Are we putting the cart before the horse?

By: Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC

Date Published: September 13, 2023

 As I think about the big push for electric vehicles in America and around the world by our country’s administration and climate activists; I have to ask if we are not putting the cart before the horse in building electric vehicles before we have adequate infrastructure in place to charge the electric vehicles.

What is the goal?

The Biden Administration has announced a goal to have 50% of all new car sales be electric vehicles by the year 2030. That’s only 7 years from now. As late as 2020 there were 14.9 million gasoline-engine cars sold in America which accounted for 89% of all new car sales. If those sales figures do not change then the goal is to have new car sales of electric vehicles to be 7.45 million in the next 7 years.

Keep in mind this is the Biden Administration Goal and the Biden Administration will not be around in 7 years (though a Democratic administration could be).

How realistic is this goal?

The first car to roll off an assembly line in America was in 1896. It was not until 1916 (some 20 years later) that 7.45 million cars were sold in America in one year.

Now when that first car rolled off the assembly line in 1896 there were no gasoline stations in America. The first gasoline station was opened in 1899 by Samuel Downer at 113 Frankfort Street in New York City. However, there is also evidence that another gasoline station was opened in Seattle, Washington in 1907 by a company called Standard Oil of California (SoCal).

Downer’s station was a small, one-pump operation that sold gasoline from barrels. It was not a success, and Downer closed it down after a few months.

SoCal’s station was more successful. It was located near a busy intersection and offered a wider variety of services, including car repairs and tire sales.

The opening of these two stations marked the beginning of the gasoline station industry in America. As the number of cars on the road increased, so did the number of gasoline stations. By the 1920s, gasoline stations were a common sight in American towns and cities. In fact, there were thousands of gas stations in America by the early 1920s.

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), there are more than 145,000 fueling stations across the United States. Of these, 127,588 are convenience stores selling fuel, while the rest are gas-only stations, grocery stores selling fuel, marinas, etc.

The state with the most gas stations is California, with over 10,000. Other states with a high number of gas stations include Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois.

The number of gas stations in the United States has been declining in recent years, due to a number of factors, including the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, more fuel-efficient cars, and stricter environmental regulations. However, the number of gas stations is still expected to remain high for the foreseeable future, as gasoline remains the primary fuel for most vehicles in the United States.

So, as you can see here … first it was the Automobile … then the gasoline stations. In other words, “the cart before the horse.”

So, now that we are getting into electric vehicles, how many charging stations are there in America?

Actually, I found these numbers to be quite impressive:

As of June 2023, there are over 130,000 public charging stations in the United States. This includes both fast chargers and slow chargers. The number of charging stations is growing rapidly, as the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing.

California has the most EV charging stations, with over 37,000. Other states with a high number of charging stations include Texas, Florida, New York, and Colorado.

The Biden administration has set a goal of installing 500,000 new EV charging stations by 2030. This is part of the administration’s effort to make EVs more accessible and affordable for Americans.

Here are some of the major EV charging networks in the United States:

  • Tesla Supercharger Network: Tesla’s own network of fast chargers.
  • EVgo: A public charging network with over 8,000 stations.
  • ChargePoint: A public charging network with over 60,000 stations.
  • Blink Charging: A public charging network with over 30,000 stations.
  • Electrify America: A public charging network backed by Volkswagen.

These networks are expanding rapidly, and it is becoming easier and easier to find an EV charging station in the United States.

Of the 130,000 charging stations in America now … here are the states with the most:

  1. California: 37,040
  2. Texas: 10,560
  3. Florida: 7,280
  4. New York: 6,547
  5. Colorado: 5,644
  6. Washington: 4,946
  7. New Jersey: 3,594
  8. Illinois: 3,456
  9. Oregon: 3,355
  10. Arizona: 2,952

If you’re counting that all adds up to 85,364 charging stations. This means in the other 40 states there are only about 44,626 stations (an average of 1,116 per state). Actually, though, the states with the least number of charging stations per capita would be …

  • Wyoming: 4.2 charging stations per 100,000 residents
  • South Dakota: 5.2 charging stations per 100,000 residents
  • North Dakota: 6.0 charging stations per 100,000 residents
  • Nebraska: 6.3 charging stations per 100,000 residents
  • West Virginia: 6.4 charging stations per 100,000 residents

Keep in mind this is for the entire state, not a city in the state.

In my state of Mississippi as of March 8, 2023, there are 480 public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Mississippi. This includes both direct current (DC) fast chargers and level 2 chargers.

The majority of EV charging stations in Mississippi are located in urban areas, such as Jackson and Gulfport. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is working to increase the number of EV charging stations in the state. The department has a goal of having 1,000 EV charging stations by 2025.

Let’s face the fact that 480 charging stations is not a big number (nor is 1,000) when compared to the number of gasoline stations found in Mississippi currently – which is 3,904.

Now some states – California for example – currently has more EV charging stations than they do gasoline stations. California we already learned has 37,040 EV charging stations, but they only have 10,423 total retail fuel stations.

