Working Paper

Estimating electric vehicle charging infrastructure costs across major U.S. metropolitan areas

This paper analyzes the capital costs of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure needed for public, workplace, and home charging for the most populous 100 metropolitan areas in the United States from 2019 through 2025. The 100 metropolitan areas analyzed represent 88% of all new electric vehicles sold and 75% of the overall U.S. vehicle market.

The analysis revealed:

Substantial charging infrastructure investments are needed to fill the charging gap. Necessary investments in workplace, public Level 2, and DC fast charging infrastructure would increase from approximately $110 million in 2019 to $270 million in 2025, amounting to a total of about $940 million. In addition, home charging investments of $1.3 billion are needed, largely for the upgrades and installation of Level 2 charging in houses and apartment buildings. These charging infrastructure costs are approximately 25% for hardware, 50% for labor, 20% for materials, and 5% for permits. Investments are underway for substantial fractions of the necessary charging buildout.

Infrastructure costs are relatively modest—and steadily decrease—on a per-electric-vehicle basis. Costs for public charging infrastructure decrease substantially on a per-electric-vehicle basis. This is due to public chargers becoming more heavily utilized, the shift to more outlets per charging site, and decreased hardware costs as the market grows. The result is that the total public infrastructure costs per electric vehicle decline from $480 per electric vehicle in 2019 to $300 in 2025. Averaged over all electric vehicles, some of which need home charging upgrades, home infrastructure costs are around $510–$540 per electric vehicle sold.

Investing in home charging will remain important. More than half of electric vehicle owners are expected to continue using their existing home charging options without home upgrades. Around 38% of electric vehicle owners are expected to have upgrades to improve their home charging, with an average cost of $1,400 to install home outlets or chargers. However, this average include charging costs that are typically much higher in apartments. Incentives such as off-peak electricity rates and smart charging could remain important as the market expands to ensure more charging at apartment complexes and ensure home charging is mutually beneficial to drivers and utilities. Although many will utilize Level 1 charging with existing 120-volt outlets, higher power Level 2 charging at home will become increasingly important as battery size and vehicle range increase. 

Although state-level utility support is growing, city and state funding for charging is generally limited. Cost-sharing federal and local funding would help leverage limited funding to help fill the charging gap and allow local authorities to align the federal support with their own action plans. Federal grants, perhaps directed at cities that demonstrate high electric vehicle uptake, comprehensive electric vehicle action plans, and city policies could also be effective.