Public EV Charge Stations Surpass Gas Stations in Five Years

MAR 27 2013 BY MARK HOVIS 13

Its been a long time coming, its gonna be a long time gone

It’s been a long time coming, it’s gonna be a long time gone…

The total number of EVSEs will surpass the total number of gas stations by 2017

EVSEs on the Rise

EVSEs on the Rise

For the EV enthusiast, this is one of the small milestones that we live for.  Though the comparison is really “apples and oranges” , it gives an opportunity to look at the status of the emerging market. InsideEVs Mike Buchanan previously posted a report from Frost and Sullivan showing our first glimpse of  the raw numbers.

Per the US Census Bureau of 6.13.2012, there were 121,446 gasoline fueling stations in the US. This down from 200,000 in 1994. The rise of  this infrastructure has taken years. So how are EV charging stations coming?

2010 marked the beginning of the new EV revolution with only the Tesla Roadster, the Nissan Leaf, and the Chevy Volt on the way. The number of US EVSEs (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment also known as  EV charging stations)  was probably less than 500. By the close of 2011, the number of public EVSEs had grown by a factor of 10x to nearly 5,000.  According to Pike Research, 2012 global EVSEs totaled 200,000 with a predicted rise to 2,400,000 by 2020.

Parsing the Numbers 

Fight for the top

Fight for the top

Pike Research forecasts that by 2017, there will be more than 1.5 million EVSEs in the US with 1 million being home EVSEs and most of them Level 1 chargers. Compared against 121,446 gas stations and falling, we are rapidly moving toward a day where EVSEs will equal that of the pump. Could we truly be five years away from competing with the gas powered infrastructure? For clarity, there is no perfect comparison in that there is no representation for the number of “pumps” at a station. EVs still make up less than one percent of the market. However, 1.5 million EVSEs would be formidable no matter how you parse the numbers. Though comparing the number of public EVSEs to gas stations really is comparing apples to oranges, any number over 100,000 public EVSEs speaks well of the commitment to public charging and will go a long way toward establishing the electric highway.

Legal Issues

In some states, our US legal system is not quite up to speed with the rapid implementation of public charging with rules limiting the sale of electric energy by the kWh (kilowatt hour).  This has been addressed in California by the California Public Utilities Commission in their ruling that EV charging stations are not to be classified as public utilities.

2013 Milestone

Currently 80% of EV charging happens in the home. The total number of ESVEs (public and private) will most likely surpass the total number of gas filling stations in 2013.  A Northwestern University study in April 2011 stated 56,000 EVs (mostly retrofits)  in the US.  The combined 2011-2012  EV sales were approximately 70,000. This would most likely account for 100,000+ ESVEs with this number rising 5000 monthly.  Again, that does not equal the number of pumps at all stations, but it will equal the number of places an EV has to go to charge given it primarily exists in the form of a home EVSE. Passing the 100,000 US EV or EVSE mark is yet one more milestone in itself on the path to the electric highway.

There are a number of 10-20 mile PHEVs entering the market such as the Ford Fusion, Ford C-Max, Honda Accord, Toyota Prius PiP to name a few. The effective commute of these vehicles can easily be doubled by having access to a L1 (110 v) plug in at their destination.  If employees communicate the need for such simple EVESs, they will easily provide 30-40 additional miles to their commute.

100,000 public chargers combined with your own personal EVSE? Scratch range anxiety off of the list of reasons not to buy your first EV when that milestone is passed.




Categories: Charging


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13 Comments on "Public EV Charge Stations Surpass Gas Stations in Five Years"

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Bill Howland

This must be a california thing. Haven’t seen in the Buffalo NY area a new public recharge point in 2 years.

Mark H
Bill, What have you heard about the plan for 10,000 in New York City?

Bill Howland

Hi Mark

NYC is further away from Buffalo, NY than Sacramento. Buffalo is much closer to Chicago, that is before Rahm Emanuel ruined it. I have no Idea what Bloomberg is doing in his mini “Police State”.

David Murray

The number of Public EVSEs in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area grew rapidly for about a year, then stopped. I think it will not grow much until there are lot more EVs on the road.


