Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the driving range that today's "fast" charging stations, with rates of 50 or 60 kilowatts, provide EVs; as well as the range a Level 2 public or home charger might offer for newer EV models.
A reliable public charging infrastructure will be key to fostering the growth of electric vehicles — even if those chargers don't get used much.
The U.S. Alternative Fuels Data Center's most recent numbers show 16,457 EV charging stations, with 44,999 outlets in operation, mostly on the coasts, but also including Tesla's network of Superchargers along major intercity corridors and other superfast charging stations.
The presence and visibility of these stations should help build confidence among consumers thinking about buying battery EVs that they will be able to charge wherever they want.
But once people live with an EV, they often realize they don't need access to public chargers as much as they once needed public gasoline stations, or require the same kind of quick fill-up.
After all, millions of Americans have some basic form of charging infrastructure in their homes. They plug in overnight, just as they do with their smartphones, and top up at other times when they're home or out running errands.