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Mar 28 2023

Electric vehicles (EVs) are continuing to grow in popularity due to their environmental friendliness, cost savings, lower maintenance, and improved performance. However, one of the greatest obstacles holding back the worldwide adoption of EVs is infrastructure limitations for charging stations, especially in the U.S.

According to the Center for Sustainable Energy, “the majority of current EV owners charge at home, but to support mass adoption of EVs, including people who can’t charge at home or at work, the U.S. will need to build hundreds of thousands of charging stations.” As of 2022, only 65.9% of US households are occupied by owners (source: Statista), leaving more than 30% of US residents without the option for home charging.

This article will take a deep dive into what the EV charging landscape looks like right now, including the different types of charging, the current state of charging infrastructure, and the future of EVs.

How EV charging works

EV charging is much more involved than pumping gas. The most important aspect to understand about charging is the types of charging and the different connection types.

Types of EV charging

There are three main types of EV charging:

  1. AC Level 1 – This is the slowest and simplest level of charging which is typically done at home using a regular wall outlet. Charging an EV battery to full capacity with AC Level 1 charging can take up to 24 hours. Level 1 charging is best suited for homeowners who don’t drive often, or for long distances.
  2. AC Level 2 – This is the median level of charging which is typically done either at home with a 208-240 volt circuit (same outlet used for electric dryers) or at public charging stations such as work or a shopping center. Charging an EV battery to full capacity with AC Level 2 charging takes 5-6 hours and is still not the best option for quick stops. Level-2 charging is suitable for most EVs and can provide a full charge overnight.
  3. DC Fast Charging (Level 3) – This is the quickest level of charging, which is most effective for quick stops, such as running errands. DC fast charging can charge an EV battery to 80% in less than 20-30 mins. However, this charging option is not as widely available as level 2 charging, currently available at ~14% of US public charging stations (source: Alternative Fuels Data Center).

Connection types

Understanding EV connection types is similar to understanding the different types of phone chargers. There are 4 major EV charging connection types used in the North American EV market:

  1. SAE J1772 – the J1772 connector, aka the J-plug, was developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and is exclusively used for level 1 and level 2 charging. This is the universal connection type for all EV charging stations in North America, including Tesla with the use of an adapter. 
  2. CCS – The CCS (Combined Charging System) uses the J1772 charging plug on the top, combined with the two pins below for DC fast charging. The CCS connector is used by most EV manufacturers in the North American market, other than select Nissan and Mitsubishi EV models (for now).
  3. CHAdeMo – The CHAdeMo connector is the official Japanese DC fast charging standard. The Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are the only remaining EV models to use this connection in the North American market, though it appears they will be phasing them out very soon.
  4. Tesla – To state the obvious, Tesla connectors are exclusively for Tesla EVs. This connector is shared for levels 1, 2, and 3 (DC fast charging, aka supercharging). While Tesla EVs can charge at any public station with a J1772 adapter, other EV brands do not have the option to leverage Tesla supercharging stations due to Tesla’s authentication process.

The state of EV charging infrastructure

The availability and accessibility of charging infrastructure vary greatly depending on geographic location. As an example, several European countries, including Norway and the Netherlands, are leading the charge (pun intended) of EV adoption with widely available public charging stations and fast charging networks, while some developing countries have limited charging infrastructure, hindering EV adoption.

The United States, though quite a few steps behind Europe and many other regions of the world, has continued to expand its charging infrastructure with 51,768 public charging stations, totaling 133,412 ports as of March 2023 (according to the: Alternative Fuels Data Center). Most of these charging stations are level 2, with only 7,087 of those 51,768 stations equipped with DC fast charging.

The US government has taken initiative to further expand EV infrastructure, including the Biden administration’s proposed $7.5 billion investment to build 500k EV charging stations by 2030. However, there are still many challenges standing in the way of public charging expansion, including high up-front costs, limited access to public land, and the need for grid upgrades to handle increased electricity demand.

The challenges for EV owners

Aside from the insufficient number of public charging stations in comparison to petrol stations and the time it takes to charge, there are additional concerns that EV owners will need to consider, including:


Cost is often a factor in the adoption of any new technology. Drivers that must rely on public charging could end up spending a premium on charging depending on the type of station, location, and time of day. Additionally, at-home charging options aren’t always cheap depending on the region and utility company.

EV public charging cost

Given the variables of public charging costs, it’s impossible to give a single price. However, if we look at EVgo’s “Pay As You Go” fast charging option, specifically for Massachusetts, it costs $0.41 per kWh plus a $0.99 fee per session. EVs typically get 3-4 miles per kWh, which translates to ~57 kWh for every 200 miles (average EV range). In this example, consumers would be paying just over $24 per “fill-up” (0-100% charge).

EV charging vs. gas prices

Based on the example given above, although on the higher end, the price isn’t much different than the cost of gas. Sticking with Massachusetts, gas is currently averaging $3.27 per gallon. According to the EPA’s estimate of a 26.4 mpg fleetwide real-world average in the 2022 model year (source), 200 miles of gas range would cost $24.77. The difference between these two examples is a matter of cents.

Saving on EV charging

EV drivers that rely solely on public charging would likely sign up for a monthly membership which would cost significantly less than the ~$24 pay-as-you-go rate. And some EV drivers may be able to offset public charging costs with free charging, though typically less available and more time-consuming.

At-home EV charging cost

Even at-home charging can be costly. The national average electricity rate is currently $0.23 per kWh, with some states, including MA, averaging as much as $0.31 per kWh (source). Using the same 200-mile range average (~57 kWh), home “fill-ups” could cost nearly $18 on the higher end. Depending on the location and utility company, this kWh rate is subject to vary and is often cheaper overnight in “off-peak” hours when EV charging most commonly occurs.

Charging Compatibility

As mentioned previously, there is a lack of charging standardization across EV manufacturers which adds another layer of complexity to the already limited public charging availability. While certain charging adapters can help address this challenge, charging incompatibility can be inconvenient and confusing for EV owners. 

Reliability of charging stations

As public charging has limited availability, it’s essential that these stations remain operational. An out-of-service EV charging station, or connector, can be quite inconvenient, especially for those fully relying on public charging, or planning their long-distance trips around specific charging stations.

The Future of EV Charging

Despite the challenges slowing the adoption of EVs, there are many initiatives to move the needle in the right direction. The US government, private companies, and even utility providers have been working together to improve EV charging infrastructure and make charging more affordable:

  1. As mentioned, the US government has proposed a $7.5 billion investment to install 500,000 EV charging stations across the country by 2030. Additionally, they are offering tax incentives to individuals and businesses to encourage charging station development on private land.
  2. Charging networks such as ChargePoint, ElectrifyAmerica, and EVgo are working with businesses to install chargers in their parking lots/garages, as well as Tesla’s vast supercharger network that supports long-distance travel and helps reduce range anxiety for Tesla owners.
  3. There are several private and municipality-owned utility companies that are offering discounts in the form of bill credits or decreased “off-peak” hour rates for EV owners to save money on at-home charging.
  4. Charging innovations such as wireless charging and NASA-led charging speed upgrades are in the works right now to make charging more convenient for EV adopters.

In summary, the US is making significant strides in improving EV charging infrastructure. With the continued collaboration of our government, EV manufacturers, charging networks, and utility companies, we should see quite a bit of growth in the coming years.

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