The exact number of gas stations in America is debated, but in 2020 Marketwatch calculated there were around 115,000.
How many EV charging stations would you reckon there are? Incredibly, as of this year (2023) there are “over 130,000 public [EV] chargers across the country,” according to the White House. S&P Global Mobility puts the number even higher, at over 160,000.
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However, there’s a few reasons EV owners will tell you they don’t consider charging stations ubiquitous or convenient. Some charging stations can only handle a few vehicles at a time, unlike larger gas stations; they’re not always conveniently located, as gas stations are; some are in poorly-lit locations that don’t communicate “safety” at night; sometimes they just flat-out don’t work and lack an attendant you can tell; and just a fraction of charging stations are Level 3, i.e. fast-charging stations.
Obviously, the much-predicted EV revolution cannot happen without a conveniently-located network of reliable fast-charging stations. But who is going to provide these? The government says they’ll build a national network of 500,000 by 2030—but even if they pull that off, S&P calculates that by 2030 “an estimated total of 2.13 million Level 2 and 172,000 Level 3 public chargers will be required” based on an estimate of 28.3 million EVs on the road by then.
Enter Walmart, who released a surprising statement this month. “By 2030, we intend to build our own EV fast-charging network at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club locations coast-to-coast,” the commerce giant writes.
“With a store or club located within 10 miles of approximately 90% of Americans, we are uniquely positioned to deliver a convenient charging option that will help make EV ownership possible whether people live in rural, suburban or urban areas. Our goal is to meet the needs of customers and members where they live and open the road to those driving across the country. Easy access to on-the-go charging is a game-changer for drivers who have been hesitant to purchase an EV for concerns they won’t be able to find a charger in a clean, bright and safe location when needed.”
The company also says they “aim to offer Every Day Low Price charging – helping ease transportation costs, still the second highest household cost for much of our country.”