Tracking the rise in electric vehicles on the road


(NewsNation) — While less than 1% of the 250 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. are electric, that number is quickly growing. Electric car sales more than doubled worldwide from 2020 to 2021, but the biggest question remains: How long can you drive before you need a charge?

NewsNation’s Kelsey Kernstine took a cross-country road trip from New York to L.A. in an electric vehicle — a car distance of about 2,800 miles, timing more than 40 hours on the road.

Kernstine made at least 13 stops because most EVs can only go around 230 miles on a full charge. Some may say it’s a headache, but she was able to save about $500 on gas.

For timing, Kernstine was able to find super fast chargers on most of her highway stops; they can replenish 80% of the battery in under an hour. However, finding those chargers added a little more than 100 miles, making a bit of a downside.

The U.S. has about 47,000 charging stations, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That may seem like a lot, but there are some gaps compared to the 145,000 gas stations around the country.

This becomes a major issue in places with so-called “dead zones.” Wyoming has only 58 charging stations and Montana has 80. Meanwhile, California has about 13,000 and New York has 2,600. This can put restrictions on drivers. If you want to take your electric car on a cross-country road trip, you could run into major issues charging your ride in the Plains areas, potentially leaving you stranded.

So, how long did the trip take? A gas-powered trip would’ve taken more than 40 hours; driving the extra distance to the chargers added two and a half hours.

“Electric vehicles are going to completely take over transportation; they’ll be the majority of the vehicles out there in less than five years,” said Buzz Smith, a self-proclaimed EV-angelist.

He said he’s hopeful for the future of EVs, but acknowledges they frequently get a bad reputation.

“The biggest is misinformation and misunderstanding the vehicles,” Smith said.

Some consumers say they’re too expensive or even cause more pollution from the electricity use.

According to a recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the average EV produces significantly less global warming pollution than even the most efficient gas-powered car.

In February, the Biden administration rolled out a plan to allocate $5 billion to fund more electric vehicle chargers over the next five years, pledging to build 500,000 charging stations throughout the country by 2030. But for now, Smith says the challenge lies in educating future EV car owners.

“What you do is you go into social media, you just do a search on the type of vehicle that you’re thinking about getting, and you’ll find an owner’s group for that vehicle and go in there and talk to those people,” Smith sais.

The Ford F-150 Lightning, the first electric truck that shipped out Tuesday, is the automotive industry’s tipping point. Many people have waited for this all-electric version of the iconic pickup truck since it was first announced last year, and as of Monday, the 2022 model was sold out.

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