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The best (and worst) US states for EV charging

The electric vehicle is here to stay. As EV sales grow year-over-year in the US and the rest of the world, charging infrastructure is growing with it. In the US specifically, certain states are far better equipped than others to support the rising number of EV drivers on their roads. Below is a breakdown of some of the best states for EV charging along with some of the… less than best.

Breaking down the US by EV charging

Anyone who has visited the US can attest that it’s a rather large country with 50+ cultural and economic identities. United federally, but still independent locally, these states are responsible for much of their own governing and decisions as it pertains to that specific state. This includes charging infrastructure.

As the number of electric vehicles on roads grows, many states are not equipped with the charging network this zero-emission shift requires. On the flip side, others are much better off to start. Factors such as size, geography, weather conditions, and even culture have all had their affect on how quickly or slowly electrification has been adapted.

Some states are working tirelessly to keep up, and others are not as focused since the number of EV sales remains a small percentage in comparison to ICE vehicles.

Additionally, other states have the foresight to recognize this impending demand, and have already begun implementing charging infrastructure in anticipation of an EV boom.

As you will see below, there is more to this equation than simply how many EVs are on roads in a given state, versus how many chargers are available (although we do share that data as well). Let’s break it down.

How data for best states for EV charging was found

To determine which states are truly the best for EV charging, Zutobi released a detailed report using data from US government sites. We then took this same strategy and updated it using the most up-to-date stats.

For example, the number of public charging outlets in each state is sourced from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Alternative Fuel Station Counts by State report. This report was last updated on November 8, 2021. This number was based on the total number of charging outlets, regardless of charging type (level 1, 2, DC fast charge).

To best determine the number of EVs charging in each state, the DOE’s Electric Vehicle Registrations by State was used. The data refers to the number of registered electric vehicles as of June 2021.

To calculate the total number of vehicles registered in each state, we sourced data from the US Department of Transportation’s State Motor-Vehicle Registrations 2019. The data used was the number of private and commercially owned automobiles.

Lastly, the number of EVs per mile in each state was calculated using US road data from 2019, gathered by the Institute for Policy & Social Research at University of Kansas. The total length of road (in miles) was divided by the number of EV charger outlets in each state to determine how far apart chargers theoretically are on average.

This is the most up-to-date data from the US government as of the time of this article’s publishing. We will update this information from time to time.

ChargePoint Polestar

States with the most and least EV charging points

As you can see from the data below, the number of registered EVs still pales in comparison compared to the overall number of registered vehicles for each state.

Based on sheer number of charging outlets alone, the top three states in the US are California, New York, and Florida, respectively.

This make sense, given all three states’ geographical size and large populations in comparison to other states. Additionally, California and Florida are also the top two states with both the most registered EVs and total vehicles overall. Texas comes in at third.

Conversely, Alaska has the fewest total number of EV charging outlets followed by the Dakotas. We will give Alaska a pass since nearly 50% of the state remains uninhabited, but North and South Dakota have some catching up to do. Wyoming and Montana do, too.

If it wasn’t already clear by now, California is leading the pack in nearly every category. But as you will see below, that doesn’t necessarily make The Golden State the best to charge your EV in the future.

The data chart (sorted by state)

New Hampshire2,690486,5140.55%3158.5451.38
New Jersey30,4202,616,2791.16%1,63818.5723.79
New Mexico2,620635,2720.41%4016.53179.12
New York32,5904,425,7220.74%6,6794.8817.06
North Carolina16,1903,390,0870.48%2,3656.8545.51
North Dakota220224,9520.10%1321.67667.94
Rhode Island1,580389,4250.41%5332.9611.27
South Carolina4,3901,724,3960.26%7745.67102.37
South Dakota410337,3670.12%1482.77553.85
Washington DC*2,360184,8321.28%6843.452.22
West Virginia600525,1590.11%2692.23144.52
US TOTAL/AVG.1,019,260107,180,6350.95%111,4779.1437.42
*District of Columbia is technically not a state

States with the most electric vehicles per public charger port

As previously stated, the best states for charging your EV are determined by more than simply the number of charging outlets. Instead, we have compared the number of available charging outlets against the number of registered EVs per state to analyze those ratios and see how they stack up.

This method showcases how equipped (or not) a given state is for EV charging based on how many EVs are theoretically fighting for a charger outlet.

1. New Jersey

New Jersey tops our list by nearly four more EVs per charger compared to second place. The Garden State has an impressive 30,420 registered EVs, chasing its neighbor New York which only leads by 2,000 more. Despite its robust EV numbers, the lack of charging is apparent – just 1,638 chargers averaging over 18 EVs per charger in the state. Luckily, New Jersey is in a great location in the Northeast. Try Pennsylvania or Delaware as backups.

2. Arizona

If you’re one of the 28k+ EV drivers in The Grand Canyon State, you may have already noticed some infrastructural issues when trying to charge. The number of registered EVs in the state puts AZ in the top half of its US class, but with less than 2,000 charging ports available, you may find yourself waiting to get a charge more often than in other states. Mathematically, there are more than 14 EVs in the state per charger..

