Owning an EV in Hawaii: Charging Cost, Incentives, and More

A rocky shoreline in Hawaii

Owning an EV in Hawaii: Charging Cost, Incentives, and More

Hawaii has been quick to embrace EVs. Sales of electric vehicles in the state have steadily grown over the last few years, and the infrastructure to support those has been a little slower. EVs have been a steadily growing automobile market segment since the introduction of the first viable models some years ago. A multitude of factors exists for potential customers, however.

What is the actual cost of owning an electric vehicle in Hawaii? The state has many electric charging stations, but there are other caveats to owning an EV for local residents. Let’s take a look at the charging infrastructure, incentives, additional expenses, and charging costs for Hawaiian EV owners.

Charging Infrastructure for EVs in Hawaii

The amount of public and private chargers in Hawaii has been steadily growing. Currently around 751 charging stations are present in the state, with most centered around the island of Oahu. There are of course certain challenges for developers looking to establish their own charging networks in the state. Hawaii is an archipelago, disconnected from the mainland, and as such, the cost of materials and shipping is just as vital as local support.

There are 751 total charging ports in the state itself, with the city of Honolulu having the largest concentration of stations. The stations in Honolulu are predominantly Level 2 chargers accounting for 280 out of 286 total stations. Level 3 and DCFC stations are more uncommon for the state. There have been inroads made by the state’s Department of Transport to add more stations in other localities.

EVs vastly outnumber the number of available chargers that aren’t in residents’ homes. The ratio of ownership to available chargers is 25:1, which bodes well for developing the state’s support infrastructure.

The Cost of Charging an EV in Hawaii

Hawaii is the most expensive state for charging an EV. When accounting for the average price of electricity it is even more expensive than in states like California and New York.

To charge a Tesla Model 3, owners would be looking at around $17 or so. This is almost twice the price of the nationwide average, but still affordable compared to a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. The Model 3 is one of the most popular EVs, but the battery capacity isn’t the absolute highest on the market.

toyota bZ3 vs Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 will cost around $17 to charge in Hawaii.

©Grzegorz Czapski/Shutterstock.com

Volvo’s popular XC40 costs about $22 to charge, yet again doubling the overall average cost across the country. The XC40 has a larger battery overall, and that’s reflected in the expense associated with charging it.

In Hawaii, Volvo XC40 owners should expect to pay about $22 per full charge.

©North Monaco/Shutterstock.com

The Ford F-150 Lightning has an enormous battery pack compared to the previous two EVs, and as such, the cost of charging the vehicle is far higher. Owners of the Lightning can expect to pay around $36 to charge the truck, against nearly double the national average of $21.

This is contrasted against the average gas cost of the state is around $5 per gallon. To fuel a comparable Ford F-150 using a combustion engine, Hawaii residents could look to spend around $115. While electricity is far more expensive than in other states, the cost of charging your EV regularly is considerably less.

F-150 Lightning vs Rivian R1t
The F150 Lightning will cost Hawaii owners as much as $36 per charge.

©Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock.com

Incentives for Local EV Owners

There aren’t any explicitly stated incentives for purchasing an EV provided by the state. As with every other state in the country, there is a federal tax credit residents can apply for. The federal tax credit for new vehicles allows for a return of $7500 on the purchase of new vehicles. Used vehicles also qualify for certain federal tax rebates, which can have certain restrictions regarding purchases.

Hawaii does provide a few initiatives of its own for ownership, with the state offering up an EV charging station rebate and the Smart Charge Hawaii Program. The charging station rebate is provided by Hawaii Energy, working in conjunction with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Applicants can be residents or businesses, and it provides some cash back on establishing your own charging station.

The Smart Charge Hawaii Program allows for reduced rates at smart charging stations provided by Enel X.

More curiously there is an additional $50 cost required for EV and plug-in hybrid owners to be paid once a year in addition to applicable vehicle taxes and registration fees. Most states provide actual outright incentives for purchasing EVs, so it is unusual to see an additional fee required annually by a state applicable solely to electric vehicles.

How Is Hawaii’s EV Support?

Support for EVs in Hawaii is steadily growing. In many ways, it is lacking compared to other states. The state network of EV charging stations is fairly slim with under 1,000 total across eight islands. Contrast this against the tens of thousands of EVs present in the state and it skews numbers quite considerably.

Additionally, EVs in Hawaii are subject to the aforementioned additional fee on top of the other related costs of owning a car on a year-to-year basis.

That aside, Hawaii is a participant in NEVI or the National Electic Vehicle Infrastructure Program. Hawaii will receive federal funding and the state bodies have convened in 2022 to discuss how to best allocate the funds provided.

Hawaii still has quite a ways to go before it is on the level of its mainland counterparts. The explosive growth of EV owners in the state bodes well for state-wide acceptance and adoption of alternative fuels. Nothing is done overnight after all, but Hawaii seems to be on the right path toward implementing meaningful infrastructure in support of its EV owners as time goes on.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Hawaii have a lot of EV charging stations?

Hawaii doesn’t have a vast multitude of charging stations. Most charging stations are situated on O’ahu, and Honolulu accounts for the lion’s share of those. Hawaii has under 1,000 charging stations, though there are efforts to bring more to other municipalities. EVs have experienced a fair amount of growth in Hawaii, but the infrastructure to support them hasn’t been to the same level as initiatives in California or in much of the battery belt.

EVs are here to stay, so it’ll be interesting to see how Hawaii chooses to proceed in supporting its population of vehicles. Thankfully, given the relative size of the islands comprising the state, home charging is more than a viable option. Couple that with the incentive of installing your own charger and it makes for at least some viability in owning an EV in the state.

Is it worth owning an EV?

Electric vehicles are still met with understandable skepticism. Fossil fuel has long dominated the automotive industry, and as such, the support structures in place are overwhelmingly in favor of more traditional cars. EVs cost less to operate annually, however, and when factored with the lower cost of maintenance makes for an exciting prospect.

EVs are supplanting the production lines of certain automotive manufacturers as well, with companies like Mercedes-Benz pushing towards only making EVs in the next few years. As with any emerging technology there are growing pains, but quite a bit has changed over the last decade to make owning a great fit for your daily driver.

Is owning an EV affordable?

EVs come in at a variety of price points. With this in mind, you can get vehicles well under $40,000 or well into the luxury pricing with certain retailing for well over $100,000. The upfront cost can be a bit heavier than a comparable gasoline-powered car, but there are certain benefits despite this.

EVs aren’t beholden to the fluctuating prices of oil, as electrical pricing remains fairly stable. This also works in conjunction with low-cost or free public charging stations. Additionally, many states offer certain incentives for charging your vehicle at home during off-peak hours. Additionally, EVs require less overall maintenance, as components aren’t reliant on lubricants, belts, and other elements to function. This translates to lower costs overall.

Are there special incentives for owning an EV in Hawaii?

Hawaiian EV owners can apply for federal tax credits, but there is no outright initiative by the state to encourage purchasing one. Additionally, there is a $50 fee paid annually for even owning an EV.

What kind of home charging can be done with an EV?

Every home has access to Level 1 charging which simply requires a basic 120-volt power outlet. This is the slowest method available and can take up to 24 hours to actually get the battery to an acceptable charge level. Level 2 chargers are also available for purchase, but often require special installations without compromising the safety of your wiring.

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