EV ‘charging deserts’ are growing in rural areas — study

By David Ferris | 07/01/2024 06:45 AM EDT

Researchers say public chargers are disappearing from some parts of the U.S., while the nationwide charging network falls short of reliability requirements.

A charger is plugged into the charging port of an electric vehicle.

An electric vehicle charger in Pennsylvania. Keith Srakocic/AP

Even as the Biden administration pours billions of dollars into building an electric vehicle charging network, public chargers are disappearing from some rural counties, according to a new study.

The study — led by Harvard University — found that 34 U.S. counties that used to have public charging stations no longer have any active ones, becoming “charging deserts.” Another 36 counties lost most of their stations.

That matters because potential EV drivers often question whether they will be able to easily find charging stations while on the road. Lack of confidence in the charging network is a leading reason that some EV drivers return to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, potentially undercutting the White House’s plan to slash planet-warming emissions by growing the country’s EV fleet.


Congress created a $5 billion fund in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law to build charging plazas at 50-mile intervals along major highways. But the growth of the U.S. charging network is “uneven,” said lead author Omar Asensio, a climate and energy policy professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who is on a fellowship at the Institute for Business in Global Society at Harvard University.