By on March 17, 2011

Good news! Google Maps will now point you to the nearest “electric car charging station” if you search for same, reports CR.

[Google] is working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is developing a database of available charging stations (known as EVSEs, or electric vehicle supply equipment) around the United States. Installers of EVSEs have the option of having their stations displayed as public. When we were charging the Nissan Leaf at our facility, not a public venue, our chargers showed up on the Leaf’s navigation system; The navi in the Leaf is designed to remember sites at which it had been charged.

The bad news? Well, just look at that map. Unless you live in California, you don’t need Google to tell you where the nearest charging station is, you need a clairvoyant to tell you where one might someday be built. If you’re still struggling to understand why EVs need to be tested on a local level before the federal government spends more money subsidizing them on a national level, look no further.
[UPDATE: The screen grab above is not comprehensive. Surf over Google Maps for a closer look at EV charging stations in your area]

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28 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: The State Of The EV Infrastructure Edition...”

  • avatar

    When EVs have a 1500-mile range, that map won’t be a problem.

  • avatar

    I get the message – and I agree – but this map isn’t 100% accurate.  I know for 100% sure there is a public EV charging station in Vancouver, Washington – which isn’t indicated on this map. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

    Oh ya, go CNG!

  • avatar

    What is your problem with EV’s? I just don’t get it….

    • 0 avatar

      My problem with EVs, in a nutshell, is that everyone (particularly in the industry) still sees them as simply replacements for gas cars, as if the difference were simply that one uses electricity and the other uses gas. The truth is more complex than that. The fundamental challenge to the car industry as we know it is that electrical propulsion make cars themselves harder to differentiate. This, in turn, makes infrastructure and service the point at which value is added to the EV equation. The car industry is not built to deal with this reality, and the map above proves that someone will have to step up in this area if EVs are ever going to get off the ground.

    • 0 avatar

      Bottom line: if you want to travel outside of your batteries’ range, in most parts of the country, you can’t. Furthermore, even if you can, you need to have the time to stop for at least several hours every 60-120 miles to charge. I mean, if I were still under 40 I coiuld probably travel more quickly on a bicycle.
      And until that changes, EVs are going to be  a niche market.

    • 0 avatar

      So your problem with EV policy is that EV infrastructure is lagging?  Is there a concern that there will be EVs piled up in every city without access to charging?  I think most people can do the math to figure if their EV will get them from home, to work, to the grocery, and back home again without powering down.  Just as people now know to plug their phones in at night, so too they will do with a car.  I don’t see EVs as a replacement for all cars, just the ones that are used as an appliance in our daily lives.  Ideally they are part of a complex transportation infrastructure that includes trains, buses, bikes, and ol’ fashioned walking.

      I consider myself as much a car enthusiast as anyone, but my view is the days of big, heavy, inefficient, gas-guzzling cars and trucks are limited.  We are destined to drive smaller, lighter, cleaner, safer and less resource intensive forms of transport.  Colin Chapman famously said to ‘simplify and add lightness’ – which is still good advice for car manufacturers today.  In a world of clearly limited raw materials and fuel resources, there is simply no plausible reason for us to be driving our own individual school buses.

  • avatar

    If you zoom into the map, you will see charging stations as little dots, not as regular lettered map points.  The dots show that there is a charging station within about a mile of my house, and the next closest one is about 30 miles away.  So theoretically if I bought a Nissan Leaf I should be pretty well covered for charging stations during my hypothetical trip to Miami.
    Of course the time it takes to charge the car would still be an issue, but you can’t have everything; overall, at least in the South Florida area, the situation seems significantly better than I’d expected.

    • 0 avatar

      You speak the truth. I just looked at my town and there are a bunch that I didn’t know about.  In fact, there’s one about 500 feet from my office!
      Hopefully TTAC issues a correction post.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve updated the post to clarify that the map above is not comprehensive and that you may find more charging points by localizing your search. I think the main point of the post, namely that infrastructure is being underemphasized in the EV policy discussion, stands regardless.

    • 0 avatar

      I got a bunch of dots near my house, too, but based upon the search tags that CR says to enter, they’re nothing but a bunch of service garages, etc.  All it did was a Google search on those words, nothing more.  I’m not seeing it.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t agree MR. Niedermeyer. When I do the search with electric car charging station and no address zip code or city Google shows me my city and 267 places to charge.
      Either you don’t consider hundreds of charging stations per city adequate or you think some of these should be disallowed. Maybe we need to qualify what a “electric car charging station” is?

  • avatar

    Looks like a grand total of two charging stations in New England, one outside of Boston, and one 200 miles away in Burlington Vermont. Wanna go to Bar Harbor? Fuggedabouttit!

