EV Charging Infrastructure: Trends, Requirements & Costs Skip to content

EV Charging Infrastructure: Trends, Requirements & Costs

The Importance of Developing EV Charging Infrastructure

As we transition to a clean and modern electric future, government, businesses, and other stakeholders must collaborate to support the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Realizing a carbon-free energy system by 2050 depends on widespread availability of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and EV charging infrastructure.

Consumers and public and private fleets all need access to charging stations if they are to consider adopting EVs — which include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). While the largest share of EV charging occurs at home, this figure will shift as EV ownership expands to those who can’t install a home charger, such as residents of multi-family buildings and/or units that only offer on-street parking.

We need a robust and equitable network of consumer and fleet charging to meet this rising demand.

Why Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Matters

A 2022 Consumer Report survey showed that the top two reported barriers preventing consumers from buying or leasing an EV were charging logistics (61%) and range (55%). Range is the number of miles the vehicle can travel following a single charge. If the U.S. is to reach our electrification goals, drivers must feel they can charge their EVs wherever they go.

These concerns echo the results of a 2023 Autolist survey, which ranked range (39%) and charging logistics (33%) just behind overall cost (42%) as consumers’ top three concerns about purchasing an EV. The Autolist report also emphasized that the infrastructure needs of EVs make them less of a reality for lower income consumers — just one-third of respondents making under $30,000 said the area where they lived had EV charging.

That’s concerning news for the EV charging infrastructure forecast.

The Edison Electric Institute’s 2022 report projects that the number of EVs on U.S. roads will increase from 2.4 million from the end of 2021 to 26.4 million in 2030. By 2030, the report indicated that more than 10 percent of the 259 million U.S. vehicles (both cars and light trucks) could be EVs. Based on that forecast, supporting the expected number of EVs on the road by 2030 will require 12.9 million charge ports and approximately 140,000 DC fast charging (DCFC) ports across the U.S.

The nation is currently well below that number of charging ports. The most recent U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy count puts the number of public and private EV charging ports at 161,562, and studies estimate the current number of DCFC stations at just 6,409.

Charging scarcity is not just hurting adoption rates, it’s directly locking lower income families out of the clean energy transition. Low-income individuals most need a vehicle, and the adoption of EVs could be key for reducing the costs associated with car ownership. Access to public chargers is a necessity for widespread EV adoption.

Public charging stations bolster market acceptance of EVs by offering more flexible charging opportunities, equitable access, added convenience and ease of use. Public charging stations help to overcome two major concerns:

  • Range Anxiety — Long-distance travelers must have the assurance that they can arrive at their destination without running out of battery power. A network of charging stations along common travel routes will aid EV drivers in easily recharging their vehicles.
  • Long Waits — Drivers don’t want to spend hours waiting for their vehicle to charge. Not only are long wait times frustrating, but they can also create a bottleneck at charging stations. Fast charging DCFC stations are of utmost importance for the widespread use of electric vehicles.

Types of Charging Infrastructure

EV charging stations can be wall-mounted or available as free-standing charging cabinets. This is called an electric recharging point or electronic charging station (ECS). EV charging infrastructure falls into two types — fast direct current (DC) charging stations and slower alternating current (AC) charging stations, which are identified as one of three different charging levels:

  • Level 1 Charging: The slowest and simplest method of electric vehicle charging, Level 1 involves using a standard household electrical outlet, typically a 120-volt AC power source. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation it can take 40-50+ hours to fully charge a BEV and 5-6 hours to fully charge a PHEV (from empty).
  • Level 2 Charging: A faster and more powerful form of AC charging, Level 2 chargers use a 240-volt AC power source and can be found in both commercial and residential settings. Level 2 charging puts out a range of 7-20 kilowatts (kW) of AC power and can take between 4-10 hours to fully charge a BEV and just 1-2 hours to fully charge a PHEV (from empty). Every electric vehicle on the road today is compatible with the U.S. standard Level 2 chargers, known as SAE J1772.
  • Level 3 / DC Fast Charging: Level 3 charging, commonly referred to as DC fast charging (DCFC), is the quickest and most powerful EV charging method. It provides a high-voltage, high-current DC power supply directly to the EV’s battery and puts out a range from 50 to over 350 kW. Not all EVs are compatible with Level 3 DCFC chargers, and DCFC stations require professional installation.Current Level 3 charging standards include Tesla’s Supercharger network, CHAdeMO and Combo Combined Charging System (CCS) stations. Level 3 DCFC stations have many charging ports, and are significantly more expensive than Level 2 stations, often costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per station.

