CLARKSBURG, WV (WBOY) – With gas prices reaching the highest ever in West Virginia, electric cars are sounding more and more appealing, but is owning one actually logical in our relatively rural state?
A recent study by Forbes Advisor said that West Virginia is one of the top five states with the most accessible electric car charging, but the study only bases the ranking on two factors and leaves out factors that seem pretty important if you’re deciding whether an electric car makes sense in the area.
According to the Forbes study, West Virginia is the fifth-best state for access to electric car charging. This ranking is based solely on the number of charging stations compared to the number of current electric cars in the state. The study determined that for every 6.38 electric cars in West Virginia, there is a charging location, which seems like a lot compared to New Jersey, where there is only one charging station for every 46 cars.
But, would you actually be able to travel in West Virginia efficiently using an electric car? According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, there are about 80 electric vehicle charging stations in West Virginia. By comparison, there are well over 100 in just the Pittsburgh metro and several hundred in Washington, D.C.
Most of West Virginia’s stations are along the Interstates, with clusters of several stations around Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg, Morgantown, Wheeling, and Martinsburg. The recent addition of electric car charging to nine State Parks in West Virginia has also increased the number of and accessibility to e-car charging. Traveling along main highways in West Virginia, the longest distance you would have to go between stations is from Parkersburg to Clarksburg on Route 50, which is just over 70 miles and about an hour and 15 minutes of driving time, or from Sutton to Ansted near Fayetteville, which is almost 60 miles and just over an hour of driving.
Getting to charging stations in the mountains near Randolph, Tucker, Pocahantas and Pendleton counties might be a little harder to get to because of windier roads. Going from the charging station at Blackwater Falls to the station at Snowshoe Mountain would take about two hours and over 90 miles of driving.
But these estimations don’t take into account whether charging stations have the correct connector for your car and whether they are accessible to the public. A lot of charging stations in West Virginia are private, like ones at car dealerships.
How often do eclectic cars need to be charged?
How far a car can go depends on the model. More expensive options like Telsa, Mercedes, Porche and BMW go over 300 miles on a single charge. More affordable e-cars like the Nissan Leaf get around 150 miles on a charge.
For everyday use and commutes, electric cars only need to be charged once every few days, and most people could add charging to their garages or home. For someone traveling or vacationing in West Virginia with an electric vehicle, you might have to plan your route around where you can stop to charge.
Why was West Virginia ranked so high by Forbes?
In California, there are 13,628 charging stations, but in the Forbes ranking, it was in the bottom five for charging accessibility simply because it has so many more electric cars than West Virginia. Similarly, New Jersey was ranked last because it has a lot of e-cars compared to not as many charging stations, 659. However, New Jersey is much smaller than West Virginia geographically, so the longest distance between charging stations in New Jersey is about an hour, which is actually closer than fifth-ranked West Virginia.
West Virginia’s high ranking by Forbes only says that West Virginia has good capability to handle the electric cars already in circulation. It does not have the capacity for most West Virginians to easily access stations or the ability to handle a full switch to electric in the state as recommended by a health study by the American Lung Association.
The state has both public and private charging places so air on the side of caution when heading to one of these places for a charge. Our Nexstar Sister Station, WBOY 12 News, visited the charging station at the Gillum House Bed and Breakfast in Shinnston and said they couldn’t even find the charging location.
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