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

Hi there! You may be wondering if owning an electric vehicle in Iowa makes sense given the state‘s reputation for endless cornfields and lack of charging stations. As an experienced EV analyst, I‘m here to provide a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about going electric in the Hawkeye State. Read on to learn about charging costs, available incentives, infrastructure improvements, and more to help you decide if now is the right time to buy an EV in Iowa.

The Current State of Iowa‘s EV Infrastructure

Iowa has historically lagged behind other states when it comes to adopting electric vehicles. There are a few reasons for this:

  • As of November 2022, Iowa had just 1,203 public charging stations statewide according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy. That gives Iowa only 38 charging stations per 100,000 people, far below the national average of 52 per 100,000.

  • About 70% of Iowa‘s stations are Level 2 chargers, which take hours to fully recharge an EV battery. Only 67 stations offer fast DC charging.

  • Most charging locations are clustered around bigger cities, leaving rural drivers with fewer options.

However, change is coming to Iowa‘s EV infrastructure thanks to recent investments at both the state and federal levels.

In May 2022, Iowa announced a $76 million plan to expand public EV charging over the next 5 years. The goal is to install fast chargers every 50 miles along major highways to enable easier long-distance EV travel. Here‘s a quick overview of how Iowa‘s charging infrastructure will improve:

Year New Charging Stations
2023 60 new charging stations
2024 120 new charging stations
2025 160 new charging stations

The funding comes from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Nationwide over 5 years, this program will provide:

  • $5 billion to build out a national EV charging network
  • Funding for over 500,000 new public EV chargers
  • At least 4 fast chargers per every 1 highway exit by 2030

For Iowa drivers, this influx of infrastructure funding will soon make owning an EV more feasible across the state. You‘ll have more options when planning road trips or charging on the go.

Where Are Most Charging Stations Located?

Currently, Iowa‘s charging infrastructure is heavily concentrated around metro areas:

  • Des Moines area – 234 stations
  • Cedar Rapids area – 104 stations
  • Iowa City area – 73 stations
  • Davenport area – 69 stations
  • Sioux City area – 54 stations
  • Dubuque area – 47 stations
  • Waterloo area – 39 stations

Very few stations exist in Iowa‘s rural counties. But the upcoming NEVI investments will help address this gap by adding more fast chargers near smaller towns along major highways. Improved rural access will help make EVs an option for more Iowa drivers.

Types of Charging Stations Available

Iowa offers a range of charging station speeds:

  • Level 1 (Slowest): 120V outlets; 1-2 miles of range per hour

  • Level 2: 240V hookups; 10-25 miles of range per hour

  • DC Fast Charging: 0-80% charge in 20-30 minutes; requires compatible EV

  • Tesla Superchargers: 180+ miles in 15 minutes; Tesla vehicles only

  • CHAdeMO: DC fast charging standard; compatible with older Nissan, Kia, Mitsubishi models

  • J1772: Most common connector for Level 1 & Level 2 charging

As more fast charging comes online soon, EV drivers will have flexibility to charge at different speeds as needed.

What Does It Cost to Charge an EV in Iowa?

When deciding on an electric vehicle, a big question is how much it will cost to charge in your area. The good news is that Iowa has relatively affordable electricity rates compared to much of the U.S.

Here are Iowa‘s current average residential and commercial electricity rates according to November 2022 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

Residential Rate 13.31 cents/kWh
Commercial Rate 10.27 cents/kWh

These are well below the national averages of 15.27 cents/kWh (residential) and 11.37 cents/kWh (commercial).

For at-home charging, you can expect to pay around $0.13 per kWh in Iowa. Using public chargers costs more, averaging around $0.18 per kWh.