The growing number is really great, but if they are not located where needed to make a trip then the range anxiety persists. If they are occupied, ICEd, restricted in space or time, or out of service, range anxiety persists. If they are unreasonably priced (i.e. $3/hour or $0.49/kWh for a L2) then range anxiety persists.

Damn range anxiety!

Mark H

There was definitely a slow down in 2012 and I personally can not see 500,000 in that period of time. These surveys have always been off by at least a factor of two, but if they added even 50,000 from the current 6,000+ and start to crack down on getting ICEd, I think it would really start to show. From the guy who drives a PHEV….. lol


A bit misleading. Gas stations maybe, but not gas pumps…

Mark H

The point being there is no comparison. We want it to be, but it does not exist. The article does point out twice that it is not gas pumps. Even if such a number existed (and I could not find it in my meager search) it will still be a meaningless number. Again, it is apples and oranges. It was meant to make you think about the emergence of EVs, not to mislead. Apologies if the latter…


I rather think a more interesting comparison would be by volume/power delivered. In an analysis like that, we could potentially see where an interesting demand/usage parity point exists. Gas stations deliver x gallons of petrol each period (wk, mo, year) and EVSEs deliver x kWhs of power for the same period. In both cases, idle EVSEs and idle gas stations are of little use to anyone, regardless of the quantity. And while a gas station may have two little used pumps, or twenty pumps often with a queue, an EVSE could be a 110v cordset (trickle), or a Tesla supercharger (firehose).

Bill Howland

Taking Mark H’s point, since it is SO cheap to have a 120 volt “level 1” charging point
(Most of the time just go up to an existing outdoor outlet, and put a $75 “Electric Cars Only” sign, and Voila!!! youve got a new EV charging spot) !!!

I dont even see any of those, especially since new public building HAVE to have them to get a LEES certification. As I’ve explained many times, then don’t particularly worry about having them work ok. The 3 new outlets in a parking lot of a new art gallery (3 was the minimum required to get a LEES certification), but at 250 feet from the building, my Tesla constanly accuses me of using an extension cord, and I have to lower the charging rate from 15 to 12 amps to get the Tesla to charge at all… Volts should be no problem. I hear anything over 86 volts at the car and the car will start charging.

Mark H

Good points Bill. I am thinking that with all of the 10-20 mile PHEVs comming online, Ford Fusion, Ford C-Max, Honda Accord, Toyota PiP, etc., will find that they actually need a little juice. The thing that Bill points out well here is there will be no EV etiquette going on at these spots. You put one or two of these beside the L2 and expand for this new wave of PHEVs. I really hope that private business will step up and add some L1 chargers.

I am more concerned about Bills original post of what is going on with the L2 public chargers. It looks like California is ramping up as you would expect. A nice move out of Colorado is brewing. I thought New York city was in at 10,000 and would love to know what you hear out of that. In the south, Atlanta, DC, and the research triangle Raleigh-Durham are coming along nicely. Hey, we even have a full line of “Sprinter” electric-hybrid buses in Charlotte as well as Charlotte Douglas airport! (not much to do with public chargers but I digress)

Super chargers? I guess we wait for tomorrow’s headlines……………….

Bill Howland


Thanks, I had heard NY State was going to put a level 2 charger at each rest stop along the NYState thruway, but then Brian Schwerdt tells me that got cancelled. Its frustrating since sometimes you just need a bit more juice to make your trip successful.

They don’t need to spend alot of money installing these things either. Just do what most homeowners do. Pick a Blank outside wall, and mount it to that. If that’s done 10 feet from the electric service installation costs will be nil.

As a for instance, say I wanted to visit Brian with my roadster. Its 320 miles round trip, so all I need is to get around 80 miles of charge anywhere along the way on either side (coming or going Buffalo to Syracuse).


Also when looking at ‘charging stations’, for EVs we must include homes. Unlike gas stations where homes don’t have a gasoline pump, the the ONLY option for ‘refueling’ is a public gas station.

But more EV ‘refueling’ will happen at home than out in public. Which means that every EV owner has a power outlet, and is their own ‘charging station’. And as more homeowners install solar to capture free and abundant energy, the cost of ‘refueling’ gets lower and lower.

All new homes should be built with solar integrated at some level.