Consumer Reports Finds Mere 1% of 270,000 Retail Outlets Offer EV Charging

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Consumer Reports Finds Mere 1% of 270,000 Retail Outlets Offer EV Charging

The lack of sufficient charging infrastructure is a well-known obstacle hindering the wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Despite the growing interest in EVs, the scarcity of charging options can deter potential buyers. A recent study by Consumer Reports suggests that retail locations could play a pivotal role in expanding charging infrastructure quickly. However, it’s noted that major retailers, including big box stores, supermarkets, and fast-food outlets, have yet to significantly embrace this opportunity.

Retail environments are seemingly perfect for hosting charging stations. Large parking areas at stores like Target, Wal-Mart, or McDonald’s, often with underutilized spaces, coupled with their strategic locations on major roads, near highways, and within communities, make them ideal candidates for EV charging stations. Not only would this convenience attract EV owners, but Consumer Reports also found that installing DC fast-charging stations at these retail sites can increase both the number of visitors and the revenue for the businesses.

Consumer Reports’ investigation reveals a significant gap in charging infrastructure within retail spaces. Despite surveying 75 different retail and fast-food chains, encompassing 270,000 locations, only 1% offered any form of EV charging. Although big box retailers like Target and Walmart are somewhat ahead in this aspect, the overall availability remains sparse. On average, there’s an EV charging station at only one in every 14 big box stores, one in every 15 grocery stores, and one in every 40 department stores, with IKEA being a notable exception, providing EV charging at almost all of its U.S. locations.

The comprehensive analysis by Consumer Reports delves into which retailers are contributing to the expansion of EV charging and explores their potential impact on the U.S. charging network. It also considers how these facilities could support EV awareness and adoption, highlighting that discount stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General could enhance access to charging in underserved areas. However, of the over 37,000 dollar and discount stores surveyed, only two offered EV charging.

The cost of installing a DC fast charger, which can exceed $200,000, is a considerable barrier, yet federal incentives and the potential for increased customer traffic to retail locations could help offset these expenses.

With the U.S. government estimating the need for at least 1.25 million chargers to satisfy demand, the current progress—having installed just over a tenth of this target—underscores the urgent need for expanded EV charging infrastructure to support the growing EV market.

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