Hawaii’s Big Island Goes “Big” On Electric Vehicle Charging

Hawaii is the perfect place for electric vehicles. High gas prices and lots of renewable energy potential (sun and wind) mean residents have an incentive to switch from gas to renewable electricity for driving. And then when you factor the relatively small island geography, range anxiety goes away. Even a small electric vehicle battery should get you to most places on the island on a single charge.

But on the Big Island, range is an issue. They don’t call it “big” for nothing. However, as the joint Berkeley Law / University of Hawaii, Maui College report “Electric Vehicle Paradise” notes, a few key fast charger stations around the island would completely solve the range issue there.

Ideal locations for fast-chargers on the Big Island

Ideal locations for fast-chargers on the Big Island

This map on the right shows some of those locations, as envisioned by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

So I’m pleased to see that over the holiday weekend, Big Island EV drivers, the local solar company, and a charging company unveiled a brand-new fast charger at the key location of Mauna Lani, roughly midway between Kona on the west side and Hilo on the east side. The station provides a crucial link between the two, at least for all-battery EVs like the Nissan LEAF. (It’s about 70 miles, including an uphill and then a long downhill to Hilo from there, and about 30 miles over flat ground to Kona — with elevation affecting battery range.)

Congrats to Big Island residents for finally making this happen. Now they just need a few more fast chargers to make the island a true EV paradise.


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