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Electric Vehicle Charging Station Usage Revealed Through Location Data

As gas prices increase, so does the widespread popularity and acceptance of electric vehicles (EV).

As a result, large auto manufacturers like Ford and GM are racing to release new models and potentially bring some competition Tesla's way. With this rapid adoption of EVs, our current charging station infrastructure in the U.S. and abroad demands attention. As more and more consumers hit the road with electric power, it's vital they can access charging points beyond their home location.

Drivers utilize charge points throughout the day and for a variety of reasons. Charging stations are needed for shoppers, commuters, workers, and EV renters alike (growing rental market for EVs will require charger access close to customer lodgings). The development of these charge point locations involve not only charger manufacturers and operators, but also real estate developers, retail owners, and transportation bureaus, all seeking insight into how charging infrastructure can improve communities, draw new consumer segments, and make money.

Companies like ChargePoint, Blink Charging, and EV Connect are literal powerhouses in the EV market. ChargePoint operates the largest share of charging stations across the U.S., with Blink Charging not far behind. It seems charging stations appear faster than government statistics can keep up with them, but an early 2021 Department of Energy figure counted over 41,000 charge points across the country - a figure that's likely much higher in 2022.

Where does location data fit in?

Aggregated location insights combine data observed across hundreds of millions of mobile phone devices and scales to points of interest as granular as a single charge point in a shopping center parking lot. This data offers: 

+ Total charging station usage back to 2019
+ Distance traveled to a charge point
+ Privacy-forward home and work origin points for charge point users
+ Dwell time indicators
+ Hours of use
+ Neighborhood-level insights for total foot traffic and migration

Our data examination included three charging point locations across the U.S.. We generated location insights through our custom point of interest (POI) tool with a focus on home origin locations for station users, distance traveled, and monthly visitation metrics.

ChargePoint, Los Altos, CA: Adjacent to an outdoor shopping market and office district directly in downtown Los Altos. Residential neighborhoods surround every side.

EV Connect, Tarrytown, NY: Adjacent to a train station with express routes to Grand Central Terminal in New York City. New condominium construction is taking place in the vicinity along with existing condominium complexes.

Blink Charging, Grayson, GA: Adjacent to a neighborhood shopping center with one anchor grocery store tenant. The location is heavily residential beyond the shopping center boundaries.

Visitor Origin

ChargePoint, Los Altos, CA
National view of home origin locations for ChargePoint station in Los Altos, CA. Charge point indicated by green diamond. Color scale charts visitor counts from low (yellow) to high (purple).

Local view of home origin locations for ChargePoint station in Los Altos, CA. Charge point indicated by green diamond. Color scale charts visitor counts from low (yellow) to high (purple).

The ChargePoint location draws heavy local traffic, with only a few outliers coming from out of state. Heavier traffic coming from the Fremont area, where a Google Map search shows plenty of charging stations, indicates a likely commuter use case for this charge point.

This data can also show us where there are likely to be greater levels of EV owners - an important factor for future site selection, acquisition marketing, and utilization modeling.

EV Connect, Tarrytown, NY
National view of home origin locations for EV Connect station in Tarrytown, NY. Charge point indicated by green diamond. Color scale charts visitor counts from low (yellow) to high (purple).

Local view of home origin locations for EV Connect station in Tarrytown, NY. Charge point indicated by green diamond. Color scale charts visitor counts from low (yellow) to high (purple).

The Tarrytown EV Connect charger attracts a wider range of visitors compared to the ChargePoint location. Along with the majority of upstate New York origin locations, the data also shows a significant amount of traffic coming from San Francisco and Washington D.C.. This location is a major entry point via rail into New York City, which implies the highest concentration of users rented or drove their electric vehicles to the train station before commuting into Manhattan. 

The local map shows a distance range of use across multiple counties, from downtown New York City and up to Rockland and Orange Counties. It's clear the train station serves as a key draw for EV users, likely individuals driving to the Metro North line for visits into and out of New York City.

