"Often times, I hear people say, 'Well, when these EVs are as convenient as gas vehicles, there will be more of them,' " Smart said. "I reject that idea. We should strive for them to be better than the status quo, and it's possible to do that."
In terms of geography, he suggests the best places for public chargers are places where people will be parked for lengthy periods of time, such as grocery stores, churches and movie theaters.
Along those lines, charging provider Volta has focused on developing what it calls "commerce-centric" charging networks and has partnered with a smattering of department stores, retail outlets, medical centers and other businesses. In 2014, it partnered with retail giant Macy's to install about 100 charging stations in 40 locations.
Over six years, Volta's usage data showed a 41 percent increase in what the company calls "shop and charge" visits. That suggests EV drivers aren't only charging while they shop; they're increasing their shopping trips as a means to charge.
This April, Volta began an expansion of its Macy's partnership that will add 20 new locations. Volta also has partnerships with Kohl's, Topgolf and Giant Foods, among others.
When it comes to determining where it wants to develop its networks, Volta uses a proprietary software tool called PredictEV that uses machine learning. It's helpful not only for Volta but also for partners that may include local utility companies that need to plan for an increase in electric vehicles.
As the federal infrastructure proposal awaits consideration, the readiness of the grid is an important factor to consider in the broad rollout of EVs, says Jennifer Capasso, a Volta spokeswoman.
"Building infrastructure in the U.S. is a huge undertaking, and to build charging stations, that takes a long time," she said. "It takes a lot of money and years because of permitting, building out and working with power systems. We found, the more we can predict where demand is, and will be in five years, the more we can help municipalities and other partners."
Beyond location, Smart says charging technology should enhance drivers' ability to determine the best times to charge at the lowest rates, and should communicate with nearby chargers to determine whether they're occupied or available.