Jan 25, 2023 - News

🔌 Columbus' electric vehicle charging gap

Illustration of an unequal sign with a lightning bolt through it on pavement

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public electric vehicle chargers are easier to find in whiter, wealthier neighborhoods, an analysis by the Axios What's Next team found.

Why it matters: Automakers and lawmakers are pushing electric vehicles (EVs) as a cleaner alternative to traditional cars.

  • But charging access is one of the biggest holdups preventing more car buyers from going electric — along with high prices.

By the numbers: In the Columbus area, majority-white tracts are 1.62 times more likely to have a charging station as majority-nonwhite tracts, according to an analysis of the 35 cities with the highest share of EV sales.

  • That's slightly higher than the national average of 1.4 times as likely.

Zoom in: Overall, there are nearly 400 EV charging stations here with unrestricted public access, per the data.

  • The highest concentration of EV charging stations is in downtown's 43215 ZIP code. There are also clusters in Dublin and New Albany and near Gahanna, the airport, Polaris Fashion Place and Easton Town Center.

Of note: Large swaths of Columbus' southern half below I-70 lack chargers, along with the Linden neighborhood.

What we're watching: The federal government is aiming to curtail these inequities under a program pumping $5 billion into a nationwide EV charging network, plus another $2.5 billion in grants for "community-based" charging infrastructure.

  • The Biden administration says 40% of the benefits of these investments are supposed to go to "disadvantaged communities" — providing jobs, cleaner air and, hopefully, more chargers.
  • Ohio also has $100 million available to expand its charging infrastructure over the next five years, with an initial focus on interstate corridors.

What's next: The Ohio Department of Transportation is reviewing proposals from companies, which were due last week, and expects to begin awarding funding in March or April, a spokesperson tells Axios.

Go deeper: EV chargers are easier to find in white, wealthy neighborhoods


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