Ky. hopes to lead on electric vehicles. It’s one of the worst states for driving one.

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·3 min read

The news Wednesday that Bowling Green will get a new $2 billion, 2,000-job plant for making electric vehicle batteries is the latest of several big project announcements poised to make Kentucky a manufacturing leader in the industry.

Still, enthusiasts say the state has too few charging stations and the purchase cost for consumers is still hefty given that Kentucky offers no incentives for buying an electric vehicle or hybrid.

Here’s what to know about the state of the electric vehicle market in Kentucky:

How many electric vehicles are on the road in Kentucky? How many charging stations are there?

There are currently less than 3,700 fully electric vehicles on the roads in Kentucky.

That’s according to Stuart Ungar, co-founder of the electric vehicle enthusiast group Evolve KY, which seeks to “move our current boring state of driving forward — and fast” by increasing the number and variety of charging options in the region.

To that point, Kentucky ranks among the bottom five worst states in the nation for electric vehicle infrastructure, according to a Bumper.com analysis last year.

Grading states by the number of charging stations per 100,000 residents, the bottom five states were Louisiana (1.9), Mississippi (2.3), Kentucky (2.7), Alabama (2.9) and Indiana (3.1).

According to the Liberty Plugins, a company headquartered in southern California that works with charging infrastructure, there are 161 charging stations throughout Kentucky.

The U.S. Department of Energy maintains a map of charging stations across the U.S. and Canada – with nearly 45,000 here in the states.

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How far can you go between charges with an electric vehicle?

Most early electric vehicles (in the era between 2011 and 2016) were only capable of about 100 miles of driving before they needed to be recharged, according to the University of California-Davis Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center.

Current electric vehicles can travel about 250 miles on a single charge, and there are some – like Teslas – that can go even further, about 350 miles. Many automakers have promised electric vehicles with even longer ranges and faster charging.

What’s the going rate for an electric vehicle and does Kentucky offer any tax credits?

No. Kentucky does not offer any incentives for purchasing an electric vehicle.

As of August 2021, Kentucky was one of just 10 states to not offer any incentives whatsoever for owning an electric vehicle or hybrid, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The average cost of an electric vehicle is $56,437, around $5,000 more than the average price of an entry-level, luxury, gas-powered vehicle, according to Kelley Blue Book. That number represents a sticker price and does not include any consumer incentives that are available, according to KBB.

While the purchasing cost is higher for electric vehicles, you also have to take into account the savings on fuel and maintenance, which vehicle association AAA did with an analysis.

According to AAA, owning a new, compact electric vehicle was only slightly more expensive – about $600 annually - than its gas-powered counterpart. Although the overall costs are more, electric vehicles are lower in individual categories such as fuel and maintenance.