Rural Residents and Commuters are Key to Meeting PEV Goals

Residents outside of densely populated regions of the state are forced to rely on inadequate charging infrastructure. While counties that are considered entirely rural or predominantly rural account for 17 percent of California’s total area, they have been allocated less than a half a percent of the total number of charging stations.

Percentage of Rural Counties in California

 NOTE: Counties that are excluded from this table are considered not to be primarily rural, though they still may have large rural portions.

NOTE: Counties that are excluded from this table are considered not to be primarily rural, though they still may have large rural portions.

Further, California has 2,597 zip codes spread across 58 counties throughout the state, the vast majority of which do not have any public charging stations. At this more granular level, it becomes apparent that there is a strong tendency for charging stations to be clustered together. Presently, only 37 percent of zip codes in the state have a Level II charging station or a DCFC port available to PEV drivers, most of which are found within just a dozen counties. The clustering of charging stations around cities and more populated areas results in large swaths of the state lacking any of this crucial infrastructure. Not only do drivers within these zip codes have less available charging stations in aggregate, they must also travel further to use them. These drivers must often rely solely on home charging, imposing drive range constraints and suppressing the overall benefits of PEV ownership.

Californian Zip Codes with at least one Charging Station

 NOTE: This graphic displays zip codes with a minimum of one charging port. It does not provide detail on if the charging needs for a zip code are being met.

NOTE: This graphic displays zip codes with a minimum of one charging port. It does not provide detail on if the charging needs for a zip code are being met.

The lack of charging infrastructure becomes even more glaring when identifying zip codes that have DCFC ports available. As seen with Level II chargers, DCFCs cluster around urban areas. However, a much smaller proportion of zip codes have DCFCs installed. Of California’s 2,597 zip codes, DCFC ports are found in only 407 of them. This accounts for only 16 percent of all zip codes across the state. A result of DCFC ports being centered around densely populated areas is almost zero availability in regions outside the Bay Area and coastal Southern California. 

Outside of the Bay Area and the greater Los Angeles region, it becomes prohibitively difficult to embark on journeys of more than 100 miles for many BEV models. Commuters must rely on either Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and ICEVs or utilize Level II charging stations, the latter of which can make a journey overly time consuming. Anxiety stemming from range limitations and lack of charging stations, therefore, forces PEV drivers to constrain their journeys to lengths from which they are able to return home, or run the risk of becoming stranded.

Californian Zip Codes with at least one DCFC Port

 NOTE: This graphic displays zip codes with a minimum of one DCFC port. It does not provide information on whether the charging needs for a zip code are being met.

NOTE: This graphic displays zip codes with a minimum of one DCFC port. It does not provide information on whether the charging needs for a zip code are being met.