times the national average – making it the top state for chargers per capita.
This is followed by Colorado, which has 12.9 ports per 10,000 people, Vermont, which has 12.8 ports and California which has 12.3 ports per 10,000 of the population.
It comes as electric vehicle sales growth has begun to slow in the US, despite the Government offering federal tax credits for some electric vehicles.
According to data from researcher Motor Intelligence, sales of plug-in models grew by nearly 50 percent in the first half of the year – down from the 65 percent growth rate for all of 2022.
Sherin hopes that this might mean the upfront costs of EVs could begin to slip.
‘If we see the cost come down and the network increase across the country, that is when we will really see EV adoption take off in the US,’ she said.