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How many charging stations would we need to completely replace gas stations?

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How many charging stations would we need to completely replace gas stations?

Buyers curious about The shift to electric vehicles has made it clear in survey after survey after survey: Charging scares them a little.

In many ways, drivers report, owning an electric vehicle is the same, if not better, than owning a gasoline-powered car. But fueling an electric vehicle is different and can be inconvenient depending on where you live, so it’s sometimes scary even for those interested in purchasing an electric vehicle.

Most current electric vehicle owners in the United States charge at home, but more than 20 percent of American households they don’t have access to consistent off-street parking where they can plug in overnight. Meanwhile, the public charging network can be spotty and drivers have complained that chargers are not always well maintained or even working.

The good news is that automakers, governments and other political actors realize that the United States has a collections problem. They want more people in electric cars. Automakers are ramping up production of electric vehicles and want people to buy them, and lawmakers realize that rejecting gasoline-powered cars in favor of zero-emission electrics will be an important part of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

As a result of early efforts to make the switch to electric vehicles, the U.S. currently has 188,600 public and private charging ports and 67,900 charging stations, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Energy. Figures that have more than doubled since 2020. Another 240 stations are currently planned. Compare that to today’s gas infrastructure: The country has about 145,000 gas filling stations, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

At WIRED, the whole situation interested us in a thought experiment: If we could magically snap our fingers and turn all cars electric, how many charging stations would the United States need to add?

Number calculators in ColturaAn alternative fuels research and advocacy group analyzed the numbers:

The result? The nation needs to build many, many more chargers before reaching full electrification, a point that experts suggest should arrive in the 2040s. But the task may not be as insurmountable as it seems.

The number of public chargers will have to increase six-fold, estimate Matthew Metz, executive director of Coltura, and Ron Barzilay, its data and policy associate. “We’re not necessarily out of line,” Metz says.

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