The origin point of users so far up north may also be a result of pandemic sprawl. Are these users representing a sector of individuals who left the city mid-pandemic, rented or purchased real estate in more affordable northern New York state, and now own EVs in order to make trips back to the larger metro area? Possibly.

Blink Charging, Grayson, GA
National view of home origin locations for Blink Charging station in Grayson, GA. Charge point indicated by green diamond. Color scale charts visitor counts from low (yellow) to high (purple).

Local view of home origin locations for Blink Charging station in Grayson, GA. Charge point indicated by green diamond. Color scale charts visitor counts from low (yellow) to high (purple).

The Blink Charging location draws an incredibly distributed national population. Grayson, GA resides in Gwinnett County, which makes up part of the greater Atlanta metro area. This station in particular is located within a small, regional shopping center surrounded by residential housing. It suggests users in the area may rely heavily on this public charge point while running errands or during work hours. The scope of national visitation is also intriguing.

Are there reasons EV users are drawn to the Atlanta region? 

The City of Atlanta passed an ordinance in 2017 to mandate EV accommodation for all new multifamily and commercial properties. A popular Atlanta company also offers EV tours of the area, suggesting Atlanta very much has an EV-forward approach. For Grayson, however, a Google Maps search shows few charging points in the area. The heavy local and national usage seen here is likely indicative of user need as they drive and rent EVs in Atlanta. Establishing a wider network of charge ports outside of the downtown Atlanta city center should be a priority for operators going forward.


Distance Traveled

Travel distance bins for three charging station operators, scaled by color and proportion of visitors.

Using location data, we can also assess the distance traveled by the majority of station users. Populations visiting from distances of over 50 kilometers implies EV users coming from potentially underserved areas, as well as commuter populations that may need additional access to charge points near their work locations.

ChargePoint and Blink Charging, both located near retail locations, draw a majority of local traffic not exceeding 5 kilometers. We can presume station users live within the immediate area and utilize these charging points during shopping trips and working hours. We saw that Blink Charging also drew a large national population, but examining distance traveled shows this is not as significant of a user population compared to local traffic.

The EV Connect station shows the opposite trend. The highest proportion of its users come from over 50 kilometers away. As seen in the map of home origin locations, there is a wide distribution of users coming from the north and south to access this station. Gravitation toward rail-adjacent charge points may be a key insight for future infrastructure expansion.


Monthly Visitation

Monthly usage levels scaled by color for three charging station operators, 2021-2022.

We examined the past year of activity for the three stations in our data set. All three saw sinking visitation starting in October 2021 and into 2022. This coincides with the onset of the winter season and the Omicron variant of COVID-19. January 2021 traffic was at an average level for the three stations, however, suggesting Omicron may have impacted overall travel, tourism, and commuting in 2022 rather than seasonal factors.

The ChargePoint station saw the highest level of visitation overall in March 2021. Blink Charging and EV Connect shared peak visitation in May 2021, and ChargePoint and EV Connect were generally popular during the summer season. Most interesting here is that visitation waxed and waned for all three stations.

The pandemic makes it difficult to predict commuting patterns and shopping routines due to the ever-changing nature of restrictions and health risks, so having a way to monitor and stay ahead of these trends is vital.

There are very likely habitual local users accessing these charge points, but total traffic appears to increase and decrease depending on the season, overall tourism, and returning workers. The ability to access historical data for these locations will be an essential part of making holistic assessments for future site selection, and in evaluating the success of current locations.

While this piece focuses on existing stations, location data is also used to examine visitation across census block groups and the larger neighborhoods those groups make up. Our custom POI tool allows assessment of thousands of locations - whether they currently host charge points or appear to be candidates for future installation. A combination of neighborhood mobility insights and custom POIs will undoubtedly play a role in expanding and strengthening charging infrastructure in the U.S. and beyond.

Check out our blog, schedule a meeting, or talktous@unacast.com with any questions, comments, or to learn more about our many location data products. Interested in Tesla performance? Check out our webinar and insights piece to review traffic, origin locations, and a competitive analysis of auto manufacturers and auto accessories brands.


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