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Electric Vehicles and Chargers – the chicken or the egg?

Electric Vehicles and Chargers - the chicken or the egg?

Which do we need first, electric vehicles or electric vehicle chargers? Just like the age old question, which came first – the Chicken or the Egg? This riddle is perplexing, but apparently science has solved the question, in a way, I guess. Since “eggs” are just female sex cells, which evolved over a billion years ago, and chickens have only been around for about 10,000 years, the egg came first – by a longshot. But from a philosophical standpoint, was the first chicken egg birthed from a chicken, or a non-chicken?

Who cares? Well, as it would have it, the electric vehicle industry is grappling with it’s very own chicken or the egg problem. See, you need a lot of public chargers to accommodate people who don’t have a private space with electrical access (like a garage on a house or even a parking deck for an apartment building), but if they don’t buy an electric vehicle, there’s no need for all those chargers and they just sit there idle and break down over time

The answer, I believe, is put up the chargers, and people will buy the electric vehicles. The way the supply and demand for chargers is linked with electric vehicle adoption is very precarious, because if the pace of EV adoption slightly outpaces chargers being built, there will be a correction and demand for public chargers will be too high, and it will significantly suck people’s time waiting for a charger to become available. That, in turn, will likely reduce demand for electric vehicles, and ultimately correct itself, but it may not be a quick bounce back. Conversely, an abundance of public chargers will accelerate adoption of electric vehicles, and that in turn will reduce the price of EV’s through economies of scale for even quicker adoption. 

And with the quickening pace of climate change, solving the issue of pollution from gas powered cars (which makes up 29% of the yearly U.S. greenhouse gas emissions) is utterly essential. Apparently, it’s not so simple, because lithium mining and lithium-ion battery production are energy intensive processes themselves. So, now we have a much bigger chicken or the egg problem. Do we build electric vehicles first, or nuclear power plants? It’s got to be nuclear power plants, and the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have realized that and invested in TerraPower

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular as people look for cleaner, more efficient transportation options. However, one of the main barriers to widespread EV adoption is the availability of charging infrastructure.

What are Electric Vehicles?

Electric vehicles are vehicles that are powered by electricity rather than gasoline or diesel. There are two main types of electric vehicles: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs rely solely on their battery packs for power and have no backup gasoline engine, while PHEVs have both a battery pack and a gasoline engine to extend their range.

Electric vehicles have several advantages over traditional gasoline-powered cars, including lower operating costs, zero emissions, and a smoother, quieter driving experience. However, they do require access to charging infrastructure to keep their batteries charged and maintain their range.

What are Chargers?

Electric vehicle chargers are devices that provide electricity to charge the batteries of electric vehicles. There are several types of chargers, including Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 chargers.

Level 1 chargers are the slowest and can take up to 12 hours to fully charge an EV battery. They are typically used for home charging and are the most common type of charger.

Level 2 chargers are faster than Level 1 chargers and can fully charge an EV battery in 4-6 hours. They are commonly found at public charging stations and can also be installed in homes.

Level 3 chargers, also known as DC fast chargers, are the fastest type of charger and can charge an EV battery to 80% in just 30 minutes. They are typically found at public charging stations along highways and major roads.

Which Comes First: EVs or Chargers?

The question of whether electric vehicles or chargers should come first is a complex one, with many factors to consider. Let’s explore some of the arguments for both sides.

Arguments for EVs First

One argument for prioritizing the adoption of electric vehicles before building out charging infrastructure is that it will create a greater demand for charging infrastructure. As more people adopt electric vehicles, the need for charging infrastructure will naturally increase, creating more opportunities for businesses to invest in and build out charging networks.

Another argument is that electric vehicle manufacturers have already committed to producing more EVs in the coming years, regardless of whether or not there is sufficient charging infrastructure in place. Therefore, it makes sense to prioritize EV adoption and let the market forces dictate the pace of charging infrastructure development.

Additionally, some argue that focusing on building charging infrastructure first could lead to an oversupply of charging stations in areas where there are few or no EVs, which could be a waste of resources and money.

Arguments for Chargers First

On the other hand, there are several arguments for prioritizing the building of charging infrastructure before widespread electric vehicle adoption.

First, without sufficient charging infrastructure, potential EV buyers may be hesitant to make the switch to electric vehicles. The fear of being stranded with a dead battery or not having access to charging infrastructure when needed is a significant barrier to adoption. By building out charging infrastructure first, potential EV buyers will have more confidence in the availability of charging stations and be more likely to make the switch.

Another argument is that building charging infrastructure can help spur the growth of the electric vehicle market. When charging stations are readily available, people are more likely to consider an electric vehicle as a viable transportation option, which can help drive demand for EVs.

Finally, building charging infrastructure first can also help to address issues of equity and accessibility. In many cases, low-income and marginalized communities are the most in need of electric vehicles and the most impacted by air pollution. However, these communities often have limited access to charging infrastructure. By prioritizing the building of charging infrastructure in these communities, we can help to ensure that everyone has access to clean transportation options.


In the end, the question of which comes first, electric vehicles or chargers, is not a simple one to answer. Both sides have valid arguments, and the answer likely depends on the specific circumstances of each situation. However, what is clear is that we need both electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to achieve widespread adoption of clean transportation. By working to build out charging infrastructure while also promoting the adoption of electric vehicles, we can create a more sustainable transportation system that benefits us all.

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