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On a recent EV roadtrip I found myself at a Michigan EV fast charger station built by General Motors. The “Ultium” brand EV chargers were lined up at a truck station, under a big awning, just like gas pumps. So I plugged the car in. Then I spent 25 minutes breathing the fumes from the semi trucks idling on either side of me. Not the ideal location for my “green” roadtrip. Vermont, on the other other hand, has the right idea.

I was born in Vermont and am always thrilled to read about my home state. But in this case, Vermont is setting an example of just how good our EV charging network could be.

The “Green Mountain State” just opened its first EV fast charger station funded by the federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program. And the location couldn’t be better.

Ultium brand EV chargers at a truck stop.
Stuck at Michigan truck stop to charge | Henry Cesari via MotorBiscuit

The row of EV fast chargers are at a park on South Main Street in picturesque Bradford, Vermont. They are less than a mile from the Interstate 91 exit. They are also a few feet from several restaurants, and stores. If you’d like to walk farther, the town library and Main Street’s scenic bridge over the nearby waterfalls are all just a quarter mile away. This is how you place an EV fast charger!

Gas stations have certain location limitations. You need to bury huge fuel tanks beneath them. So it makes sense to have fewer stations, all supporting as many motorists as possible. With gas stops five or ten minutes, putting them as close to the interstate as possible is probably wise. But EV fast chargers open up new opportunities for roadtripping.

First of all, charging an EV requires you stay for a few minutes longer than fueling up. In a small car, you may be able to charge up in 20 or 30 minutes. In a huge SUV it will take longer. But EV drivers prefer a place where they can comfortably spend a bit of time.

Restaurants and stores on a Vermont town's main street.
Walking downtown Bradford, Vermont | Jscarreiro via Wikimedia Commons

Secondly, EV chargers are cheaper to install than gas pumps. You can spread them out throughout a town. You could have several in the walkable business district, more at scenic parks, and even local restaurants or gyms could offer charging. You don’t need billboards, drivers use apps to find chargers anyway.

Places such as Vermont could see an economic bump as road trippers stop in small towns to charge and spend some money in local businesses. At the same time, EV drivers can elevate their roadtrip experience by skipping the rest stops and spending their time in beautiful remote locations or at charming small businesses. But this future will require we break out of the “business as usual” mold and think beyond gas stations and rest stops while installing our EV fast chargers.

Next, read about Vermont’s most scenic antique car show, or see Vermont open its first NEVI chargers in the video below: