Where to find electric vehicle charging stations -- with more to come in 2022

  • A Tesla is powered at a Rolling Meadows charging station operated by Tesla.

    A Tesla is powered at a Rolling Meadows charging station operated by Tesla. Daily Herald File Photo

  • Northwest Suburban High School District 214 officials stand by an electric vehicle charging stations at the Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights.

    Northwest Suburban High School District 214 officials stand by an electric vehicle charging stations at the Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 12/20/2021 9:35 AM

Is an electric vehicle on your wishlist for Santa? It's a fabulous gift. But unlike other battery-operated toys under the tree, recharging is more complex than just grabbing a new AA.

Fortunately, the stars are in alignment for rookie EV owners in 2022 with the federal and state government investing heavily in expanding what now is a limited number of charging stations.

 

"Everybody's going to see more stations," explained John Walton, Chicago Area Clean Cities chairman. However, "there's more than what most people realize."

The U.S. Department of Energy's charger locator listed 46,088 public charging stations nationwide as of Friday. Of those, nearly 90% are standard Level 2 units, which deliver a full charge in six to eight hours. The remainder are DC Fast chargers that can provide up to 80% power in about 30 minutes, Walton said.

Close to home, a quick check on Clean Cities' station locator shows chargers at diverse spots such as the Rolling Meadows courthouse, a Lisle Mobil station, College of Lake County, Delnor Hospital in Geneva, the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and the AMC Lake in the Hills 12 cinemas.

It's a little random. And it's definitely not enough, Walton noted.

"Sometimes it seems like there's no rhyme nor reason," he said.

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One reason public chargers are important is "most people that have an electric car want to charge at home, but if you're in a multiunit dwelling you've got limited capability," he said. In fact, "there might not be any ability" in some apartment or condominium complexes, Walton explained.

The Biden administration is promising a network of 500,000 charging stations across the U.S. as part of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Clean Cities recently was awarded a related federal grant to encourage charging stations in underserved communities and workplaces.

Meanwhile, the state of Illinois is expected to offer some significant incentives starting July 2022, such as $4,000 off the cost of an electric vehicle. A significant rebate for charging stations is also in the works.

The largesse is part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's plan to put 1 million EVs on state roads by 2030 -- an ambitious goal given there were just 33,342 in 2020. That's less than 1% of the 10,794,020 registered vehicles in 2020, according to state records.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

First-time EV shoppers should do some research first, Walton advised. That includes checking charging polices if you live in a condo or apartment.

If you're in a single-family home, typical outlets will take hours to recharge or might overload circuits, so experts recommend hiring an electrician to install a Level 2 outlet.

Another important consideration is how much you drive in a day and what range your EV will have.

"Get the questions answered before you buy a car," Walton said, adding Clean Cities offers webinars and online tips.

So far, it appears "2022 is going to be a big year for electric vehicle launches," Consumer Guide Automotive Publisher Tom Appel said.

"Up until now, most of the viable electric vehicles have been relatively expensive; the cheapest Tesla is still probably more expensive than the average new car," Appel added. "Next year, we are going to see a lot of electric vehicles that are very mainstream."

Those would include Toyota's bZ4X, "a compact crossover."

"I expect that to be fairly high volume," Appel said, "and there's a comparable vehicle by Subaru, the Solterra."

Neither manufacturer has listed a price, but both are estimated to come in under $40,000. Subaru and Toyota EV buyers also still qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

You should know

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has extended the expiration date for passenger car driver's licenses and state IDs through to March 31, but noted that it's the final one. White had allowed several prior extensions to reduce crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic at facilities. Officials added that multiple services can be performed online at ilsos.gov.

One more thing

The Chicago Transit Authority will hold a special edition run of the Allstate CTA Holiday Train featuring Santa Claus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday in the Loop. For info, go to transitchicago.com/holidayfleet.

Upcoming

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has extended the time for public comment on a controversial proposal by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to merge with the Kansas City Southern Railroad to Jan. 3. The issue has raised concerns from towns along the CP tracks including Schaumburg, Bensenville and Elgin.

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