Fueling Stations: Electric Cars Trump All Other Alt-Fuel Types

Follow John

2011 Nissan Leaf at quick-charging station

2011 Nissan Leaf at quick-charging station

Enlarge Photo

Since about 1930, U.S. vehicles have largely been fueled on gasoline.

Diesel passenger vehicles arrived in the 1960s, and there are now about 120,000 locations in the U.S. that offer one or both fuels.

Since then, several alternative fuels have been proposed but largely failed to get a foothold--until electricity. (Semantically, it's not exactly a "fuel," but let that slide.)

According to the Department of Energy, there are now almost 10,000 public electric-car charging stations in the country, a total that has largely arisen in only three years.

As always, a few caveats are in order. It's worth noting that each charging cable is counted as a single station, versus a gas station that may have multiple fuel pumps.

Also remember that far more effective range per minute is delivered by a 5-minute stop at the gas pump than by even a half-hour charging session at a rare DC fast charger.

The far more common public 240-Volt Level 2 stations only deliver about 10 miles' worth of energy per hour to an electric car.

Home charging not included

On the other hand, that public charging-station number doesn't include the tens of thousands of private charging stations located inside electric-car owners' garages.

Polar Network Charging Stations

Polar Network Charging Stations

Enlarge Photo

And that can't be said of any other alternative fuel except for a tiny number of home natural-gas fueling stations, each of which requires an electric compressor to get the gas into the car's high-pressure storage tanks.

After electric charging stations, the most numerous alternative-fuel station types (in order) are propane, E85 ethanol, and compressed natural gas (CNG). Bringing up the rear are B20 biodiesel, hydrogen, and liquified natural gas (LNG).

You can see the full and most-up-to-date DoE table, broken down by state, here, along with an explanation of its methodology. Note that stations for some fuels--natural gas, for instance--are clustered in just a few states (as are charging stations at the moment).

Electric wins, hydrogen loses

InsideEVs.com, which reproduced the table, uses the data to crow about the number of electric-car charging points far outpacing hydrogen stations--of which there are just 56 at the moment.

Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle at Camp Pendleton hydrogen fueling station, photo by Joe Tash

Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle at Camp Pendleton hydrogen fueling station, photo by Joe Tash

Enlarge Photo

And that total may be falling. Several hydrogen fueling stations operated by Shell over the last few years have now been shut down, including those in White Plains, New York, and Culver City, California.

There are plans to open more hydrogen stations in the Los Angeles area, where Mercedes-Benz is testing a small fleet of B-Class F-Cell hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. 

Growing fast

But electric-car owners can take heart at the rapid growth of public charging infrastructure.

While charging station uptime varies among the confusing array of multiple networks with incompatible payment and membership systems, those stations are arriving at a far faster clip than stations for any other type of fuel.

Among other things, an electric-car charging station turns out to be far easier to permit and install--requiring less real estate and no volatile fuel storage tanks--than any other type of alt-fuel.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (4)
  1. There really are some significant differences between charging stations and gasoline fueling stations. EV charging stations are more like a parking space with an added service whereas gasoline pumps are more like the liquor store where you stop by briefly to pick up supplies.

  2. That Electric 10,000 stations number is misleading..

    Stations with Lever 2 EV chargers
    cannot be considered as
    alternative fueling stations but
    must be renamed to snail fueling stations!

    Waiting ~6 hours to charge your EV for ~80 miles
    is snail fueling, and cannot be in the same category as
    Autogas (Propane), Ethanol, Compressed Natural Gas,
    Biodiesel, Hydrogen, Liquefied Natural Gas.

    The alternative fueling stations above (except electric)
    are fast fueling stations and i doubt that
    it takes more than 20 minutes to fill a car at any of them.

    Therefore Lever 1 and 2 EV charging stations must be deleted from this list.

    The only EV charging stations that are in the same category of the fast alternative fueling stations above are the

  3. Level 3 DC fast charging stations.

    Only those are in the same category as
    fast alternative fueling stations
    because it takes around ~20 minutes
    to charge an EV at a DC fast charging station.

    Although right now there are around 39
    DC fast charging stations in the US
    according to Blink..


    (on top right of map click "Layers" and untick L2)

    ..Nissan is looking to sell as many as 2,000 DC fast charging stations within the next two years in the US, each costing $9,900 that can be easily installed and adopts the CHAdeMO protocol.

    And because Nissan DC fast chargers are so cheap we can expect faster depdeployment than other alternative fueling stations.


  4. The Spin Doctor is at it again. 'There are a few caveats, but let's not bother with those..."

    1. A charging station is equal to a gas pump, not the filling station. [ignore]

    2. Logistically you need more charging stations because charge time is minimum 3x - 4x the fill time of other fuels. [ignore]

    3. Shell H2 stations that were closed were TEST stations. What do you do when the test is over? [ignore]

    4. Public charging-station number doesn't include private charging stations... Well DUH!!! [Doh!]

    In conclusion, [Ignore]


Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.