Here‘s a breakdown of how much it would cost to fully charge some popular electric vehicles in Iowa:

EV Model Battery Size At-Home Charge Public Charge
2022 Chevrolet Bolt 66 kWh $8.58 $11.88
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 58 kWh $7.54 $10.44
2023 Nissan Leaf 40 kWh $5.20 $7.20
2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E 91 kWh $11.88 $16.38

With Iowa‘s affordable electricity rates, powering an EV in the state is very economical, especially when charging at home. Not having to buy gas helps offset higher upfront vehicle costs over time.

Other Ownership Costs and Incentives

Aside from charging expenses, here are some other costs to keep in mind if you go electric in Iowa:

  • Registration: Iowa charges a $130 registration fee when first registering an EV, followed by a $65 annual renewal fee.

  • Insurance: EVs have 5-10% lower premiums on average compared to gas vehicles.

  • Maintenance: Far fewer mechanical parts means minimal maintenance costs. No oil changes needed!

  • Incentives: Iowa has no state rebates or tax credits for buying an EV. But you can still claim the new federal EV tax credit of up to $7,500.

Overall maintenance and fuel costs are so low that EVs offer significant long-term savings over gas-powered cars in Iowa. And the federal tax incentive helps offset the state‘s steeper registration fees.

Environmental Benefits of Driving Electric

Choosing an EV over a gas vehicle provides environmental advantages:

  • Zero emissions: EVs produce no direct exhaust emissions since they don‘t have a tailpipe.

  • Cleaner electricity: Iowa gets over 50% of its electricity from wind power, making EV operation even cleaner.

  • Lower lifetime emissions: Manufacturing accounts for the bulk of an EV‘s emissions. Operating emissions are negligible, whereas gas cars keep polluting.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the average EV charged in Iowa produces global warming emissions equivalent to a hypothetical gasoline vehicle with 117 MPG fuel efficiency. So going electric can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

EV Purchase Prices and Models Available

Upfront cost is often a primary concern when buying an electric vehicle. Here‘s a look at the purchase prices in Iowa for some of today‘s top EV models:

  • 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Starts at $26,595 before incentives

  • 2023 Nissan Leaf: Starts at $28,040 before incentives

  • 2022 Tesla Model 3: Starts at $47,000 before incentives

  • 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5: Starts at $42,745 before incentives

  • 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E: Starts at $45,995 before incentives

Remember, you can claim a $7,500 federal tax credit for purchasing a new EV. Some automakers also offer discounts or cash incentives. With available credits, you can effectively lower the purchase price by $7,500 to $10,000+.

I always recommend considering total 5-year cost of ownership, not just MSRP. Fuel and maintenance savings usually offset EV price premiums over time. Leasing is also a great option to lower payments on pricier EV models.

Is an EV Right for You?

When deciding if an electric vehicle makes sense in Iowa, assess your driving habits:

  • Commuters: EVs work great if your daily commute is under 200 miles roundtrip. Charging overnight handles most regular driving.

  • Urban drivers: Frequent start-and-stop driving maximizes EV range. Access to public charging is easier in cities.

  • Rural drivers: Long highway commutes can be challenging due to range anxiety between chargers. But new fast chargers will help.

  • Home charging: Having a place to charge at home or work makes owning an EV much simpler.

While Iowa isn‘t yet an EV paradise, ownership can work well if you have predictable driving and home charging. And as more fast chargers come online, EVs will be viable for more long-distance driving.

Bottom Line on Owning an EV in Iowa

Here‘s a quick summary of the key points:

  • Iowa is making major investments to expand public EV charging infrastructure statewide.

  • Electricity rates are affordable compared to much of the country, making charging economical.

  • Maintenance and fuel costs are far lower than gas vehicles.

  • EVs offer environmental benefits by eliminating tailpipe emissions.

  • With federal tax credits, EV purchase prices become more attractive.

  • Assess your driving needs, but EVs can work well for many Iowa drivers.

I hope this comprehensive guide gives you all the information you need to decide if now is the right time to go electric with your next vehicle purchase here in Iowa. Let me know if you have any other questions!