Electric cars still face a big hurdle: the charging system

Electric cars hit a new global sales record in 2017 — 1 million cars sold, with more than half of that in China — but there may be a hitch to mass adoption: the number of adequate charging stations available. Before consumers take the plunge on a new electric car, they need to know that they can charge it.
The number of electric charging stations in the US is small but growing. As of September 2018, there are an estimated 22,000 public charging stations in the US and Canada that are classified as level 2 and DC fast charging. (Typically, fast-charging stations supply 60 to 80 miles of range for every 20 minutes of charging.) By comparison, there are seven times more gas stations: about 168,000, according to FuelEconomy.gov.
Whether that plan is still in motion under the Trump administration is anyone’s guess. Trump hasn’t said much about electric cars, though he has kicked off the process of rolling back Obama-era fuel standards. That could make gas-guzzling vehicles cheaper to buy, and in an era of cheap gas, it could make the incentive to make the leap from gas to electric that much harder. Moreover, Trump’s trade war with China is expected to impact the price of batteries and other elements of the EV supply chain.
Charging station operators are counting on growing demand as well as help from local governments to offset problems at the federal level. Earlier this year, California, New York, and New Jersey agreed to spend a combined $1.3 billion in the coming years to help expand the number of EV charging stations. And as the biggest market for electric vehicles in the US, California is going the extra mile. At a time when the electric vehicle federal tax credit is phasing out for Tesla buyers, the state is considering increasing its EV rebate to $4,500.

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