EV Charging Infrastructure Is Growing, but Priorities Are Amiss
There are a host of companies in the U.S. that offer electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for public use. However, the list of those that have a sizable network is much smaller. Moreover, only some offer DC Fast Charging stations, which are the only electric car charging stations that are practical for road trips. In a perfect world, EV owners can do most of their charging at home and reserve fast charging for road trips, though there are certainly exceptions.
A vast majority of the EV charging stations across the country are of the Level 2 variety, which is fine if you have some time to kill, but a Level 2 charging station isn’t going to get you topped up and back on the road quickly. Most EV owners use Level 2 to charge overnight at home or a hotel, or while their car is parked at work.
It’s important to note that there are also various companies, automakers and even the U.S. government touting big plans for the rollout of new public charging infrastructure, though the plans can cause confusion since they aren’t necessarily focused on DC Fast Charging stations. Building more public Level 2 charging infrastructure instead of fast-charging stations arguably doesn’t make sense.
With all of that said, let’s take a look at the most significant EV charging networks in the U.S., and more specifically, which companies are the current leaders in DC Fast Charging infrastructure. We also explain why many plans for future infrastructure are wholly inadequate.
Charging stations, charging ports, charging points and charging stalls are often used interchangeably by media outlets, which can cause plenty of confusion. For the purposes of this article, we’re referring to a charging station like a gas station, where the station is the location itself, and it usually has multiple individual Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) ports, points or stalls.
An EVSE port may have multiple connectors, but it can only charge one car at a time, just like a gas pump. To make things less confusing, we’ll refer to an EVSE port as a charging port, which, while not entirely accurate, has become the norm.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are currently over 46,000 public EV charging stations in the U.S., with a total of over 115,000 individual (EVSE) charging ports.
The total number of charging stations includes about 41,000 Level 2 stations with over 91,000 charging ports. However, it only includes around 6,000 DC Fast Charging stations with some 23,000 charging ports. As you can see, while the U.S. has a growing number of public EV charging ports, they are predominantly Level 2 ports that aren’t capable of fast charging.
ChargePoint is the largest EV charging network in the States by a notable margin. In fact, the company has a whopping 30,000 stations with over 47,000 individual charging ports.
Tesla, the next closest rival, has fewer than 6,000 station locations and about 25,000 charging ports. However, while the majority of Tesla’s charging ports are Superchargers (DC Fast Chargers), most ChargePoint locations are Level 2.
There are also nearly 8,000 non-networked EV charging stations in the U.S., with over 15,000 charging ports. Again, nearly all of these are Level 2 ports. Other companies involved in public charging infrastructure don’t have nearly as many locations or charging points as ChargePoint, Tesla or the non-networked charging stations.
While ChargePoint has a healthy lead on the total number of charging stations and charging ports in the U.S., it doesn’t even come close to Tesla’s number of fast-charging locations. Moreover, there are other companies with more DC Fast Charging ports than ChargePoint.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Tesla has nearly 1,300 Supercharger stations in the U.S., with over 13,000 fast-charging ports. Electrify America is next in line with about 750 stations and 3,300 fast-charging ports. ChargePoint and EVgo are practically tied for the third position, with over 1,700 DC Fast Charging ports each, though ChargePoint has about 1,700 total fast-charging locations to EVgo’s 840.
Since DC Fast Charging networks are critical to EV adoption, we’re focusing on the country’s largest fast-charging networks, rather than the largest charging networks as a whole. Again, while Level 2 charging points may be useful to some electric car owners in some cases, they can’t charge an EV quickly, and they provide little help on road trips.
The following fast-charging networks are ranked by the number of charging ports they have in the U.S., from most to least. We only highlighted the networks with 500 or more charging ports nationwide.
Tesla Supercharger Network
Tesla is the only automotive brand that owns and operates its own proprietary charging network. Other automakers, such as Ford and GM, have announced plans for large networks. However, they’re primarily based on partnerships with existing networks, which offer a multitude of Level 2 stations and some DC Fast Charging stations.
In North America, the Supercharger network can only be used by Tesla’s vehicles, though the company aims to open it up to all EVs in the near future. Currently, Tesla’s most powerful Superchargers max out at 250 kW, which equates to about 200 miles of range in 15 minutes.
Volkswagen Group of America owns Electrify America, which came about as part of the automaker’s settlement with the government related to its diesel emissions scandal. The network doesn’t require a membership, but it does offer a discount for people who choose to sign up for a plan.
