The Tennessee auto industry is racing toward a mainly electric future, with automakers beefing up EV manufacturing at locations like GM’s Spring Hill battery facility and Nissan’s LEAF assembly lines in Smyrna. The increase coincides with President Joe Biden’s stated national goals, including having half of all automobiles sold in the U.S. be electric by the year 2030.
Beyond creating more Electric vehicle factories or manufacturing more cars, and infrastructure barriers stand in the way of that goal: Tennesseans need adequate EV charging points to keep their vehicles running.
“Having electric car charging stations in residences, retail sites, commercial enterprises, and parking garages (is) also a key element of electric vehicle adoption,” Cortney Piper, who works at the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council as an executive director and vice president, said.
Tennessee’s EV charging network is being extensively bolstered by agencies ranging from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to the federal government, hoping that more chargers will lead to more electric vehicles in Tennessee garages.
According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center of the US Department of Energy, Tennessee has 1,380 individual electric vehicle charging connections at 603 public charging stations. Tennessee ranks 27th among the United States and Washington, D.C. in a number of charging stations per capita, with 8.7 public charging ports for every 100,000 inhabitants.
Many electric cars are charged at home, but having a conveniently available public charging network is critical for reducing “range anxiety,” or the worry of running out of energy in the middle of a trip. Range anxiety was the top consumer issue for Americans buying an electric car, according to the 2019 American Automobile Association survey, with 58 percent concerned that there will be insufficient charging stations and 57 percent concerned that they will run out of energy while driving.
According to the report, only 5% of electric car owners have ever run out of battery on a trip.
Electric vehicles employ three different types of chargers, each with its price and charging speed. Individual machines in the same category use different power levels, so charging times can change from station to station.
• Level 1 chargers cost between $300 – $1,500 to install and can provide 4-6 miles of electricity per hour of charging. According to the Tennessee Department of Energy, there are just ten publicly accessible Level 1 chargers.
• Level 2 chargers cost between $400 – $6,500 to install and can provide 10-60 miles of power for every hour of charging. In-home Level 2 chargers are common and are frequently used to charge an automobile overnight completely. In Tennessee, 1,158 Level 2 units are open to the public.
• DC fast (level 3) chargers cost between $10,000 – $40,000 to install and can provide 72-270 miles of electricity each hour of charging. In the United States, most proposals for additional charging infrastructure prioritize the deployment of DC fast charging points. Tennessee has 212 DC fast-charging stations that are open to the public.