A row of electric vehicles at charging stations. Note: This image was created with AI.
A line of modern electric cars charging at a public charging station. AI generation

Nationwide Charger Shortages: The Future of EVs

After news broke regarding electric vehicle (EV) charging station shortages across New York City, current and prospective EV owners are concerned about the practicality of owning an EV. Fox Business reports that NYC needs around 40,000 additional charging plugs by 2030 to successfully phase out gas cars, an ambitious goal for the metropolitan area.

With the White House setting a goal to cut down CO2 emissions and reduce the effects of climate change by having up to half of all new vehicle sales be electric by the year 2030 the race is on to implement public charging stations nationwide.

However, this begs the question: If EV owners are already facing public charging station shortages, how will we phase out gas vehicles from the roads? Let’s take a deep dive into answering the question of whether we’re facing an EV charger shortage and what this might mean for the future of EVs in the United States.

Is There a Shortage of EV Chargers?

Vehicles plugged into charging stations.

The first thing to determine is if there is an EV charger shortage. Looking solely at the numbers, we may be inclined to stress over this concern, especially if you’re a current EV owner looking for a public charging station. A fact sheet published by the Biden-Harris Administration shared data that the country has more than three million EVs on the road with just over 130,000 public chargers as of February 2023. 

In comparison, the American Petroleum Institute (API) notes that the country has over 145,000 gas stations across the country, most of which have multiple individual pumps. If this trend continues and consumers start purchasing EVs at a higher rate, we may experience a temporary charger shortage. While this has yet to become a widespread issue, we may experience shortages in the future.

Changes in Vehicle Sales

The United States saw over 13.75 million light-duty vehicle sales in 2022. Light-duty vehicles can be defined as any vehicle weighing under 8,500.0 pounds according to the Department of Energy. These include the majority of automobiles, SUVs, vans, sport utility vehicles, trucks, and EVs. Of the EVs qualifying as light-duty vehicles, InsideEV notes that over 750,000 all-electric vehicles were registered last year, a 57% increase from 2021. 

While EV sales made up only 5.6% of the total automotive market as of 2022, it’s notable that some cities are already facing charger challenges where the number of EVs surpasses the EV charging network. Combined with a dramatic increase in sales between 2021 and 2022, climbing from 700,000 to 1.0 million EV sales on Statista, we may be heading towards a charger shortage for electric cars and some plug-in hybrids in the near future.

Why Cities Are Experiencing EV Charger Shortages

A mobile map displaying EV charging stations.

The current shortage of public charging stations we may see on the news primarily lies in cities and states where EVs have become more prominent on the roads. States including California, Texas, Washington, and New York are already experiencing shortage issues for a variety of reasons.

Initiatives to be more eco-friendly and reduce CO2 emissions at a fast pace are seemingly the biggest cause of charger shortages. Where populations are highly concentrated, EV owners have found fast-charging stations to be few and far between, and when a fast charger or regular charging system can be found, it’s often unusable. 

Fox Business reports that EV owners in New York City have faced the following issues when trying to charge their vehicles using a public charging station: 

  • Gas cars are parked in EV-only spots 
  • Teslas are seen parked but not charging 
  • Chargers are too slow and often unreliable
  • Harsh winters prevent EV chargers from working

While chargers can be seen throughout the City and nation, EV drivers note problems of usability and functionality, causing a push for more EV chargers nationwide to prevent the issue in the future.

With the majority of EVs being located along the West Coast, the shortage some areas of the country are facing could be a precursor to what the entire nation will see in the future. For example, as of 2021, California has just over 900,000 EVs registered throughout the state. In the first quarter of 2023, the state recorded that there are only 3.5 public charging ports per every 100 EVs.

Implementing Charging Stations

With the White House pushing for 50% of automotive sales to be all-electric vehicles by 2030, the charging network implementation process is seemingly slow and inefficient for many EV owners. The lack of public charging infrastructure making the news in the past months has deterred prospective buyers, making the 2030 countrywide goal appear more ambitious.

Looking at the implementation of charging stations, the U.S. Department of Energy reports a 5.6% nationwide increase in EV charger growth per 100 EVs from the last quarter of 2022 to the start of 2023. While moving in an upward trend, we believe that implementation needs to be occurring at a faster rate to achieve the 2030 national goal for EV sales. 

The Future of EVs

While the nation may not be experiencing a full-force charger shortage, if the above trends continue, public charging stations may be incapable of keeping up with the growing demand within the EV market.

CNBC reported in April 2023 that nearly 80% of the nation’s public noted that a lack of public charging infrastructure deterred them from buying an EV, despite the desire to own one both for luxury and environmental reasoning. While we’re seeing shortages mainly in cities, this specific concern was consistent with residents in cities, suburbs, and rural areas based on the survey results. 

Without expediting the process of implementing reliable and efficient public charging stations across the country, it’s difficult to predict what the future of the EV market will look like. However, despite public concerns, automakers like Ford and Toyota have begun and are continuing to release hybrid and electric models to move away from gasoline-powered vehicles. 

The opportunity to charge your EV at home is not out of the question. With a professional installation, you can charge your EV overnight, preventing the need to franticly search for a public charger. While installing your own charging port might have financial limitations, this can help alleviate charger shortages, especially in suburban areas where many people are homeowners with garage access to install an EV charger.

FAQ: EV Charger Shortage

Is there a shortage of EV charging stations?

While not nationwide, many EV owners in high-volume areas like California, Texas, and Washington are noting EV charging station shortages. Not only are there not enough chargers in the areas, but many residents share that the overall infrastructure and charging ports are non-functioning and unreliable.

Why are public EV chargers failing?

Many EV owners seem to have a multitude of problems with the current EV charging infrastructure. From payment errors to network connection failures and unreliable charging, many EV owners nationwide appear disappointed in the reliability of public charging stations.

Are EV sales declining?

While EV sales are not declining and have increased more than half from 2021 to 2022, EVs still account for less than 6.0% of all vehicle sales as of 2022. Sales are not currently declining, though with worries of a public charging shortage, some prospective EV owners are hesitant to invest in a new all-electric vehicle which may affect the 2023 EV market.