How Many EV Charging Stations Will We Need When We’re All Electric?

Buyers curious about making the switch to electric vehicles have made it clear in survey after survey after survey: Charging freaks them out.

Many drivers report that owning an electric vehicle is comparable to, if not better than, owning a gas-powered vehicle. However, filling up an electric car is different and, depending on where you live, may be inconvenient. For this reason, even people who are interested in purchasing an electric car may find it frightening.

Most modern American electric vehicle owners charge their vehicles at home, yet over 20% of householdslack access to regular off-street parking that allows them to leave their vehicles plugged in overnight. Meanwhile, there are issues with the public charging network, which is not always reliable. Drivers have reported that chargers aren’t always in good working order.

The good news is that the US has a charging problem, as acknowledged by governments, automakers, and other policy players. They favor the use of electric vehicles by more people. Lawmakers understand that switching from gas-powered to zero-emission electric vehicles will be crucial to preventing the worst effects of climate change, which is why automakers are pushing for consumers to purchase EVs.

According to data gathered by the US Department of Energy, the number of public and private charging ports and charging stations in the US has more than doubled since 2020 because of the early efforts to transition to EVs. Currently, 240 more stations are being planned. Contrast it with the gas infrastructure of today: In the United States, there are around 145,000 gas stations, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

The question then becomes: How many more charging stations would the US need to add if we could just snap our fingers and make every car electric?

Coltura, a research and advocacy group for alternative fuels, employed statisticians to crunch the data.

What was the final result of all that data manipulation? The country has to construct a huge number of chargers before it reaches full electrification, which experts estimate should happen in the 2040s. However, the work might not be as impossible as it appears.

According to Coltura’s statistics and policy associate Ron Barzilay and executive director Matthew Metz, the organization will need to add public chargers by a factor of six. Metz replies, “We’re not necessarily off-track.”

Many analysts predict that some areas of the world will continue to use gas-powered cars for some time to come, even as the world rushes toward complete electrification.

Most experts don’t think that most drivers would cleanly replace their gas station habit with a public charging habit, which contributes to the estimates’ optimistic outlook on public charging. Alternatively, according to Metz and Barzilay, 70% of drivers’ charging needs will be satisfied by home charging, and 90% of dwelling units will have EV chargers. People who plug in at work may fulfill an additional 10% of their needs. Coltura predicts that the remaining 20% of the charging will take place at those public charging stations, with the DC fast chargers—which are now the fastest on the market—making up about 70% of those stations.

The present is crucial, argues Barzilay. He states that “we’re unsure about what type of tech will be available” when full electrification occurs because making predictions about the future is difficult. It’s possible that a quicker, more efficient standard will have replaced today’s top-of-the-line fast chargers, which can charge a car from empty to 80% in around 20 minutes, by the time the entire country is using EVs. If such were the case, the nation’s situation would be considerably better than expected.

Subscribe to Technology This Week