Stations can have multiple charging ports. Most level 2 chargers will use a standard J1772 plug — with the exception of Tesla charging stations, which use their own NACS form of connector. Non-Tesla Level 3 DCFC stations use either CCS or CHAdeMO, though several OEMs have made agreements with Tesla to adopt the NACs standard (which is in the process of becoming the J3400 standard).

Overview Summary of EV Chargers
Sourced from U.S. Department of Transportation

Charge Level Locations BEV Time to Charge from empty PHEV Time to Charge from empty Estimated Electric Range per Hour of Charging
Level 1 Home (single & multi-family) 40-50 hours 5-6 hours 2-5 miles
Level 2 Home, Workplace, and Public 4-10 Hours 1-2 hours 10-20 miles
Level 3 DCFC Public DC Fast Charging 20 minutes-1 hour N/A 180-240 miles

Another technology called inductive or wireless charging uses electromagnetic induction to charge EV batteries without the need for cables. Inductive charging is an after-market addition to your EV and your home. No EVs currently come standard with wireless charging, and public wireless chargers do not exist yet.

Some electric utilities provide charging at public sites, such as municipal lots. However, in certain areas utilities are prohibited from owning charging stations, and instead a charge point operator or network operator will own public charging sites. Private companies can also provide charging in parking areas at hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers. Some stations may be available free of charge while others may require a key fob or other access device. Most will require an electronic payment through a credit card or digital wallet.

Some paid stations will charge per minute while others will charge by the kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy transferred to the car’s battery. In general, the session fee will be greater than the cost of home charging, which the EIA last estimated at an average of 15.04 cents per kWh.

Benefits of EV Charging Infrastructure

Investing in EV infrastructure will bring numerous benefits to communities and consumers alike.

  • Economic Development: Government funding for EV infrastructure is available through loans and grants, which can help alleviate development costs. Building and maintaining EV charging sites and stations will help to create jobs and incentivize companies to invest in domestic production of EV charging components. Visit the U.S. DOT’s website for more information on federal funding and resources for EV infrastructure.
  • Supporting Community Businesses and Attractions: Carefully placed EV chargers can incentivize EV drivers to combine their refueling stops with other activities, including visits to stores, restaurants, parks, and other local attractions.
  • Further Promote and Support the Benefits of EVs: The appropriate infrastructure allows us to capture all the larger benefits of reducing ICE emissions:
  • Improved public health: EVs can reduce air pollution around homes and businesses and provide health benefits.
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions: Transitioning from ICE vehicles can contribute to climate change mitigation and help achieve national emission reduction goals.
  • Improved Driving Experience: When properly implemented and managed, EV charging can be a predictable and reliable experience, capable of supporting drivers’ fast charging needs and providing them a convenient and worry-free commute.

Charging Infrastructure Deployment Requirements

The needed increase in public fast charging requirements will require robust and effective infrastructure. EV charging deployment must consider usage, costs, general infrastructure requirements and location.

Considerations for usage requirements:

  • Diverse Payment Structures: Charging infrastructure should be able to support a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, mobile apps, RFID cards and subscription plans. Payment structures should also be simple and straightforward to avoid confusing users.
  • Data Collection: Charging stations should be equipped with data collection capabilities to monitor usage, track performance, and gather insights into user behavior to optimize the charging network.
  • Parking: Charging stations should be strategically located close to existing electrical services in areas with convenient parking. The further away the parking space from the electrical infrastructure the more costly it is to install the station. Convenience is essential for drivers who cannot charge at home and to provide equitable public charging at commercial locations or travel hubs.
  • Signage Requirements: Clear and standardized signage should be used to guide users to charging stations and locate charging points.