3. Hawaii

The scarcity of EV chargers, at least in comparison to the number of EVs on the islands makes sense, given the Aloha State’s geographical limitations. Despite being 2,000 miles from the contiguous United States, Hawaii still has more registered EVs (10,670) than several other states combined. However, with only 743 chargers available, Hawaii residents also (theoretically) face over 14 EVs per charger. Not to mention that those 743 chargers exist across multiple islands.

States with the least EVs per charge port

Using the same method, there are several states have a much better ratio of chargers to EVs. That being said, many of the lower ratios are the result of both low EV registrations and limited chargers.

North Dakota offers the smallest ratio of EVs per charger at 1.67, which sounds pretty ideal for EV drivers in The Peace Garden State. The issue, however, is that there are only 220 of them.

South Dakota tells a similar tale, with 410 registered EVs and only 148 chargers. That’s 2.77 EVs per.

Vermont touts higher registered EVs with 2,230 and also has 834 charging ports. That equals a ratio of around 2.67 EVs per charger and a viable state to find an open port.

The best states for public charging points based on mileage

To keep things theoretical but expose how much charging infrastructure is lacking in most states, we broke things down by mileage. We accomplished this by comparing the number of charging outlets available against how many miles of road exist in each state.

From here you can see the theoretical distance between each EV charger, if you were to distribute them out equidistant across each state’s roads. Many distances are manageable, but other states might require over 600 miles of range just to get you to your next charge.

1. Washington, DC

Alright, it’s technically not a state, but it probably should be. DC is the home to the federal government and so much more. This includes 684 public charging ports across the district, one every 2.2 miles. The data may be slightly skewed since DC only has about 1,500 miles of roads. Even so, DC has over 2,300 registered EVs – that’s over 10x more than North Dakota.

2. California

The largest state on the left coast comes in at second on our list with an impressive ration given its sheer numbers. California remains years ahead of all states in current EV infrastructure, having 180x more registered vehicles and 50x more charging outlets than DC. Its mileage ratio is simply more evidence of such as well. While The Golden State contains over 175,000 miles of roadways, one of its 34k+ EV chargers is theoretically available every 5.05 miles.

3. Hawaii

Entering the top three again is Hawaii. With such limited space (you know, because of mountains and volcanoes), Hawaii only offers about 4,500 miles of roads. Given its 743 chargers outlined above, however, EV drivers should theoretically find a charging port every 6.06 miles.

States with the most spread-out charging points

While the states listed above may still have some work to do for future charging infrastructure, their current ratio has them on the right path to support more electric vehicle transitions, at least in manageable proximity. The following states are not so well equipped.

Montana has the third-largest distance between EV chargers – about 359 miles between each of the 205 charging ports in the state spread out evenly across the 73,647 miles of Big Sky Country.

South Dakota blows that distance out of the water. With only 148 public chargers and nearly 82,000 miles of roadways, The Mount Rushmore State theoretically has nearly 554 miles between each charging pile.

Last and opposite of least is Dakota’s top half. North Dakota offers slightly more roads (~89,000 miles) compared to South Dakota, but only has 132 public chargers within its state lines. That’s a distance of 668 miles between chargers. Unfortunately there is not an EV in existence that can travel that distance on a single charge… at least not yet.

What are the best states to charge your EV?

If you take all the ratios out of the equation, the best place to currently charge your electric vehicle is California by a long shot. That’s based on the mere fact that the state is currently home to nearly 35,000 chargers and growing by the day.

That being said, it also has the highest number of EVs in the country, so there will be more people looking to charge up, too. Thanks to idle fees and DC supercharging, your chances of finding an open charger nearby are still pretty good.

North Dakota has the best ratio of chargers to EVs, but those numbers don’t hold much water since US EV adoption is its most anemic in Roughrider Country.

Washington, DC, seems well equipped to handle growing EV drivers, and currently has the closest ratio of EV chargers per capita, albeit a tiny sample map compared to any actual state. Vermont and Massachusetts have some decent averages across the board, although neither were in the top (or bottom) three states in any category.

Other sites have done similar comparisons and have used their data to create a scoring system. This report from Bumper has some of the same data plus a lot more. Check it out to see how your state stacks up in their scoring system.

Charging infrastructure in the US looking forward

President Joe Biden has been busy during his first year in office. First, he vowed to make the nation’s entire federal fleet all electric. That hasn’t quite gone to plan yet. However, the White House has already introduced two bills to reform the federal tax credit for EVs.

This will expand thresholds on the number of EVs manufacturers like Tesla and GM have surpassed to once again qualify for federal tax credits.

The recently passed 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill promises $7.5 billion to help establish a nationwide network of EV charging stations, plus an additional $65 billion to be invested in clean energy and renewables for the US electricity grid.

As the number of electric vehicles undoubtedly grows in each state, some will be better prepared than others. States like California and Florida, for example, are implementing charging outlets step for step with the growing number of EV sales.

Other states like Vermont and Massachusetts may not have the largest number of EVs within their state lines, but if they were to continue installing chargers at the same pace, they would easily stay ahead of the game on infrastructure.

Other states like the Dakotas are not so well prepared. Sure, they don’t have as many EVs to worry about charging just yet, but the next decade will transform our vehicle landscape, and there will need to be resources in place to keep these vessels charged.

Including DC, the US alone has over 1 million EVs registered and over 110,000 public chargers. Not bad, but there’s certainly room for growth. Especially since EVs still only account for roughly 1% of vehicles on US roads.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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