According to U.S. Census data, homes in cities are less likely to have on-street parking than homes in rural or suburban areas, with 78 percent of U.S. residents owning a garage or carport, compared with just 37 percent of rental homes. “Living in urban areas People in the U.S. will definitely feel the burden more because in the U.S., private garages with electricity are nearly ubiquitous outside of densely populated urban centers,” Hall said. “Street parking is common, even in American cities, but these spaces are often found in shared garages that may not have electricity.”
In short, the cities with the greatest demand for EVs are the most hostile to EVs, and those low-income residents who gain the most financial benefit by forgoing gasoline may end up paying a premium. Installing a large number of charging points across a city—streets, residential parking lots, retail spaces, and offices—can solve the first challenge, but ensuring fairness in EV charging is a harder problem.
Meanwhile, city dwellers with lower incomes are either paying more for electric vehicles or not driving at all. “Each of these options exacerbates economic inequality and may also lead to widespread perceptions of electric vehicles as a technology that serves the wealthy rather than the wider society, hindering efforts to accelerate adoption,” Hall said.
To help close the gap, utilities could be regulated or induced to lower electric vehicle bills. The UK should reconsider value-added tax (VAT), as the value-added tax (VAT) is 5% on electricity used in households and 20% on electricity sold at charging stations.
There are other solutions. Bonsu is calling for faster chargers to be installed in communities, not just gas stations, while Hall suggests EV chargers are needed in all new construction or buildings undergoing major renovations, whether it’s shops, homes or office buildings. Hall cautioned against assuming that only white-collar workers need chargers, and that chargers should be installed in industrial parks, retail stores and other places where people work. “While this will take a while to have an impact, it helps ensure that once EVs become a major part of the fleet, more drivers will have access to affordable, convenient charging,” Hall said.
But the problem is not just the availability of infrastructure – the charging network is too complex, adding an additional burden beyond the financial. There are dozens of providers, each with their own payment apps, subscription systems and prices, not to mention connection fees and other added costs and different chargers. Patrick Reich, CEO and co-founder of the charging aggregation and payment app Bonnet, said: “The user experience of using a public charger is day and night compared to a home charger.”
Another complaint was reliability: Drivers showed up at charging stations to find they were in use, out of service, or incompatible with their cars. Melanie Shufflebotham, COO and co-founder of Zap-Map, said: “People don’t worry so much about range anymore, but they do have charger anxiety — when they come to charge, they want to be sure it’s working and ready to use. “