Hawaii EV ownership grew 26% last year, but lack of chargers holding back growth

According to new survey data from Ulupono Initiative, an investment firm focused on sustainability projects, Hawaii’s limited charging infrastructure is holding back the state’s transition from ICEs, despite an upward trend in EV ownership throughout Hawaii.

In the white paper “The Extra Mile: Why Electric Vehicles Make Sense for Hawaii’s Economy, Environment and Communities,” Ulupono Initiative says there are simply not enough public charging stations throughout the state to support the ever-growing number of EVs purchased by residents.

Surveyors also found that:

  • Resident Hawaii EV drivers are generally dissatisfied with the existing charging network in the islands. The most common criticism was limited access to charging stations throughout the state.
  • Sixty-eight percent of EV owners were receptive to paying a fee for charger usage. Acceptance of a usage fee tended to be even higher for EV owners on neighbor islands.
  • The state may be missing out on efficiencies among visitors, as a majority of Hawaii visitors surveyed (56%) stated they probably would have rented an EV if it were available.

According to the Hawaii State Department’s February 2019 Monthly Energy Trend Highlights report, there are 8,685 registered EVs in Hawaii, a 26.1% increase from the same month the previous year. However, EVs still only account for less than 1% of the 1,073,686 total registered passenger vehicles in the state.

The white paper notes, “It is critical that public- and private-sector stakeholders foster a supportive ecosystem for EVs by adopting progressive policy and ensuring that infrastructure, in the form of charging stations, keeps pace and precedes demand. Postponing investments in such infrastructure is unlikely to generate cost savings. Requiring new facilities to be EV-ready adds less than 1% to the cost of development, while installing EV infrastructure post-construction costs three times more. Upfront investments are cost-effective, smart and essential future-proofing.”

Source: Ulupono Initiative

  • Lance Pickup

    This is a complete mystery to me.

    First of all, on the two occasions I have visited Hawaii (3 different islands–I won’t count Oahu because I’ve never set foot outside of Honolulu airport), most of the houses I saw were single family homes, as opposed to apartment complexes. Granted, Honolulu make in fact be the major exception here. I imagine most of those houses have plugs, no?

    Second, the islands are really small. Even on the Big Island if you drive halfway around the island (something I imagine only tourists do with any regularity), it’s less than 100 miles. Driving to Hana on Maui is going to be less than 70 miles for most people, and going as far as you possibly can on Kauai is only about 60 miles.

    What kind of charging infrastructure do people think they need to support such short distances?

    And finally, when I look at plugshare, Hawaii already has a pretty dense charging station infrastructure, including many DC fast chargers.

    Is this all just a perception problem? Very strange.

    • terry

      Yes this article is pretty disapointing for not addressing these obvious questions. I lived in Hawaii for many years and was wondering these same things as I read this post. Somehow the logic here does not make sense Ryan.

      • Lance Pickup

        I was wondering if you meant to say the “referenced paper” instead of “this article” because the article is just reporting on the referenced paper. But then I read the referenced paper, and found that it is overwhelmingly positive on EVs. This article, in fact, focused on one single negative paragraph. So you are right…it’s the article that is disappointing! They even missed the fact that it says that Hawaii ranks second in the US in charge points per capita!

  • http://www.wififund.com EVman

    Yes, but in Florida it grew 18% and they took out and eliminated charging stations in malls (International mall at south parking structure), parks (Vinoy Park) and parking structures (Ybor). Very hard to find charging stations in Florida. Why are these places allowed to take out charging station and no incentive to add charging stations. Airport (TPA) is a problem as well.

    • Lance Pickup

      I’m always frustrated when I see pullback of charging stations. I think sometimes it’s because the host site probably wanted a LEED point, but didn’t want to maintain the charging stations and ultimately they got sick of the hassle of maintaining them. Sometimes it’s political: the state of NC removed charging stations from several rest areas on I-40, although I will see that L2 charging stations at a rest area makes almost no sense.

      That’s another point the referenced paper made: in Hawaii they actually have a law that states that for every 100 parking spots there must be one EV charging station (although they say it’s not enforced). This would certainly help get charging stations at malls, grocery stores, and airports.

      I would also really like to see charging stations at hotels. I’m hoping that the number of Model 3’s hitting the road (the first EV truly capable of long distance travel and present in large numbers) will show hotel owners that providing charging stations ends up being a competitive advantage. Once a few of them hop on that bandwagon, all of them will.