Public Charger Count Still Far Too Low and Unevenly Distributed in Midwest

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 16

Chargers in Midwest

Chargers in Midwest

The US Department of Energy says there are approximately 6,416 public charging stations in the US.

Regional US Map

Regional US Map

The problem is that, of those 6,416, a large percentage can be found in one state (California: 1,387), which leaves parts of the nation with few chargers.

We think the Midwest is a prime example of the lack of evenly distributed chargers in the US.

Here’s the public charger count rundown for the Midwest states:

  • Michigan: 229
  • Illinois: 218
  • Wisconsin: 93
  • Ohio: 84
  • Minnesota: 74
  • Indiana: 69
  • Missouri: 57
  • Kansas: 41
  • Iowa: 40
  • Nebraska: 12
  • South Dakota: 4
  • North Dakota: 2

As we see it, only 2 of those states have even a decent amount of charging stations.  The rest are below 100, which we see as inadequate.

Furthermore, most of the public chargers are located in and around major cities.  There’s virtually no support for plug-in vehicles in outlying areas.  This surely restricts sales.

What we’d like to see is for charging stations to be evenly spaced across the country (sort of like how gas stations are).  Then, additional stations could be added in densely populated areas and parts of the country with a significant number of plug-ins.

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16 responses to "Public Charger Count Still Far Too Low and Unevenly Distributed in Midwest"

  1. Mark H says:

    The simple fact is some states like MT. WY, CO, ND, SD, NE will be slow to adapt to EVs and for multiple reasons. For one there is a lot of open range with smaller populations with the exception of their cities.

    Take CO for instance. Denver is very progressive so much so that many of the ranchers in the rest of the state talk of succession. Take Denver away and the rest would be the smallest state in the union in population.

    What I suppose Eric is opting for in the two hundred word article is “passage” through those states. Again, the state itself has little desire to support that. Now you might argue that this would be good use of federal monies to provide quick chargers (once a standard is chosen) along major highways in those areas. Now of course the argument would be made for federal grants to provide the complete national infrastructure.

    I am a large EV advocate, and I see plenty of applications for BEVs. Driving cross country (unless you own a Tesla) just isn’t one of them yet. This is why the Volt and the BMW i3 is the right EREV for many for it can handle this task. There are literally HUNDREDS of different ICE models and currently fourteen EVs with many more on the way. There is not one EV that fits all and that includes driving across areas that are charger free UNLESS you are in a PHEV or EREV. In some of these areas, it will be unsafe even for a Tesla, but not the Chevy Volt, BMW i3, PiP etc.

    I watch the monthly EV sales every month. I can’t wait until everybody has one. I read every article Jay Cole and Tony Williams write on quick charger standards. As anxious as we all are for a national grid of chargers, I for one will wait until a standard emerges to build this infrastructure out too fast and then have to build it all over again. Now THAT will slow down the adoption of EVs.

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      Several major problems with some of these Midwestern states is that a lot of them are very vast and rural such as I remember going driving though some of them and you could easily drive a 100 miles and not see any real towns or good places to stop. A car that gets 80 miles on a battery charge and takes 20 minutes to recharge would have a really hard time in a lot of these places.

      A example of this is the Upper Peninsula of MI in that it takes 400 plus miles to drive from the top of it in Houghton MI to Chicago or a full days driving to go from one end of it to the other. The only catch is that the whole region is made up of very small towns with one or two small cities. All of these small towns can be anywhere from a 100 miles to 60 miles apart. And if you had a EV with a 80 mile range in a lot cases you would have to have a charging station out along the road in the middle of the woods with nothing around it. And to add to this there is a lot of very deep snow and extreme cold during the wintertime.

      I did go check out several of the towns in this place and the only car that could handle something like this would be a 85killwatt Tesla Model S that could drive between the vast distances of the towns of the UP and be able to make it to each of the towns to recharge without stopping in between. These vast rural distances are a major pro berm for EV’s and not really about politics in that a lot of rural areas would have trouble with this even if they where full EV supporters.

      1. Mark H says:

        “These vast rural distances are a major pro berm for EV’s and not really about politics in that a lot of rural areas would have trouble with this even if they where full EV supporters.”

        You are 100% correct on why these areas are not dotted with chargers BUT it doesn’t mean they can not be part of the EV revolution.

        Almost half of the EVs available are PHEVs or EREVs which will work fine in these areas without infrastructure. If the BEV works buy the BEV, but know for now there are other options.

        Even our fearless JC is considering an EREV.

  2. Rick says:

    Most of the Tea Party states don’t need charges, they hate technology, just with gun stores every other block is OK.

    1. Spec says:

      Dude, the mid-West is not T-party territory. That is more the South and Mountain-west. The populated mid-west states (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc.) are largely blue.

  3. GSP says:

    I think getting more DC fast chargers, in addition to more J1772 AC plugs, would be very helpful to EV adoption. The fast chargers are even harder to find in the Midwest.

    Installing dual ChadeMo/J1772Combo DC stations will solve the charging standards issue, so no reason not to start deploying DC chargers now.


