America is going electric. With sales increasing by 65% in 2022, electric vehicles are moving from an outlier in the auto industry to the wave of the future.
For that to happen, though, the country needs a robust network of charging stations across all states. To help, President Joe Biden signed a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill in 2021 that allocates $7.5 billion toward building 500,000 more public EV chargers by 2030.
Tesla, by far the global leader in EVs, has committed to making at least 3,500 of its US Supercharger stations and 4,000 Level 2 charging docks available to all brands of electric vehicles by the end of next year.
But what does the map of US charging stations look like today?
For more on EVs, find out the best electric cars of 2023 and learn how to charge a non-Tesla car at a Supercharger station.
Which state has the most EV charging stations?
There are roughly 51,000 public stations across the US, according to the US Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center,.
California is leading the charge by far: The Golden State has approximately 14,040 public charging stations and some 37,987 ports.
That's more than four times more than New York, the next highest-ranked state.
The California Energy Commission hopes to add even more -- and reach more disadvantaged communities -- with a new $30 million incentive project that would bring additional stations to eastern California, the Central Valley and the Central Coast.
"These funds will help fill the gap in areas where we know charging is needed the most to bring the benefits of clean transportation to all Californians," CEC Commissioner Patty Monahan said in a statement.
Below is the Department of Energy's ranking of public EV stations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia as of March 2023.
EV Charging Station Counts by State
|State||Number of public charging stations|
|District of Columbia||270|
Why the Great Plains is an EV desert
While Alaska has the fewest EV charging stations -- just 59 -- it's also the least densely populated state in the nation.
In the continental US, the states with the worst coverage are in the upper Midwest -- Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota and Wyoming. (Minnesota would join them but, according to the Pew Trusts, its numbers are skewed by Minneapolis-St. Paul.)
Part of that absence can be chalked up to demographics -- North Dakota, for example, has fewer than 800,000 residents and just 400 registered EVs and 82 charging stations.
But there are other factors at play, too.
Geography. Populated areas are just rarer in the Great Plains. The maximum range for the average EV is just 211 miles. That won't even get a Nebraskan from Lincoln to North Platte.
Ethanol. Corn-producing states like Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota are wary of anything that could jeopardize demand for corn ethanol, a highly subsidized biofuel added to more than 98% of gasoline in the US to reduce pollution.
Weather. Cold weather can zap battery life by as much as 40%, according to AAA, making EVs less appealing in a region with some of the lowest average temperatures in the country.
Politics. The northern Midwest is staunchly red -- most of the region has voted Republican since Richard Nixon. And Republicans have long opposed investing in electric cars. Had it not failed, the GOP-sponsored Eliminate Lavish Incentives to Electric (ELITE) Vehicles Act of 2021 would have killed federal tax credits for EVs.
Which states have banned the sale of gas-powered cars?
In August 2022, the California Air Resources Board approved regulations requiring all new cars, SUVs and pickup trucks sold in the state to have zero emissions by 2035.
That essentially spelled the end for combustion-engine new vehicle sales, though residents will still be able to purchase used gas-powered cars or buy new ones out of state.
According to the Clean Air Act, all states must either adhere to federal standards for vehicle emissions or adopt California's more stringent guidelines.
Seventeen states have traditionally linked their emission standards to California's regulations. But only a handful -- Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington -- have clearly signaled they'll follow suit in this case, the Associated Press reported.
Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates voted to repeal a 2021 law adopting California's rules, but the bill was defeated in the Democrat-controlled state Senate.
Signed by Gov. Tim Walz in 2021, Minnesota's "Clean Car Rule" ties the state to California's standards but doesn't automatically trigger a ban on gas-powered cars. Auto dealers who failed to get the law struck down in court in January may appeal, the Associated Press reported.
Which carmakers are going all in on electric?
Reading the writing on the walls, leading automakers have started prioritizing zero-emission vehicles.
General Motors has said it will phase out petroleum-powered cars by the time California's law takes full effect in 2035. GM has vowed to be carbon-neutral by 2040, both in its vehicles and manufacturing operations.
Mercedes-Benz will offer fully electric versions of all its cars by 2025 -- and has announced it will cease production of gas-powered vehicles "where market conditions allow" by the end of the decade.
That's when Stellantis, parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and Jeep, says 100% of its sales in Europe and 50% of sales in the US will be battery electric vehicles.
Porsche has announced plans to make more than 80% of its cars electric by 2030.
Other carmakers vowing to go all-electric include Jaguar (2025), Volvo (2030), Rolls-Royce (2030) and Honda (2040).
Ford pledged to ditch gas-powered cars in 2030, but only in Europe. Volkswagen has vowed to go all-electric on the continent by 2033.
Kia and Hyundai both have plans to ramp up their EV offerings, though neither has said anything about going all in.
Back in 2017, Toyota said it would phase out traditional internal combustion engines by 2040. But while the Japanese automaker has led the way with hybrids, Toyota director Shigeki Terashi said in a 2021 investors' call that it was "too early to concentrate on one option," at least until 2050.
In January, though, incoming CEO Koji Sato said "the time is right" for an EV-first approach. Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, is slated to go fully electric by 2035.