At BlastPoint, we’ve been using AI to predict EV adoption closely throughout the country. Unsurprisingly, suburban homeowners with garages lead national EV sales. As federal money becomes more available, public and private sector businesses have an opportunity to drive demand by making EV charging more accessible to households without private charging.
Purchasing a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is a large commitment. The buy-in isn’t just mileage, how large the engine is, or what color the interior is. No, going electric involves charging. Buyers need to consider how and where they might charge up to ensure their BEV can make it from point A to Z.
Charging is a top concern for consumers considering going all-electric. In fact, a survey by AAA Motor Club found that beyond cost, 60% of consumers are concerned there are not enough places to charge, 58% are concerned about running out of battery power while driving, and 31% are unable to install a charging station where they live.
Take a look at the map below. Using AI and machine learning, BlastPoint’s algorithms identified three levels of adoption readiness at the Census Tract level based on key behavioral attributes.
- Ready to Adopt: indicated in green, you can see these areas are sprinkled throughout the country primarily around major cities. Two factors contribute to EV adoption in these suburban areas: logistics and economics.
- Roadblocks to Adoption: indicated in red are tracts where many barriers to adoption exist.
For this article, our focus is zooming in on green and yellow tract areas. For more information about red tracts and EV Adoption, you can read BlastPoint’s full 2022 Report by downloading it here.
- Ready to Adopt Soon: indicated in yellow. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when zoomed out. Yellow indicates tracts of middle-income homeowners (including single-family home renters), owning at least one vehicle, and includes a range of educational attainment.
Zoomed-out, the majority of the country may be ready to adopt soon (yellow), yet barriers – including infrastructure – exist keeping much of the country from starting. But, our data reveals that’s not the complete story for all yellow tracts.
In this article, we want to zoom in, at a household level, to help businesses gain a new perspective on what charging means for BEV adoption in their community. We explain what demand suppression is, what it looks like, and how businesses can utilize data to focus their resources on promoting adoption in their communities.
But first, let’s look at the current state of BEVs and the difference between public and private charging.
BEVs: Private Chargers vs. “Free” Chargers
As of December 2021, there were over 1.6 million BEV registered in the US. Furthermore, according to a report from BloombergNEF, “it’s expected that just over half of passenger cars sold in the US will be electric vehicles by 2030.” As the demand for BEVs increases, so will the need for chargers.
While most BEV owners charge at home, buyers who do not own a home need to rely on public and private charging station networks. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center:
- Total EV Charging Stations: 103,000 (includes both ‘free’ and private stations)
- Total Free EV Charging Stations: 9,300 (“Free” includes public charging stations regardless of capitalization, excluding any that require a parking fee for access.)
Following are some examples of where both private and public charging stations exist.
Private Charging Networks
These stations exist at businesses with larger campuses like hospitals, hotels, and universities. Additionally, we are seeing large organizations installing stations as they transition their fleets to electric. However, these networks are available only to employees, or members of the campus organization.
Free Charging Networks
Free charging networks are sprinkled along our nation’s highways and interstates. Additionally, BEV owners can access stations at participating grocery stores, gas stations, malls, casinos, and even National Park Service recreation centers.
While there are – and always will be – more fee-based and private chargers in the US, ‘free’ charging stations (9,300) are nearly invisible in comparison to private (~100,000) ones. Considering there are more than 145,000 publicly available gas stations to power our gas and diesel-powered vehicles – we have a long way to go to get EV charging stations to that availability.
Zooming Back In: The Suburban Donut
Across the US, BlastPoint’s EV adoption model has identified rings of high EV growth around urban areas. It’s a phenomenon we like to call the “suburban donut.” Essentially, this means that EV adoption is taking off faster in the suburbs and exurbs than in city centers themselves across the country.
As an example, take a look at Atlanta, Georgia, below. We can see on the left that Atlanta (green) has the potential to adopt EVs at a quicker rate than anywhere else in the state. However, when we zoom in on the city (to the right), we notice the center of the city is yellow, showing a propensity of “ready to adopt soon”.
The Donut Hole: Suppressed Demand
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, green areas have similar contributing factors that make it possible to adopt sooner than others: logistics and economics. This segment of buyers share similar attributes including: homeowners, making more than $100,000 annually, and own at least one other vehicle. Mapping this demographic proves to show the donut in the suburban sprawl outside city centers.
Why is it important for us to call out the green area for charging? This segment and tract area have a high likelihood and ability to charge at home, therefore reducing charging concerns.
If we remove garage availability, single-family and owner-occupied housing from the model, the “donut” completely closes. This reveals that urban centers with high population density, more MFUs, and fewer private garages would be undergoing higher EV growth if free charging were more available.
This methodology provides an estimate into how much EV demand is being suppressed because of inadequate charging access.
Don’t discredit renters in infrastructure planning. Renters often don’t have access to charging stations as it’s been up to landlords to prioritize charging as an amenity – the exception to this is high-end rentals. According to the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, 79% of renters say they are concerned about the environment, yet 40% of renters said there are not enough charging stations nearby to own an EV right now. Meaning, if more charging stations were available in dense rental areas, we would see an increase in EV purchases by renters.
Become an Essential Player in the EV Ecosphere
As of Q4 in 2022, states have begun to unlock more than $900 million – as part of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program – adding charging access to more than 53,000 highway miles across the country. The total federal program allows $5 billion in funding to provide a “convenient, reliable, and affordable electric vehicle (EV) charging network across the country.”
As for businesses, states are awarding grants to private, public and nonprofit entities to build, own, maintain and operate chargers. BlastPoint can help your business unlock these opportunities and expand EV adoption in your region. Here’s how our partners utilized data to expand EV programs in their regions:
Target Commercial Partnerships
ATCO, a large energy company operating in Alberta & northern Canada, wanted to get ahead of the EV adoption curve in the region by targeting commercial customers most likely to become partners in EV charging infrastructure expansion. With BlastPoint’s technology, they identified 220K potential partners for outreach. Download the case study here.
Grow EV Program Engagement
A Mid-Atlantic, investor-owned, electric utility used BlastPoint’s CI platform to amplify customer awareness of electric vehicle programs quickly. By targeting the right customers at the right time, the company increased enrollment in their EV rebate program by 55% and in their EV variable rate program by 98% after a single targeted campaign. Download the case study here.
With AI and machine learning tools in your pocket, you’ll have the power to predict EV growth opportunities, guide electric vehicle adoption in your region, and become an essential player in the EV Ecosphere.