Retailers need to improve EV charging situation, says Consumer Reports

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The EV charging experience in the U.S. ranges from decent to infuriating, but it’s at its absolute worst when there’s simply no charger available. Retailers, hotels, and other businesses are slowly figuring this out, and many are beginning to offer chargers at locations across the country. Consumer Reports’ new study looked at the availability of chargers and commitments made by the 75 largest national and regional retailers in the country, and the findings show that while some are coming around, there’s plenty of room for growth.

Only one percent of the 270,000 store locations CR analyzed offered EV chargers, equating to one out of every 14 big-box stores, one out of every 15 grocery stores, and one out of 40 department stores. CR said that those numbers show that there is no retail chain in the country where an EV owner can reliably find charging options.

IKEA leads the way for big-box retailers, offering charging at more almost all of its locations. Among grocery stores, Amazon, Big Y, Hy-Vee, Meijer, and Raley’s offer charging at more than ten percent of their locations, while Trader Joe’s and Aldi only have ten locations with chargers combined.

The ranking for big-box stores’ EV chargers includes:

  • BJ’s: Less than 1% – 240 stores with chargers
  • Costco: 1-10% – 600 stores with chargers
  • Target: 1-10% – 1,960 stores with chargers
  • Walmart/Sam’s Club: 1-10% – 5,200 stores with chargers
  • Ikea: Almost 100% – 50 stores with chargers

Kohl’s is top among department stores, while Walgreens is working to install chargers at hundreds of stores. Discount stores like Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Five Below have made no investments in charging, and CR noted that no leading fast food company offered charging at more than one percent of stores.

Beyond the convenience for EV owners, chargers can be a boon for businesses looking to increase foot traffic and revenue. CR found that chargers boosted foot traffic by an average of four percent and revenue by five percent and noted that most retailers can take advantage of federal tax benefits to absorb up to $100,000 or 30 percent of the installation costs.

CR’s sustainability campaign manager said, “ Installing EV chargers can help retailers meet a triple bottom line – helping people, the planet, and profits.” As part of its findings report, CR called on current and future EV owners to join it in calling on more retailers to install charging, saying that they can be a significant resource to communities without extensive EV infrastructure.

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