This is according to the California Energy Commission; “There are 10,423 retail fuel stations in California as of 2021. Of these, approximately 7,997 are gasoline stations.”

Actually, California has the most gas stations in the United States, followed by Texas (9,159) and Florida (7,943). The number of gas stations in California has been declining in recent years, as the popularity of electric vehicles has been increasing. However, gasoline stations are still the dominant type of fuel retailer in California (whether they like it or not).

With there being such disparity in EV Charging Stations across the country, depending on the state you happen to live in, I had to dig a little deeper into this research for some more facts.

For example …

How far can the average car travel on a tank of gas vs. the average EV on a single full charge?

The average gasoline engine car can go 300-400 miles on a full tank of gas. However, the exact number of miles will vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the car, the fuel efficiency of the car, and the driving conditions.

The average number of miles that can be driven in an electric vehicle on one charge varies depending on a number of factors, including the size of the battery, the efficiency of the vehicle, and the driving conditions.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average electric vehicle has a range of 250 miles on a single charge. However, there are many electric vehicles that have a range of over 300 miles and some that have a range of over 400 miles.

Of course, with an EV Car … the more miles you travel on one charge the more expensive the car becomes. With a gasoline car, it’s usually the more miles, the smaller the car so the less expensive.

As battery technology continues to improve, the range of electric vehicles is expected to increase. This will make electric vehicles more practical for long-distance trips. And we need them to be longer and here’s the bottom line why?

Bottom Line:

Right now … The average distance between gas stations in the United States varies depending on the location. In urban areas, the average distance between gas stations is about 2 miles or less. In rural areas, the average distance between gas stations can be much higher, up to 10 miles or more. It’s kind of hard to run out of gas when stations are 2 to 10 miles apart. Though some still do … and it’s their (the driver’s) fault.

The average distance between charging stations for electric vehicles in America now is 70 miles. However, the actual distance between charging stations can vary depending on the location. It’s a little easier to run the battery down in an EV when the charging stations are 70 or more miles apart (and it may or may not be the fault of the driver).

Next one should consider the amount of time that it takes to charge an EV as compared to the time it takes to fill the tank up on a gasoline vehicle (which is 3 to 5 minutes).

The time it takes to charge an electric vehicle (EV) fully depends on a number of factors, including the size of the battery, the type of charger, and the amount of charge remaining in the battery.

Battery size: The larger the battery, the longer it will take to charge. For example, a Tesla Model S has a battery capacity of 100 kWh, while a Nissan Leaf has a battery capacity of 40 kWh. This means that the Tesla Model S will take about twice as long to charge as the Nissan Leaf.

Type of charger: There are two main types of chargers for EVs: Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 chargers use a standard household outlet and can take several hours to fully charge an EV. Level 2 chargers use a 240-volt outlet and can fully charge an EV in about 4-8 hours.

Amount of charge remaining: The less charge remaining in the battery, the faster it will charge. For example, if an EV has a 100% charge and you plug it in, it will take longer to charge than if the EV has a 20% charge and you plug it in.

Here are some approximate charging times for different types of EVs and chargers:

Tesla Model S (100 kWh battery):

  • Level 1 charger: 40-50 hours
  • Level 2 charger: 8-10 hours
  • DC fast charger: 15-30 minutes

Nissan Leaf (40 kWh battery):

  • Level 1 charger: 20-25 hours
  • Level 2 charger: 4-6 hours
  • DC fast charger: 10-15 minutes

It is important to note that these are just approximate charging times. The actual charging time will vary depending on the specific EV, the type of charger, and the ambient temperature.

Conclusion:

When I started out to write this piece the idea was to prove that owning an electric car now is a bad idea. After doing some research though I’ve come to the following conclusion.

Electric Cars, for those that can afford them, could be a good idea if the travel is only going to take place in urban areas that have plenty of charging stations now. They are probably not that good for those who do a lot of travel through rural areas where charging stations are farther apart or in fewer numbers. Or, where DC Fast Chargers are not available.

Keep in mind this is written for the people who may want to buy and drive an EV rather than a gasoline engine automobile. It has nothing to do with the cost and Carbon Footprint required to manufacture the batteries for these vehicles. That could be the subject of another paper. Suffice it to say, if you’re a climate activist, the carbon footprint to build an EV as compared to a gasoline automobile is about 1.1 to 1.3 times greater.

Building electric vehicle (EV) batteries requires a lot of energy, which can come from fossil fuels. This is because the mining, processing, and manufacturing of the materials used in EV batteries require a lot of energy.

The main materials used in EV batteries are lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese. These materials are mined and processed using energy-intensive methods. For example, lithium mining requires a lot of water, and cobalt mining can be harmful to the environment.

The manufacturing of EV batteries also requires a lot of energy. The batteries are made in factories that use electricity, and the production process also generates emissions.

The energy used to produce EV batteries can come from a variety of sources, including fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources. However, the vast majority of the energy used to produce EV batteries currently comes from fossil fuels. So, it is unlikely that going 100% EV in any year in the future is not going to do away with the need for some Fossil Fuels.

That’s it for now. Y’all have a great day!

Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC

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