GM Tackles the Problem: Where Do I Charge My Electric Vehicle?

Chevy Bolts at charging station in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo Credit: ADAM DAVIS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
July 10, 2019

By Rebecca Heilweil

Electric vehicles are on the market, but many potential buyers wonder: where do you charge them?

Along with high prices, the availability of charging stations has remained a key concern of consumers who are interested in, but nervous about, purchasing electric vehicles.

"We know that charging infrastructure is a key barrier for a lot of people as far as their reason for not adopting an electric vehicle," General Motors electric vehicle and charging infrastructure manager Kelly Helfrich told Cheddar.

In May, it was announced that GM had partnered with Bechtel Corp to building a network of electric car charging stations throughout the U.S., but the investors that have been invited to participate in the project are not yet clear.

In a positive sign for electric vehicle manufacturers, the Department of Energy reported this week that there are now more than 68,000 electric vehicle charging units, and more than 20,000 stations, in the U.S.

A single state ⁠— California ⁠— is home to nearly a third of those units.

The numbers are up from years prior. In 2017, there were about 42,000 charging units and 16,000 stations in the country.

Helfrich stressed that not all charging stations are the same, and pointed to the efforts of SAE International, an international trade association of engineers, to develop a standard for fast-charging public units.

She also added that people may overestimate how often they need publicly-available chargers.

"A lot of our electric vehicle customers, and I assume a lot of electric vehicle drivers on a broader scale, are mostly charging at home," said Helfrich. "It's also important to note that, on average, Americans are driving 40 to 50 miles per day. So a home or a workplace charging opportunity is perfect for the average American."

Last year, about 20 percent of Americans said they would be interested in purchasing an electrical vehicle, a 5 percent increase from the year before. And according to surveys from AAA, consumers' concerns that they'll run out of charge while driving, or won't have access to a charging station, has declined since 2017.

General Motors has committed to increasing its electrical vehicle offerings, and, eventually, going fully electric.