What are the most stressful cities in the U.S. to drive an electric vehicle? The Clunker Junker, a company where you can trade in junk cars, wanted to use a unique method of gauging the anxiety people feel about whether they can reach an EV charging station. They gathered geotagged tweets featuring words and phrases related to charging an EV in every U.S. state and the 50 most populous cities. Then, they used an academic stress detection tool called TensiStrength to identify which ones showed signs of range anxiety.
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What is EV range anxiety really about?
Stress about driving an EV has a lot to do with being able to charge reliably and quickly so you don’t run out of range. Utility companies are working hard to find ways to improve the grid so the U.S. is ready for the EV revolution. But, according to Clunker Junker, “Even if there’s an EVSE on your route, the time it takes to recharge remains inconvenient. It can be very tempting to risk running on empty to reach your destination on time.”
The U.S. has only 22,000 fast EV charging stations that can charge your EV in about 20 minutes (and 92,000 slow ones that take hours). Compare that to gas stations, which are on every highway exit and city block and can refuel a combustion engine car in minutes. We think it will be fixed soon as incentives and grants were just approved by the U.S. government to support companies that want to help build an EV charging network across the U.S. that is more robust than what we have now (think: EV chargers on every highway exit). But for now, there is reason for the anxiety.
How can you judge EV range anxiety?
There are many ways to judge range anxiety, some more scientific than others. For this brief snapshot of the situation, Clunker Junker pulled tweets with specific keywords: those include “plugshare, chargeway, Tesla supercharger, EV charger, EV charging, Tesla charger, Tesla charging, electric charging station and supercharger.” The team then pulled user locations and normalized location names using Google Geocoding API.
That means that some keywords were left out, but it should give a glimpse of how people are expression their emotions over EV charging as it relates to EV charging in general, including popular Tesla EVs and general charging infrastructure.
The most stressful cities in the U.S. for EV charging
Oakland, California tops the list with 32.6% stress rating, meaning that 32.6% of tweets about EV charging showed signs of anxiety. Is this because California is more conscious of EV charging issues? Because Oakland does not have enough chargers compared to the other side of the Bay in Silicon Valley? Clunker Junker says it’s because Oakland apartment owners don’t have outlets to charge their EVs outdoors.
However, Montana causes the most EV charging stress as a state, with 28.9% of tweets about EV charging showing signs of anxiety. And that’s no wonder. Montana only has one EV charger to every 1100 square miles.
Least stressful city in the U.S. for EV charging goes to…
Virginia Beach, VA has the least range anxiety (and 63 public charging stations), according to this study, with a stress rating of 20.3%. That’s still not great, and reflects that consumers buying EVs are still not taking charging infrastructure for granted.
Most people charge their EVs at home at night and only use electric cars for daily commutes, but with a big country out there and EVs capable of longer distances all the time, the EV charging revolution is in progress. Just not quite where it needs to be.
Also in the running
So who is up after Oakland, California as the most stressful city to charge an EV? El Paso, Texas, followed by Tucson, Arizona. Then came Seattle and San Antonio. This study reflects consumer sentiment, so that is not necessarily a direct picture of which cities actually have the worst EV charging infrastructure, just how concerning it is to people on social media.
Images via The Clunker Junker and Pexels