EV Charging Myths Debunked

No, every gas pump in the U.S. isn’t going to be converted to an EV charger.

February 15, 2022

EV Charging

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—After the Biden Administration released its $5 billion plan to fund an electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, claims surrounding a hypothetical scenario in which all U.S. gas stations would be replaced with equal capacity EV charging stations spread on social media, reports USA Today.

“Fun EV fact: To match the 2,000 cars that a typical filling station can service in 12 hours, an EV charging station requires 600 50-kW chargers at an estimated cost of $24 million and a supply of 30 megawatts of power from the grid. For. Each. Filling. Station. In. America,” one Facebook post read.

This hypothetical scenario has not been proposed by any federal, state or industry leaders, plus the posts bungle the reality of EV charging times and gas station traffic, according to USA Today.

While technically it is possible for a gas station to serve 2,000 cars in 12 hours, each vehicle driver would have to park, pump, pay and leave within 3.6 minutes, according to Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic initiatives. Lenard estimates that U.S. gas stations actually serve about 150 vehicles every 12 hours.

Also, the post says that it would take 600 50-kW EV chargers 12 hours to charge 2,000 cars, and experts say this is a vast overestimate of EV charging time and capacity.

Ian Miller, a research associate at the MIT Energy Initiative, says that the average electric car battery capacity in the U.S. is roughly 60 kWh, and he estimates that it would take about 72 minutes to fully charge such a car on a 50-kW charger. Even if each vehicle driver received an additional four minutes to pay, park and leave (more time than the gas cars were allotted), it would take less than five hours to charge 2,000 EVs, reports USA Today.

What’s more, even if the vehicle fleet turned over to EVs tomorrow, it will take decades before all vehicles on the road are electric. Conventional internal combustion engine vehicles will still be the norm, and gas stations will serve them.

According to Jessika Trancik, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, EV charging infrastructure doesn’t need to mirror the liquid fueling industry because most EV owners charge their cars at home.

“Charging at home or work will represent the majority of electric vehicle charging,” Michael Berube, a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Energy, told USA TODAY.

This type of charging uses slower, level 2 chargers, running at 3.3-6.6 kW and cost an average of $1,400 to install at home, according to the Department of Transportation website.

“If you magically replaced all gas cars with EVs tomorrow, you would need fewer refueling stations, because no one has a gas station in their home, but roughly half of U.S. car owners do have an electricity station” if they install a charger, Miller told USA TODAY.

Gas stations aren’t the only places to install these slower EV chargers. They can also be placed on streets near homes, in parking facilities, workplaces and hotels.

Faster, 50-kW chargers reportedly make more sense near interstates, highways and in rural areas, where people are driving long distances, and in cases where EV owners don’t have access to home or work chargers. This is where gas stations would come in, and EV owners could quickly “fill up” there once a week or so.

A recent Convenience Matters podcast episode discusses how EVs are the future, and another episode explains how convenience retailers can attract and retain EV customers.

Visit the NACS Electric Vehicles topics page for more information about EVs. The NACS EV Charging Calculator was created to allow retailers to assess the cost and profitability of offering EV chargers at their sites. The calculator focuses on what retailer utility costs associated with EV recharging are and what the corresponding revenue must be to recover those costs after allowing for potential ancillary in-store visits and purchase profitability.

Read more about electricity demand charges and what they mean for retailers’ ability to turn a profit from EV charging in the September issue of NACS Magazine.