Cost considerations:

  • Equipment: New and replacement equipment costs will vary based on factors such as the charging station’s level and location, the number of charging stations, electrical capacity upgrades, and more.
  • Installation: Installation costs include the number and type of charging stations, site location, labor costs, the distance from existing electrical infrastructure and permitting requirements. Costs also include installation equipment such as conduit, wiring, and mounting and any required electrical upgrades to accommodate existing and future charging needs.
  • Networking: Networked charging infrastructure is required to send data, such as information on frequency of use, to a network services provider and the site host. Networked stations will need access to a wired or wireless internet connection or cellular service.
  • Compliance, Permitting, and Inspection: A manufacturer will need to comply with all certification requirements, including proper inspection with a certified testing body.
  • Electricity Costs: Charging stations will need to pay for energy use and a demand charge, which can become expensive. For example, if a commercial location with a 350 kW peak demand had a demand charge of $20 per kilowatt, it would have an additional $7,000 in demand charges on top of the energy use cost.
  • Maintenance and Warranty Costs: General maintenance for charging infrastructure includes proper storage, as well as periodically inspecting, repairing, and replacing parts and equipment.
  • Insurance Costs: Charging stations will require insurance coverage, especially if they are installed on a business premises.

General infrastructure considerations:

  • Regulations: EV stations will need to adhere to local and national regulations related to electrical installations, safety and standards for EV charging equipment.
  • Safety: Charging stations must meet or exceed established safety standards, ensuring safe operation for both users and the electrical grid.
  • Efficiency: Station design will need to optimize efficiency to minimize energy loss and reduce charging times.

Location considerations:

  • Siting: Charging station locations depend on where people reside. Rural and urban drivers have different sets of needs:
    • Rural drivers, who are more likely to have home chargers, typically drive longer distances and will have DCFC stations spaced much farther apart. Charging sites will need to be strategically placed.
    • Urban drivers are more likely to live in multi-family housing or apartment complexes and in some cases will not have access to home chargers, requiring a greater number of public charging stations.
  • Equitable Access: EV charging should be accessible to everyone — including low-income and underserved communities. This includes having charging sites near smaller, rural communities and providing enough sites within major cities for on-street parking.
  • Community Need: Charging station placement should account for an area’s travel patterns, the number and type of EVs expected to be served at each location, and the expected time duration for full charging.
  • Climate: Colder regions, especially rural areas, will need to account for reduced battery performance and EV range during winter months, as well as protection from the elements while waiting for a vehicle to charge.
  • Fleet Usage: Charging sites will also need to consider how to best support heavy-duty electric trucks and buses. Fast or ultra-fast charging is necessary for making both regional and long-haul operations technically and economically viable. Charging sites may need to find ways to schedule “off-shift” slow charging, such as during the night or other longer periods of downtime.

Challenges Associated with EV Charging Infrastructure

Meeting all of the EV infrastructure requirements is no easy task. Investors and developers must overcome several challenges to help the U.S. meet projected 2030 demand.

Access. Easy and equitable access is the greatest EV charging infrastructure challenge. The Alternative Fuels Data Center lists almost 50,000 EV charging stations currently in operation in the U.S., with only 17 percent located on non-urban roads (including highways and other arterials). The International Energy Agency estimates that about eight percent of the U.S. population lives more than six miles from a public charging station.

U.S. map of ev charging stations across the country by area
Source: https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2022/trends-in-charging-infrastructure

The Department of Energy’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Projection Tool (EVI-Pro) Lite allows you to calculate how much charging your neighborhood needs and how it impacts your charging load profile.

Standards. All new federally funded EV charging stations will need to meet the The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) accepted national standards. This includes those stations funded by the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program. According to a Whitehouse fact sheet, the FHWA standards:

  • Ensure charging stations maintain consistent plug types and power levels and host a minimum number of chargers
  • Allow drivers to find charging stations via mapping applications and will provide publicly accessible data on price, availability and accessibility
  • Provide a single method of identification all chargers, eliminating the need for multiple apps and accounts
  • Ensure equipment will be compatible in the future with forward-looking capabilities such as Plug and Charge
  • Require chargers to be ready for operation 97 percent of the time under normal circumstances, which is referred to as the charger’s uptime reliability requirement

Reliability. According to research from J.D. Power reliability is currently a major challenge facing EV charging stations. Their report shows that, through the end of Q1 2023, 20.8 percent of EV drivers using public charging stations experienced charging failures or equipment malfunctions that left them unable to charge their vehicles through the end of Q1 2023.

Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power explained, “The availability of public charging stations is still a critical obstacle, but it isn’t the only one… the reliability of public chargers continues to be a problem. The situation is stuck at a level where one of every five visits ends without charging, the majority of which are due to station outages.” Improving charging reliability requires overcoming common issues such as station connectivity, internal faults and errors, and faulty charging connectors.

