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Owning an EV in South Carolina: Charging Cost, Incentives, and More

Charleston South Carolina

Owning an EV in South Carolina: Charging Cost, Incentives, and More

As a recent member of the battery belt, South Carolina has made moves towards embracing electric vehicles and their infrastructure. The Palmetto State isn’t perhaps as supportive as states like Texas or California, but there are plenty of good reasons for residents to purchase their own EVs. Electric vehicles are here to stay, and the manufacturing hubs in the Southeast have followed suit to support their adoption.

What does it actually cost to own an EV in South Carolina? There are plentiful charging stations, but the state still falters in other areas when it comes to providing infrastructure across most of its land mass. Let’s take a look at how EV owners get on with all there is to offer in the state.

Charging Infrastructure for EVs in South Carolina

EV chargers in major areas of the state are consistently available with cities like Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston bearing the vast majority of them. Greenville has the most available with 95 charging stations available. Columbia is in second place with 82 total charging stations. Tesla owners aren’t left out of the fray either, with 19 Superchargers across the entire state. It would serve Tesla owners to purchase an adapter for better coverage. Superchargers are only a fraction of the overall available charging stations.

There are over 1,500 charging stations across the entirety of the state. More stations are being implemented across the highway systems in the state. South Carolina governor Henry McMaster just recently signed an executive order. The order establishes more robust foundations for further developments with EVs. While the charging stations available aren’t quite as plentiful as in other states, South Carolina has committed to embracing them. Automotive manufacturers have been flocking to the state for some time. Support for EVs may very well convince more to build in the state.

The Cost of Charging an EV in South Carolina

South Carolina is one of the cheaper states to charge an EV in, matching the somewhat lower cost of gasoline and diesel. Electricity is a good bit cheaper in South Carolina than in other states, and you can expect to pay less on average across a wide selection of vehicles.

The Tesla Model 3 remains a favorite for EV owners. Charging one to full in South Carolina costs just under $6. This is around $2 less than the national average. These rates compared to a full tank of gas is wildly affordable to do on a weekly basis. The Model 3 boasts a range of 358 miles per EPA estimates. With affordable charging prices like this, South Carolina residents could roam across the major cities at their leisure.

Tesla-Model-3-Performance
Charging a Tesla Model 3 to full costs just under $6 in South Carolina.

The Ford F-150 Lightning pairs the utility of a truck with lower fuel costs. At just under $13 for a full charge, it’s one of the more expensive EVs to charge. The Lightning is typically the most expensive EV to charge when looking at electricity costs. This is in part thanks to the larger battery pack it carries to power a full-sized pickup truck.

F-150 Lightning vs Rivian R1t
The F150 Lightning is one of the more expensive EVs to charge at around $13 for a full charge.

Volvo’s popular XC40 has been lauded for its smooth ride and safety features. South Carolina residents can expect to pay around $8 to fully charge the XC40. This is just around $1 under the national average for electricity costs. Overall, it is not a bad value for XC40 owners.

The average cost of gas in South Carolina is lower, coming in at around $3.50 a gallon. Compared to a full charge on a full-size electric SUV, truck, or sedan and it is a great incentive for EV owners. Gas may be cheaper in South Carolina, but electricity is even cheaper.

2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge
The Volvo XC40 costs approximately $8 for a full charge in South Carolina.

Incentives for Local EV Owners

South Carolina doesn’t provide any rebates of its own for EV owners. If applicable federal tax credits are available, they of course will count towards the purchase of any new or used EV. The state instead incentivizes developing infrastructure.

South Carolina has a battery manufacturing tax incentive, with the cost of materials and equipment costing 20% less. This does come with some caveats, with a minimum investment of $100 million into the project and a creation of 200 or more jobs being necessary to qualify.

An income tax credit of 25% off is available for businesses purchasing, building, or developing alternative fuel infrastructure. It doesn’t solely cover EVs, with alternative fuels like hydrogen and natural gases being included. It does provide some incentive for developing charging stations and allows for the rollover of tax credits over a ten-year duration.

Local power provider Duke Energy offers up at least one incentive for EV owners. New EV purchasers qualify for a $500 rebate toward the installation of a level 2 charger. There is also a monthly credit of $13.87 a month to charge during off-peak hours. Duke also provides free installation and maintenance of DCFC charging stations across their service area. Applications for the charger installation are limited but are renewed on a yearly basis.

South Carolina residents will be expected to pay $120 every two years for owning an EV, as the fee goes towards developing further infrastructure. Time will tell if this program remains in place for the foreseeable future.

The state Public Service Commission also offers recovery of cost for infrastructure or vehicle purchases, but this is on a case-by-case basis and only available for businesses.

How Is South Carolina’s EV Support?

Support for EVs in South Carolina is quite solid and is steadily improving. Out of the selection of charging stations available in the state, a full 2/3 are free. Couple that with the growing network of charging stations and the state’s commitment to developing infrastructure and it paints quite the rosy picture for owners.

South Carolina is a participant of NEVI and is receiving federal funding to further develop its support for alternative fuel sources. Hearings for how the state is going to handle its allotment of federal funding have already been conducted, and the results are available to the public.

While South Carolina isn’t quite as supportive as states where EVs are manufactured, what is present is a good foundation. The push towards the adoption of electric vehicles has been a slower proposition for some states, but South Carolina looks to embrace all aspects of what it means to be a part of the battery belt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does South Carolina have a lot of EV charging stations?

South Carolina has just over 1,500 available charging stations across the entire state. The vast majority of these are centered on three of the major cities present in the state. There are a good many across a wider swathe of the state’s landmass, but more remote areas lack adequate charging infrastructure. Those who own an EV in a more rural municipality would be well served by looking into the installation of a Level 2 charging station at their residence.

Charging options are about to expand for Ford and General Motors (GM) EV owners. Both companies recently announced that owners of their EVs will be able to use an adaptor to charge at 12,000 Tesla Superchargers. And, in a move that almost ensures that Tesla’s North American Charging Standard connection will become the U.S. standard, both companies will feature it in their EVs starting in 2025.

Are EVs cheaper to fuel?

On average, the cost of electricity is far lower than the cost of gas or diesel. Where caveats arise is in the availability of charging stations. Charging stations aren’t nearly as prolific across a wider area compared to gas stations. EV owners can of course mitigate this by charging at home, but longer trips may require special planning to accommodate for the lack of available chargers across more remote areas.

EVs can have less range than a regular vehicle, but when you factor in the actual costs of fueling the vehicle at home versus at the pump it weighs heavily towards EVs.

Does South Carolina have incentives for EV owners?

There are no incentives offered by the state for the purchase of an EV. South Carolina also has a biennial $120 fee for owning an EV which goes towards the development of infrastructure. You are of course still entitled to federal rebates if applicable toward your purchase, but the state primarily offers incentives to businesses rather than individuals.

What are the differences in EV chargers?

Level 1 is the most basic and widely available at all homes. You’ll be plugging up into a standard power outlet, and it is quite slow for Level 1. Level 2 requires a specialized installation and halves the time to charge your EV’s battery. Direct Current Fast Charging, or DCFC, is the fastest available. You’ll find your EV’s battery charges in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours.

Is purchasing an EV more expensive than a regular car?

A few years ago this may have been the case, but recent years have seen multiple EVs come out which are in a far more affordable price range. You can purchase EVs from Hyundai, Ford, Chevrolet, and Kia which are all below $40,000 at retail. This may not be as affordable as purchasing a used beater car, but compared to other new manufacture vehicles they are available for equivalent prices.

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