  4. John says:

    I’m an EV owner in Madison Wisconsin. I’m always disappointed about the high level of ignorance that coastal people have about the Midwest, both in term of politics and geography. For example, calling the entire Midwest a “tea party state”. Huh? Take a closer look at the maps that are published during presidential elections. Also Illinois has 2x the population of Wisconsin, so the per-capita number of chargers is almost the same.

    Anyways, when you leave your vitriolic comments about the Midwest or the south, remember that there are lots of EV supporters there as well, and you’re hurting your own cause. Exclusion isn’t the best way to gain support.

  5. Dave R says:

    Even in California it can be challenging to find a charging station where you need one, especially if you need a DCQC.

  6. kdawg says:

    “What we’d like to see is for charging stations to be evenly spaced across the country (sort of like how gas stations are). Then, additional stations could be added in densely populated areas and parts of the country with a significant number of plug-ins.”

    You need L2 chargers in places where people park for a couple hours (work, shopping, parking decks).

    You need L3 chargers evenly spaced out like gas stations. There’s no point to putting an L2 charger out in the middle of nowhere.

    Put the chargers where the people are first and the major destinations. Fill in the rest later.

  7. Spec says:

    C’mon Minnesota, don’t let those Cheeseheads beat you!

  8. Ocean Railroader says:

    I really would like to see a chain of Level 3 DC fast chargers and Tesla superchargers built along most of the major interstates in the Midwest that would at least make it possible to drive or relocate a electric car from one city to the other which would be a big improvement.

  9. MrEnergyCzar says:

    Once stores, hotels or restaurants realize chargers will attract more customers, they’ll install them…


  10. @Eric, you state that “a large percentage can be found in one state”. While California has 1,387 of 6,416 (~22%) of chargers, the state has aprox. 35-40% of PEVs are registered in U.S. Too many chargers, or too few public chargers per EV?

    The answer is: it depends! How many PEVs are register in the (above) Midwest states? It also depends on model of EV. Example Tesla will install 90% charger coverage for Model S owners in all continental states by late 2014.

    Counting chargers of all types by state is not a good metric. Example in California there are over 4700 Model S Tesla’s. At Level 2 public charger, a S can charge at 10-20 MRPH (Miles Range Per Hour). At Tesla home charger it’s upto 60 MRPH, and 250-500 MRPH at SuperCharger. Looking at total charged miles for Model S in California, <5% were provided by Level 2 public chargers. Illinois prior to June 2013 had more CHAdeMO chargers (14) than California, mostly in Chicago area. A CHAdeMO charger delivers ~40x the amount of energy in a month compared to Level 2 charger (ref: Should a Level 2, a CHAdeMO, or a SuperCharger station be counted equally? Probably not; as not all EVs can use equally.

    6,571 Charge Stations (note: sites have multiple chargers) — Dept of Energy:
    20,138 Chargers (as of May 2013) — PlugShare/ReCargo:

    PlugShare allows filtering by charger type. For regional travel, charging rates of greater than 20 kW/h is the minimum practical. i.e. The charging rate in MRPH should be at least the speed of travel. Any slower means waiting an hour on charging for each hour of travel beyond home range. A MRPH that provides 80% range in 30 min. is were chargers for travel start to become practical.

    Note: most chargers listed by Dept. of Energy are chargers making use of commercial stations. There are a number of public non-commercial public (no access, nor payment requirements) that are not listed on Dept of Energy database. Without payment processing services, the cost of charging hardware for the host can be 1/3 to 1/4 the cost, making them ideal for low use locations. Level 2 is great for opportunity charging, but less so for regional travel.

    Picking the right charger and right site location is something that requires a regional stratergy to avoid poor insulations. A regional stratergy also helps ensure stations are future-proofed for the next 3-5 years.

    1. Mark H says:

      Your response is a great educational article by itself. You should submit for publishing.

  11. Bloggin says:

    Looking at the use frequency of ‘public charging’ stations may give a clue as to their numbers is certain areas.

    Michigan has a higher number of charging stations because that ‘public’ charging’ number includes workplace chargers installed by GM and Ford that is FREE to employees. So their Volt, Spark EV, C-Max Energi, Fusion Energi, Focus Electric plug-ins can charge up at home for a buck or two, and fully charge up at work for free for the trip back home on a daily basis.

    Once back home charging up again for the next trip if needed. Once plug-in owners get over the need for someone to see them plugging in their vehicle, they realize it’s not worth the effort also.

    The major growth in ‘public’ charging going forward, will continue to be with workplace chargers.

  12. Bill says:

    Why install expensive charging stations that are free to use, when all an EV needs to charge is an outlet? A 240V plug has got to be far less expensive to install than a charging “station”. Most EV drivers carry around portable EVSE’s and adapters and would be perfectly happy with just an outlet. EV’s will charge up for a buck or two worth of electricity, and at that, the thousands of dollars not spent on “stations” will buy a lot of electricity and good will among employees and customers who drive electric.