Inequitable access to EV charging infrastructure

This research was led by Yury Dvorkin, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and member of the C2SMART Tier 1 Transportation Center at NYU Tandon; and included Hafiz Anwar Ullah Khan and Sara Price, Ph.D. and M.S. candidates, respectively, under Dvorkin's guidance; and post-doctoral researcher Charalampos Avraam.

Electrified transportation is one of the critical aspects of the global trend towards decarbonization. However barriers to consumer adoption of EVs by the public exist. Principally, they are access to, and affordability of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. The latter concern is lessening as light-duty electric vehicle (EV) prices rapidly declining to as low as $18,875 after federal tax credits and state rebates and their ranges increase with battery and drivetrain improvements.

To address charging availability major efforts are underway in the United States to roll-out public EV charging infrastructure. But persistent social disparities in EV adoption call for interventions.

In a paper, the investigators led by Yury Dvorkin, analyzed existing EV charging infrastructure across New York City (NYC) to identify features that correlate with the current distribution of EV charging stations. They found that population density is not correlated with the density of EV chargers, hindering New York’s EV adoption and decarbonization goals.

To determine the socio-demographic and transportation factors affecting the distribution of EV charging stations in NYC, they used the publicly available Alternative Fuel Station Locator dataset from Alternative Fuel Data Centre at the US Department of Energy. This dataset provides a current accounting of the types and locations of all alternative fuel stations in NYC. 

Based on correlation analysis, hypothesis testing, and conditional analysis, the results demonstrate that the availability and affordability of EV charging stations in NYC are not determined by the population density, but are correlated with the median household income, percentage of White–identifying population, and presence of highways in a zip code, with the distribution of EV charging stations heavily skewed against low–income, Black–identifying, and disinvested neighborhoods in NYC.

The results underscore the need for policy frameworks that incorporate equity and justice in the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure.