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Guide to the 6 Best Electric Vehicle Charging Networks

According to National Petroleum News, a station count done in 2004 tallied over 168,000 retail locations in the United States that sold gasoline fuel to the public. More recently, MarketWatch reported that figure having dropped significantly to about 115,000 due to increased competition, more fuel efficient cars, stricter environmental regulations, and shrinking gasoline profit margins. And as the number of gas stations in the United States continues to drop, the number of Electric Vehicle charging stations is growing very quickly.

“The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.” — Kalpana Chawla

Thanks to a small group of visionary companies, we are living in a time when Electric Vehicle fast charging stations will soon outnumber the gas stations that our country has known for so long. It may not be obvious to the average interstate traveler yet, but America’s Electric Vehicle charging network is growing stronger every day and will soon be featured on those blue informational interstate signs just like the gas station brands we are all familiar with. And, as EV charging stations become more visible, the American public will feel more and more comfortable purchasing an Electric Vehicle knowing that they won’t need to worry about finding a charging station as they travel in town and out of town.

Here is our assessment of the current state of EV charging networks in the United States. These are the six best charging networks and some information about them.

#1 Tesla

It is hard to beat a charging network that has been designed and built for a single brand of cars. Imagine if Shell or BP or ExxonMobil also manufactured cars. There are clear advantages to Tesla and Tesla owners. Instead of having to search some app for a charging station, Tesla software tells you exactly where the Tesla charging stations are.

“Enter a destination on your touchscreen and Trip Planner will automatically calculate your route with Superchargers along the way. Trip Planner considers driving style, elevation, outside temperature, traffic, stall availability and more, offering a convenient door-to-door experience.”

Tesla’s Supercharger Network, Source: Tesla’s Website

And then when you see the charging stations, they are clearly visible. Here is a post on how Tesla’s charging network is designed to be seen.

Tesla’s Charging Network is the Only One Designed to Be Seen

Why EV charging stations should emulate gas stations

uxplanet.org

 

Tesla’s charging network is also very strategically located near… everywhere you would want to go. Tesla has charging stations around national parks, major urban centers, suburban shopping centers, and along all of the most frequented highways in the United States.

At a more basic level, the Tesla charging network is made up of over 20,000 superchargers (fast chargers). While the other charging networks have a mix of Level I (8+ hours to fully charge), Level II (4+ hours to fully charge) and fast chargers (~1 hour to fully charge), Tesla’s infrastructure is built around the idea of getting back on the road quickly.

“The goal of the Supercharger network is to enable freedom of travel for Tesla owners at the fraction of the cost of gasoline.”

The networks ranked behind Tesla are way behind Tesla. These networks can easily compete with each other, but they will never compete with Tesla. There is a significant gap between the Tesla supercharger network and the next five charging networks, and there is also a significant gap between these five charging networks and everyone else. Tesla owners will always have the best refueling experience when compared to other EV owners.

#2 ChargePoint

ChargePoint takes the #2 spot mostly because of the quantity of chargers they have deployed. The ChargePoint website also touts that ChargePoint customers have “Access to hundreds of thousands of places to charge with one ChargePoint account.” Since ChargePoint only has about 70,000 charging stations, that likely means that ChargePoint customers also have access to other non-ChargePoint chargers. This is a good thing.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of ChargePoint charging stations are Level 3 DC Fast Chargers. This means that most of the stations are designed to charge slowly using Level I and II chargers at commercial locations over the course of a work day. That is a perfectly fine strategy for increasing customer comfort with Electric Vehicle travel, but their network has major gaps when it comes to interstate and long-distance travel that will make it improbable that EV owners will rely solely on ChargePoint. We expect EVgo and Electrify America will rank higher than ChargePoint very soon.

#3 EVgo and #4 Electrify America

EVgo and Electrify America are very similar networks. Both claim to be the largest public fast charging network, and depending on when you read this post it is conceivable that either network could rightfully make that claim in the near future. These two charging networks are in direct competition with each other, and that is good for EV owners. This will result in a well-maintained charging infrastructure and an ever-increasing number of strategically placed fast chargers.

EVgo has the most educational website out of all of the charging networks. If you are considering buying an electric vehicle EVgo’s website is a good place to start to get comfortable and learn what you need to know to own an EV. EVgo has over 800 fast chargers deployed across 34 states, and customers also have access to thousands of Level 2 chargers. EVgo is also adding an additional 2,700 fast charging stations over the next 5 years.

It is also important to note that EVgo fast charging stations can be used by Tesla owners.

“Drivers of Tesla Models 3/X/S/Y can also fast charge at any EVgo location using a CHAdeMO adapter or using the Tesla connector at EVgo locations in San Francisco, CA, Los Angeles, CA and Seattle, WA.”

Electrify America is designed to get Electric Vehicle drivers across the country. The charging stations are strategically positioned along the most common interstate travel routes. This is good for the explorers among us that want to spontaneously drive across country.

Electrify America is a very new charging network, but is growing very quickly with over 500 fast chargers already deployed. The Electrify America Pass+ subscription and their idle fee are points of friction, but those are easy problems to solve.

Electrify America Charging Network, Source: Electrify America website

“Electrify America’s goal is to promote greater Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) adoption by offering an ultrafast and convenient charging network. This will fuel today’s EVs, as well as the rapid growth in EV models expected from many car companies between now and the early 2020s.

Electrify America is also committed to building education and awareness of zero-emission vehicles through brand-neutral outreach, discover-and-drive events, and other marketing approaches. As an organization, we are also working with local, state, and national organizations, as well as vehicle manufacturers, to create more opportunities to enhance ZEV awareness.”

Honorable Mentions: Blink and Volta

America’s Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure is still very young. There is still a lot of opportunity for new charging networks to compete. Blink and Volta both have sizeable networks that could potentially compete in the future. Blink is particularly well-positioned, but needs to fill major geographic gaps and add significantly more fast chargers to their portfolio. Volta has an interesting model where EV owners don’t pay for the fuel, but are positioned near advertisements and shopping areas. Volta also needs to address geographic gaps and add significantly more fast chargers.

Why we are optimistic about the future

Here are the three simple trends that make us very optimistic about the future.

  1. The number of Electric Vehicle fast chargers is growing very quickly, and will soon surpass the number of gas stations in the United States.
  2. The prices of Electric Vehicles are dropping.
  3. The ranges of Electric Vehicles are increasing.

Remember that the number of gas stations has dropped from over 168,000 to about 115,000 in less than 20 years. Meanwhile EV charging stations have been growing in number by the thousands every year. We are witnessing a massive transition in our transportation system, and it is happening very quickly.

Do you know where the nearest Electric Vehicle fast charger is to you? Have you already bought an Electric Vehicle? What are you waiting for?


Post time: 2023-05-06