    • 0 avatar

      There used to be some charging stations at the Alewife T station years ago. I’m not sure if they’re still there. Watertown still has the overhead wires for the trackless trolleys. Too bad there isn’t a trolley-pole option for the Leaf!

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      I live in Montpelier VT and have thought hard about going to an EV for our second car. Consequently I know where the charging station is in Burlington. One problem, Whenever we go past it there is always an IC car parked in the space that has access to the charger.
      Chicken and egg. If I could afford an EV with a solid 80 mile range it could take over all the duties our second car has. I can afford about a 50 mile range which puts me just out of my winter jobs range and Burlington if I can’t at least top up the battery for a couple hours at the far end. So more charging opportunities means more EVs, means lower cost, means greater range, means less need for charging stations.

  • avatar

    The only charger I ever want to worry about finding is a Dodge Charger R/T.

  • avatar

    Huh. It’s my understanding that EV’s are best suited for trips to and from home rather than long highway journeys. I understand they have limited range. I understand this because I read this and other automotive websites. Am I wrong to assume that TTAC readers are well aware of the limitations of these vehicles ? Are these vehicles not a step forward for shorts trips? If a charging infrastructure exists at all it’s a bonus, if it expands even better. But it shouldn’t matter to those who use the vehicle for it’s intended purpose.
    Your point concerning the discussion of EV infrastructure may be correct, but your original post did not illustrate that point, and neither did anything you’ve said subsequently. I’m a long time reader and big fan of TTAC, but this is just… whew, pretty sad.
    Ed you’re flailing here, be a man about this and take your lumps.

    • 0 avatar

      I think part of the issue with EVs is that while reasonable people with insight into the reality of EVs can understand that they are *not* the same as any IC automobile, the majority of people don’t understand that.
      People see ‘Car’ and to them all cars are similar goods: they can go where and when they want with the only real differences between vehicles being the speed and carrying capacity.  EVs, while they look like a car, and feel like a car, simply cannot be treated in the same manner.  Yes, for a certain subset of trips, EVs are a fine replacement.  But for the remainder of the uses of a ‘car’, they are just not suitable.  And they will not be for the foreseeable future.  But the popular image of EVs does nothing to actually point this out.  Like Ed says, people tend to think of EVs as ‘cars’ that run on a battery rather than run on a volatile hydrocarbon liquid. And I agree with him that they will never be successful unless they break that paradigm and create a new one.

  • avatar

    It looks like a map of gas stations in 1898. That seems to be about right on schedule.

  • avatar

    I agree with the other posters that anyone buying an ev is well aware of their limitations (unlike say an SUV owner) – so what’s the problem?
    Also, since the cars can be plugged into any outlet; in a pinch you could plug in at a helpful stranger’s house.  Isn’t that what America is all about – caring for their fellow citizen…

  • avatar

    “I got a bunch of dots near my house”
    Don’t agitate them!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The more I read these discussions the more I realize just how brilliant the Volt is.

  • avatar

    According to what CR tells me to enter, there’s nothing in my State at all.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    Here’s a great article about what a joke the Volt is:

    • 0 avatar

      Is this Patrick Michaels guy serious?
      His last dozen or so articles for Forbes were about HDTVs and Blu Ray players. Now he’s reviewing the Volt? Or any car for that matter? Actually, he’s not reviewing the Volt, he’s bashing Obama and his new economic advisory pick, Jeffery Immelt of GE. He cites the price and the (apparently) exceedingly weak heater in concert with what appears to be a short driving range in winter weather. However, he offers no comparative pricing to anything else, except a gasoline Honda Accord (?), particularly no other electric car or car similar to the Volt, and no other electric vehicle’s winter ranges are compared. How far would a Leaf or a iMiev go in cold weather? We won’t find out from this posting. After a lot of complaining about Obama’s choice, he seems to long for the maiaise days of the late 70’s and plugs the remake of Atlas Shrugged.
      Again, why is this guy reviewing a car?

  • avatar

    I understand that the mayor of Port Orchard, Washington, has worked to set up such a charging station there. Perhaps one of the less than 1000 Nissan Leafs that will be sold in the US this year (at the current rate of sales) will need it.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    @ Mike Kelly. The only joke in that article is the yahoo that wrote it. What a piece of trash filled with inaccuracies. But hey, keep drinking the cool aid, seems you like the way it tastes.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    I can’t see EV’s catching on anytime soon.  Nobody who works for a living will pay the kind of money they are asking for a Volt, even with the massive federal subsidy on it.  I suppose the feds will prop up sales by buying tons of them for bureaucrats to putt around in, but I doubt the public will fall in love with cars that are too expensive, won’t go very far on battery power, and that either won’t keep you warm or run down fast trying to.  Like the Priuses before them, some Volts will of course be snapped up by pompous yuppies trying to out-do their snooty neighbors.

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