There are growing pains, though, and the answer to growth in the industry isn’t necessarily new chargers or new EVs on the market, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, Boston. “There’s been a lot of money thrown at new chargers, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of interest necessarily in maintaining existing chargers,” he said. “After installation, there’s as much as 20% of the nation’s EV chargers that are out of service.”

In addition to having a third-party maintenance agreement, Global Partners also monitors its stations closely. Employees checking on the daily health of a charging station is critical to keeping the up time of that station going and preventing bigger maintenance issues, said Cater. For example, employees ensure plugs are secured in the dispenser when not in use, check for debris or clearing snow in the area and make sure screens are active.

“The difference between a remote DC fast station and a manned DC fast site is like night and day,” Cater said.

C-stores risk diluting their own brand if they don’t maintain their chargers, said De Haan. People will avoid a station if it has a bad history of operation.

“[Businesses] have to have not only an installation plan, but a maintenance plan as well,” he said.

The Biden Administration granted nearly $150 million to 24 recipients in 20 states to make existing EV charging infrastructure more reliable. The grants will be used to repair or replace nearly 4,500 existing EV charging ports, and in some cases, bring them up to code, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

“The Biden administration spending money on EV charging certainly could be a solution to get more of the existing chargers back in service,” De Haan said. Wallace adds, “I do think the NEVI [National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure] program and other public funding sources are going to further accelerate the build out of public charging infrastructure.”

But the federal approach to EV expansion could change.

“At present, and with it being an election year, energy policy and EV can shift dramatically and with it the economics of how best to proceed,” said Lonnie McQuirter, director of operations at 36 Lyn Refuel Station, an independent c-store in Minneapolis. “For existing owners and for some new entrants, the incentives are different. It’s a weird and interesting time to be in the space.”

Sheetz is actively pursuing federal funding for electric-vehicle chargers, like the NEVI program, which would subsidize the cost but also help bring costs down while expanding the chain’s network with rebuilds or new sites, said Renaud of Sheetz.

Sheetz has about 80 sites with Tesla chargers and 20-25 sites with Electrify America chargers in each of the six states it operates in—Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. The chain will likely be adding additional chargers once it enters the state of Michigan later this year, Renaud said.

Host partners are hesitant to share information specifically about individual customers, Renaud said, which is “one of the biggest issues with EV charging in our industry.”

“[Sheetz] knows what our loyal customers are doing, and [host partners] know what their customer base looks like, from a charging standpoint,” he said. “The connections between those kind of customer overlaps are not happening quite yet.”

As far as consumers’ EV interest, Wallace said that the negative headlines aren’t really showing the truth of what’s going on in the EV industry.

“Adoption of EVs is still trending upward. I think the difference in what’s happening versus what people had hope would happen is that certain manufacturers are maybe not hitting sales targets, but because that’s not necessarily because of a lack of interest but because there are so many more models to choose from.”