I recently had the pleasure of talking to fellow EV Advocate and colleague Rap Hankins to discuss the challenges that come with EV accessibility in underserved communities.

Rap sheds some light during our conversation on where the EV community can improve to help continue moving the needle.

Here is what he had to say:

Q. What kind of car do you drive?
A. A 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 ProS.

Q. Where do you charge your car most of the time?
A. A ClipperCreek Level 2 charger (model HCS 50P) and charge at home (our most frequent use of charging).

Q. How were you first exposed to Electric Vehicles?
A. On May 29, 2019, the city of Trotwood was hit by two F5 tornadoes, doing extensive damage to our community; my block and home were affected. We purchased a gas generator to get us through the disaster/clean-up and were surprised by the fumes and noise the generator produced. I thought there must be a more intelligent way to provide a backup solution and started looking at battery backup generators as a choice. This rekindled a desire to experience hybrids or an all-electric vehicle. Several years ago, I asked Volkswagen if they would send me an e-Golf. They refused because those cars were only available in California, New Jersey, and Florida. After the tornado, I attended my first Ride and Drive offered by Drive Electric Dayton (the organization I am now President of) and thought it was time for me to purchase a Volkswagen ID.4 ProS. Before doing so, I opened the PlugShare app and found that in a city of 24,000 people, with 30 square miles, there was not one EV charger in our entire community. As a result of this, I began to plan the first Ride and Drive ever held in the city of Trotwood. The rest is history. I love EVs and understand the need for a strong, reliable, and inexpensive electric charging infrastructure throughout the nation, benefitting underserved communities, creating jobs, and raising the living standards of all our citizens.

Q. What barriers exist in communities of concern to ownership of an EV?
A. The belief that EVs are accessible only to rich, white men, and that citizens in underserved communities will never be able to afford them.

The reality that most EVs are too expensive.

In many underserved communities, adequate EV charging infrastructure is not available. And if it is, it’s often old technology that is difficult to use, can be broken, or, in a state of disrepair for a long period of time.

Q. What challenges do you see with rolling out chargers in low-income neighborhoods?
A. The number one challenge is the cost of installation. When a business or individual is interested in providing much-needed infrastructure in an underserved community, the thousands that may be required can be overwhelming or off-putting.

Q. What do you think people need to understand about the limitations of current funding programs?
A. The biggest limitation is they require hardware that needs to be smart chargers or chargers at the very least need to be able to be connected to the internet. These requirements make it difficult to start the infrastructure that is sorely needed by apartment owners and citizens who cannot afford chargers at their homes. I would like to see more flexibility in future programs that encourage low-cost chargers to be installed initially at little to no cost to the user. As the market matures, we can add more stringent requirements that allow local and national government to understand the usage of such chargers.

Q. What is the best charging network in your opinion, and which is the worst?
A. I own an ID.4, so my favorite network is subjective. I use Electrify America. The worst network, in my opinion, at this time, is ChargePoint based on their monthly charging fees. They charge to local government or individual businesses which often limits the ability to offer free or low-cost charging in communities where it is needed.

Lastly, Kitty — thanks for everything that you do. We are a family. The work we all do benefits the people and organizations that need us the most. My best to you.


Did you know Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Projects 26.4 Million Electric Vehicles Will Be on U.S. Roads in 2030?

We’re making strides in the EV community! It’s up to us to break barriers and overcome the challenges that come with EV access. We’re grateful to all those who’ve supported our mission throughout the years. Together, we are working toward making EV chargers readily available to everyone across the US.