California has made significant progress in its efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by surpassing its goal of installing 10,000 fast chargers. These direct-current fast chargers (DCFC) are crucial for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) as they allow drivers to quickly recharge their batteries while on the road. With power outputs ranging from 50 kW to 350 kW, fast chargers can charge an EV battery to 80 percent in as quickly as 20 minutes, compared to the several hours required by Level 2 chargers.
Former Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order in 2018 set the target of installing 250,000 EV chargers, including 10,000 fast chargers, by 2025. California has nearly quadrupled the number of public and shared private fast chargers, exceeding the initial goal. However, the state is still behind in reaching its target of 250,000 total chargers by 2025, with only about 93,800 chargers in place, of which only 41,000 are fully public.
California has over 1.6 million EVs, with 25 percent of new cars sold in the first quarter of 2023 being electric vehicles. To support the anticipated transition to 7 million electric vehicles by 2030, the state will require more than 1 million public and shared private chargers, including 39,000 fast chargers. This highlights the need to accelerate the pace of charger installation to keep up with the rising demand in EV sales.
Despite the challenges, the installation of 10,000 fast chargers is a significant achievement, considering the high costs and permitting complexities involved. To further incentivize EV infrastructure development, federal and state incentive programs are crucial in reducing financial risks and attracting private investment.
Notably, California has invested billions in incentives, including the recently opened applications for $38 million in equity-focused incentives for public charging stations in low-income and disadvantaged communities. Additionally, a new bill is awaiting Governor Newsom’s signature that would provide close to $2 billion for zero-emission vehicle incentives and infrastructure support.
While California is leading the way, the rest of the country has a long way to go in terms of EV infrastructure. The three most populous states after California have only a fraction of the number of fast chargers, with Alaska having the fewest at just 32. However, the federal government has set a goal of installing 500,000 chargers nationwide by 2030 and has allocated $5 billion through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program to support EV infrastructure development.
Source: Grist, California Energy Commission