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It’s easy to think that electric cars are for other people who live in different places. Many EVs don’t even sell in every state and buying a can position yourself on a political and cultural spectrum which conventional cars are less emblematic of. My inbox is full of surveys claiming to reveal the “best places to own an EV,” but S&P Global Mobility predicts that the four states with the most plug-in cars in use today still will. by 2030 are: California, Florida, Texas and New York, thanks in part to their large populations.
What makes the “best place” question interesting is that the next and much bigger wave of EV curious buyers will take a hard look at life with these cars: if they live in a place where it’s harder to buy, pay, charge or service and repair an electric car, they will likely cross the showroom to an efficient gas-powered car. The will mean little to the shopper who foresees the daily hassle of using the thing.
EV-friendliness starts with the perception of charging locations, especially among EV investors who don’t have a home to equip with charging equipment. “Charging stations are not installed in the US, they are not even installed in New Mexico or Colorado; they are installed on Main St. & 7th,” says Mark Boyadjis, Global Technology Leader of the Automotive Advisory Team at S&P Global Mobilityunderlining the very local nature of EV friendliness.
In addition to public charging locations, a stew of regional incentives for home chargers, utility tariff scheduleslocal penetration of and the state’s purchase incentives are creating a stew of EV lust that’s more nuanced than a simple chart of charging locations can reveal.
The current skewed collection of states where plug-in cars are most prevalent emphasizes the awkwardness of that view. In Texas, where several automakers put much of their annual success on selling traditional large gasoline and diesel trucks, any Austinite can tell you their subway is lousy with Teslas?† The Dallas-Fort Worth metro is expected to be the fastest growing in the country in plug-in adoption. Teslas swarm like grasshoppers in California’s Silicon Valley, but may need to be towed to a charge in much of the north of the state†
“Our consumer research shows that a large majority of people still feel that there is insufficient charging infrastructure in their place of residence,” Boyadjis says. that are there. But it may not be where they want to be.”
Unlike gas refueling, charging electric cars can take a lot of time at a charging location. The history of gasoline-powered cars would have turned out very differently if refueling involved walking idly through the aisles of a minimarket for 30 minutes. owning ais a major breaking point in perception, but in leggy parts of the West where many things are an hour or two away, even that breaks.
EV-friendliness is clearly lumpy in these early days, as evidenced by data from the US Environmental Protection Agency indicating that the number of charging ports or connections is growing much faster than the number of locations where they are hosted. That suggests that places that already have charging locations are seeing demand for more slots and many EV owners installing their own charging equipment at home, but seems less about robust growth into areas that have no charging locations at all.
It’s been a long time since car buyers had to think very carefully about living in a place that allowed car ownership: refueling has long been ubiquitous, as has service and repair for all but a few exotics. And every state has a dealer network that has had decades to match locations and inventory to demand for makes or models. EVs will reach that point, but in the next decade we will see the history of automatic adoption unfold for the second time in a long time.