Electrify America is one of the few networks that can charge at speeds of up to 350 kW, though some charging ports only offer 50 kW speeds. In addition, not all EVs are capable of accepting the maximum power level. That said, Electrify America is also the only comprehensive DC Fast Charging network that allows people to take a non-Tesla EV on a road trip virtually anywhere in the U.S., and from coast to coast.
Ford has partnered with Electrify America as one provider in its growing public charging network. All Mustang Mach-E owners will receive 250 kWh of free DC Fast Charging at Electrify America’s stations.
EVgo is a charging company based out of Tennessee. You can use the network without a subscription, though signing up will get you a discount for DC Fast Charging.
EVgo’s fast-charging stations deliver speeds between 100 kW and 350 kW, making it the only network aside from Electrify America that offers the quickest charging speeds available today. General Motors secured a deal with EVgo to launch over 2,700 DC Fast Charging stations between now and 2025. The locations will have an average of four charging ports per site, with each capable of delivering 350 kW.
ChargePoint, which is headquartered in California, is the nation’s largest charging network, though it’s primarily a Level 2 network. Unlike other charging networks, ChargePoint lets each property owner set its own pricing. Many of the company’s Level 2 stations are free to use, with the property owner absorbing the cost of the electricity use. Using the ChargePoint app, EV owners have access to hundreds of thousands of charging ports across the globe, and registration is free.
Francis Energy owns and operates 545 DC Fast Charging ports nationwide. It started with a statewide EV fast-charging network in Oklahoma and is currently working on other fast-charging projects in 24 U.S. states. The company’s goal is to continue to expand across America’s heartland to help reduce range anxiety and increase EV adoption in areas where EV charging infrastructure is lacking.
Greenlots, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, was acquired by Royal Dutch Shell in 2019. However, it kept its original name since then. In November 2021, Greenlots announced that it would be rebranded to Shell Recharge Solutions in early 2022. The company has over 3000 fast-charging ports in the U.S.
Some Shell gas stations have deployed Shell Recharge charging ports. More recently, Shell announced that it had completely converted a gas station to a Shell Recharge station, though it was in the UK. Eventually, Shell will likely convert some U.S. gas stations to EV fast-charging stations.
Other Notable Networks
EVConnect, EVCS and Blink also deserve mention, but they each have fewer than 200 DC Fast Charging ports nationwide. Aside from the host of non-networked fast-charging stations we previously mentioned, all other charging companies in the U.S. each have fewer than 100 DC Fast Charging ports deployed across the entire country.
The Big Picture
It should be pretty clear at this point that the U.S. is lagging when it comes to fast-charging infrastructure, and the government’s help is needed to grow networks more quickly. The Tesla Supercharger network leads with about 57% of the 23,000 DC Fast Charging ports in the country, and sadly, only Tesla owners can use the network, at least for now.
The next three U.S. leaders in DC Fast Charging – Electrify America, EVgo and ChargePoint – have just shy of 7,000 fast-charging ports combined, or about 31% of the total fast-charging points in the country.
Add Tesla’s 13,000 individual Supercharger ports to the latter 7,000, and you’ll see that just four companies account for about 87% of all DC Fast Chargers on our shores.
To put it into perspective, there are less than 10,000 EV fast-charging ports in the States that are accessible to every electric vehicle, regardless of make or model. Meanwhile, the country has over 150,000 gas stations, each with multiple gas pumps. While there aren’t that many EVs in the U.S. yet, and most are Tesla’s vehicles, this is beginning to change more quickly.
What Is the U.S. Government’s Plan for Charging Infrastructure?
President Biden, along with the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy, is investing $5 billion over five years to launch a national EV charging network. Another $2.5 billion is available as part of the plan, though details about how it will be spent will not be provided until a later date.
U.S. government officials stated in a press release related to the plan that it aims to help states build out a network of EV charging stations along designated “alternative fuels corridors” on the national highway system.
Under the plan, which is called The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, U.S. states must submit their individual proposals for EV infrastructure deployment to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation by Aug. 1, 2022. The Federal Highway Administration will approve eligible plans by September 30 before providing funding.
Sadly, while the infrastructure bill does allow for the deployment of DC Fast Charging stations, the majority of what actually gets built will probably be Level 2 stations. DC Fast Charging stations are 50 to 100 times more expensive than Level 2 stations, which only cost a few thousand dollars each to deploy.
Level 2 charging station deployment will allow states to get more for their money, expand the infrastructure more quickly and tout their successes over other states. That said, the situation for EV owners isn’t going to improve significantly unless the money is used for the deployment of DC Fast Chargers.