Perhaps No Surprise, But Swanky Towns Get the EV Chargers, Study Finds

transportation secretary buttigieg highlights new electric vehicle charging station on earth day
Why Are Low-Income Areas EV Charging Deserts?Drew Angerer - Getty Images
  • Electric vehicle charging remains a center point of tensions around widespread adoption, with differing views on charging standards growing as of late.

  • A new study finds charging infrastructure is not being built evenly across the US, with rural counties and low-income communities often lacking charging access—while also showing little regional demand for EVs.

  • Nearly 72% of public EV charge ports are in the top fifth of counties based on income, with CARB-compliant states dominating the list as well, according to a study by

Electric vehicle charging is a divisive topic. Whether you focus on charging speed, charging ports, or the grid infrastructure supporting it all, there are seemingly dozens of working theories on the table and even more business moves to be made by suppliers and automakers alike. But this kind of future-of-energy discussion doesn't apply to everyone, as studies show that EV charger availability in the US is far from equitable.


Using county-by-county data taking into account income level, poverty level, and unemployment level (among other parameters like health insurance take rates and general access to cars), the folks at Bumper have released a study showing just how drastic the regional disparity in EV charger availability is. While EV charging is arguably still in its fledgling phase, with a lack of industry-wide standardization and reliability plaguing even the best networks like Tesla's Superchargers, natural patterns of supply-and-demand are leaving some areas without access in the federal push for an all-electric transition.

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Electrify America is a popular public charging network in California, though the VW-owned company is far from the largest public network provider.FREDERIC J. BROWN - Getty Images

Labeled as charging deserts, certain areas of the United States are barely electrified, according to the study by Bumper. For starters, all of the 131,195 publicly available charge ports documented by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are concentrated in 1997 of the 3143 US counties, primarily in metropolitan cities across the US as well as certain high-dollar but otherwise outlier counties like Teton County in Wyoming. Alternatively, the remaining 1146 counties (36.5% of the country) lack public charging infrastructure altogether, with the majority of these counties being rural and in states with little to no EV incentives.