ROI. Public charging stations must be economical, equitably distributed, appealing to use and wired to a robust power grid. Accomplishing all of these objectives can be expensive. Successful charging stations must present a viable business opportunity for installation and operation partners without burdening consumers with high charging costs. This reality creates a tension between what’s needed for the public and what’s possible for investors and private enterprises.

Several factors continue to led to high charging infrastructure expansion:

Meeting our long-term carbon-free goals depends on supplying all drivers with equitable and affordable charging infrastructure. Despite the obstacles facing the industry, an electrified transportation system is within reach.

SEPA provides technical analysis, strategic guidance, general best practices, and stakeholder-specific recommendations to help industry stakeholders understand and plan for growth in electric demand. See the latest news and reports on EV infrastructure by visiting our Transportation page.

For example, learn about how EVs capable of bidirectional charging can benefit utilities and their communities by supporting energy resource opportunities, storing renewable generation, providing ancillary services and acting as resilience assets. Read the full report: The State of Bidirectional Charging in 2023.

Charging Infrastructure Key Terms

  • AC Charger: A charging device or station that provides electrical power to charge a vehicle’s battery using alternating current (AC). AC chargers are typically categorized into different levels based on the voltage and power they provide — Level 1 and Level 2.
  • DC Charger: A type of charging station that provides electrical power to charge a vehicle’s battery using direct current (DC). DC chargers are designed for fast and rapid charging, making them suitable for situations where drivers need to recharge their EVs quickly. DC chargers are referred to as Level 3 chargers or DCFC chargers.
  • Charge Point Management System (CPMS): A software or technology platform used to manage and control EV charging infrastructure. The CPMS is typically used by charging station operators and service providers to monitor, control and maintain their network of charging stations. It is a critical component for ensuring the efficient and reliable operation of charging stations.
  • Charge Point Operator (CPO): An entity or organization responsible for the operation, management, and maintenance of electric vehicle charging stations. The CPO is involved in various aspects of the charging infrastructure, including the installation, networking and customer service associated with EV charging.
  • Charger cable: Delivers power from the power source to the EV.
  • Charging Port: A plug on a charging station that sends electricity into a vehicle battery. A charging station may have more than one port. Also called an electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) port.
  • Charging Site: A location that hosts charging equipment for public use. A charging site can have multiple charging stations.
  • Charging Station: A wall-mounted or free-standing charging cabinet that has the capability to charge one or more EVs. Sometimes called a charge point or EVSE.
  • Connector: A connector is what is plugged into a vehicle to charge it. Multiple connectors and connector types (such as CHAdeMO and CCS) can be available on one EVSE port, but only one vehicle will charge at a time. Connectors are sometimes called plugs.
  • Electric Vehicles (EVs): Unlike traditional ICE vehicles that rely on gasoline or diesel fuel, EVs vehicles are powered by one or more electric motors, which use electrical energy stored in batteries or other energy storage devices as their primary source of propulsion.
    • BEV: An electric vehicle that is solely powered by electricity from an on-board rechargeable battery pack. BEVs do not have an internal combustion engine and do not rely on gasoline or diesel fuel for propulsion.
    • Hybrid (HEV) and PHEV: Electric vehicles that use a combined on-board rechargeable battery back and ICE for propulsion. Regular hybrid EVs cannot be and do not need to be plugged in. PHEVs can be plugged into charging stations to recharge the battery.
  • On-board charger: Critical for communication between an EV and charging station. On-board charger communication protocols are key to ensuring compatibility and interoperability between different charging stations and EVs.
  • Station Location: A station location is a site with one or more EVSE ports at the same address. Examples include a parking garage or a mall parking lot. Also called charging point or charging station.

See additional terminology information on the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation’s Drive Electric Website.


Battery Electric Vehicles & Low Carbon Fuel Survey: A Nationally Representative Multi-Mode Survey, Consumer Reports, April 2022

Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Public Charging Study, J.D. Power

Electric Vehicle Sales and the Charging Infrastructure Required Through 2030, Edison Electric Institute, June 2022

EV Planning Resources: Cost Analysis, U.S. Department of Transportation

Insights for More Reliable Electric Vehicles, Consumer Reports, January 2022

Survey: EV Concerns Are Easing but Lower-Income Shoppers Feel Left Behind, Autolist, July 24, 2023

SAE J3400 Charging Connector, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation