The claim: Replacing all U.S. gas stations with equal capacity EV charging stations would require significant resources
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes more than $7 billion to support the continued development of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the U.S.
“Fun EV fact,” reads a Jan. 16 Facebook post. “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.”
The post received over 1,000 interactions in five days. A Jan. 16 version of this claim on Twitter was retweeted more than 750 times in 9 days.
But this claim addresses a hypothetical scenario that has not been proposed on a federal, state or industry level. An EV transition would not rely on the replacement of all U.S. gas stations with equal capacity EV charging stations, according to experts.
The post also contains misleading statements about EV charging times and gas station traffic.
USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the post for comment.
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Replacing all gas stations with EV charging stations is not necessary, nor a widely considered approach
EV charging infrastructure does not need to mirror the infrastructure that serves gasoline vehicles, according to Jessika Trancik, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“When we’re talking about EV charging, you don’t have to put charging stations everywhere you have gas stations today,” said Trancik. “This would not make sense as a plan for rolling out electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”
This is because, rather than driving to a centralized station to refuel, most EV owners charge at home overnight or during other stretches of time when they’re not using their car.
“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 in an email.
Such charging typically makes use of slower “Level 2” chargers, according to Ian Miller, a research associate at the MIT Energy Initiative.
These chargers, which run 3.3-6.6 kW, 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, he told USA TODAY in an email.
Slower chargers can also be positioned near residences on streets and in parking garages and lots, said Trancik. Chargers at workplaces and hotels can also provide charging outside the home.
Public fast-charging stations – which can include 50 kW chargers – are much more expensive than the slower chargers but would have a role as well.
“It makes sense to install faster chargers along highways and rural roads where people are driving long distances,” said Trancik.
Faster charging stations are also one potential solution for EV owners who don’t have access to charging at home or work, according to Eric Wood, a research engineer at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In this case, the EV service station would function more like a traditional gas station, where consumers could go every week or so to “fill up.”
However, “I can say with confidence that, from anyone in the industry, there’s no plan to replace every gas station with an electric fast-charging station,” Wood told USA TODAY.
Kerry Arndt, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, also told USA TODAY in an email there is no working federal plan or proposal to convert all U.S. gas stations to equal capacity charging stations. Nor was she familiar with any such plan on the state level.
Post misleads about gas station use, misstates EV charging requirements
In addition to wrongly implying that replacing every U.S. gas station with an equal capacity charging station is a serious or widely considered plan, the post provides misleading information about this hypothetical situation.
The post says, “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.”
It may technically be possible for a gas station to service 2,000 cars in 12 hours, but it would be under special circumstances and definitely does not reflect normal usage, experts told USA TODAY.
Based on daily gas consumption rates by light-duty vehicles and the number of gas stations, Miller estimated the average U.S. gas station serves more like 100 cars every 12 hours, not 2,000.
Jeff Lenard, a spokesperson for the National Association of Convenience Stores, estimated a slightly higher volume, around 150.
Gas stations in the U.S. have roughly 10 fueling positions on average, Lenard told USA TODAY in an email. For such a station to service 2,000 cars in 12 hours, each car would have to park, pump, pay and leave within 3.6 minutes.
Additionally, the post overstates the time it would take for 600 50 kW EV chargers to charge 2,000 EVs, even if such a huge number were actually needed.
The average electric car battery capacity in the U.S. is roughly 60 kWh, according to Miller. It would take roughly 72 minutes to fully charge such a car on a 50 kW charger.
Even if each vehicle 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.
However, Miller emphasized this remains an unrealistic scenario.
Our rating: Partly False
Based on our research, we rate PARTLY FALSE the claim that replacing all U.S. gas stations with equal capacity EV charging stations would require significant resources. This claim is built on a hypothetical scenario that experts say has no basis in reality. There are no plans at any level to replace all gas stations with EV charging stations. Further, the post misleads on the number of fill-ups taking place at gas stations and the time needed to charge electric vehicles.
Our fact-check sources:
- Jessika Trancik, Jan. 21, Phone interview with USA TODAY
- Jessika Trancik, Jan. 20-Feb. 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Ian Miller, Jan. 20-Feb. 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Wei Wei, Jan. 21-24, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Eric Wood, Jan. 28, Phone interview with USA TODAY
- Kerry Arndt, Jan. 27-31, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Michael Berube, Feb. 1, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Jeff Lenard, Feb. 2, Phone interview with USA TODAY
- Jeff Lenard, Feb. 2-4, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Matteo Muratori, Feb. 4, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- National Association of Convenience Stores, Mar. 24, 2021, Convenience Stores Sell the Most Fuel
- Bureau of Transportation Statistics, accessed Feb. 2, Number of U.S. Aircraft, Vehicles, Vessels, and Other Conveyances
- Department of Energy, accessed Feb. 2, Charging Plug-In Electric Vehicles at home
- MIT News, Jan. 21, 2021, How to get more electric cars on the road
- The White House, Dec. 13, 2021, Fact sheet: The Biden-Harris Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan
- EIA, accessed Feb. 8, Gasoline explained
- Department of Transportation, Nov. 23, 2020, The Estimated Average Cost to Install Chargers and Outlets for Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging for a Single-Family House is $1,400
- Nature Energy, Jan. 21, 2021, Personal vehicle electrification and charging solutions for high-energy days
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