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

So you‘re an Iowan interested in joining the EV revolution sweeping the nation but not sure what to expect. This in-depth guide covers everything potential EV owners need to know about charging infrastructure, costs, incentives and the future of electric vehicle ownership in the Hawkeye State.

Overview of EV Ownership in Iowa

Iowa currently faces some challenges in fully embracing electric vehicle adoption – namely a lack of widespread public charging infrastructure or state purchase incentives compared to coastal states.

However, year by year more DC fast charging stations are connecting major metro areas and interstates. And residential power rates under $0.14/kWh make home charging extremely affordable. Upfront EV prices also continue falling toward parity with gas cars.

This article will equip you with details on:

  • Locations, connector types and costs of public chargers across Iowa
  • Full cost breakdowns and charging economics of 4 top EV models
  • Comparisons of home vs public charging tradeoffs
  • Current status of federal and state incentives
  • Key takeaways on navigating EV ownership in Iowa

While EVs involve some unique factors to consider in Iowa currently, understanding these nuances will help you make the transition seamlessly.

Detailed Breakdown of Iowa‘s EV Charging Infrastructure

The route to mass EV adoption runs on electrons flowing from convenient, affordable public charging stations. So what does Iowa‘s current charging infrastructure look like for owners?

Number and Locations of Charging Stations

Iowa has over 1,200 public charging ports deployed across the state based on the latest Department of Energy alternative fuels dataset. While dwarfed by larger states, this network grows larger each year.

The following table summarizes the number of charging stations by major metropolitan area:

City# of Charging Stations
Des Moines/Ames274
Cedar Rapids112
Davenport/Quad Cities94
Iowa City63
Sioux City39

In addition to the cities above, stations are spread along major interstates connecting rural towns:

  • I-35: 42 stations from Missouri border through Des Moines up to Minnesota
  • I-80: 32 stations in the crucial east-west artery crossing the state
  • I-29: 15 stations lining the northwest border with South Dakota

The map below from the U.S. DOE shows the precise locations of all public charging ports:

Iowa EV Charging Station Locations

While station density is far below California or east coast states, strategic placement along highway routes means EVs can cover Iowa‘s vast country with some advance planning.

Types of EV Charging Stations in Iowa

It‘s also key to understand the different levels of charging stations available when planning travel or daily charging in your EV:

Level 1 Charging

  • Low power 120V outlets
  • 2-5 miles of range added per hour charging
  • Best for overnight charging at home
  • Over 150 free Level 1 public stations at hotels, shops, libraries primarily intended for visitors

Level 2 Charging

  • Faster 240V ports
  • 10-20 miles of range added per hour
  • Requires purchase/installation of home or public charge box
  • Most common public infrastructure – enables full charge in 4-8 hours

DC Fast Charging

  • High power 480V+ direct current
  • 60-80 miles of range in about 20-30 minutes
  • Supported by all new EVs besides lower-end models
  • Around 65 locations in Iowa but concentrated in major metros

Connectors follow industry standards:

  • J1772 for all Level 1 and Level 2 AC charging
  • CHAdeMO or CCS for DC fast charging depending on EV model
  • Tesla uses proprietary connector for their Supercharger network

While Iowa‘s charging infrastructure has plenty of room for growth, all three major charging levels are available in metro regions. And strategic placements exist along major roadways for rural travel.

Detailed Cost Breakdown of Top Selling EV Models

While upfront sticker prices still run higher on EVs currently, you can save substantially on the cost per mile driven given far lower electricity rates versus soaring gas prices. And when factoring in federal tax incentives along with lower maintenance, EVs make a lot of financial sense for Iowans putting on higher yearly mileage.

To help choose the right EV, here is a detailed cost breakdown of four top selling models including purchase price, charging costs, and cost per mile driven.

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevy Bolt EV

Base MSRP: $26,595 (LT trim)
Battery/Range: 65 kWh – 259 miles
Efficiency: 3.93 miles/kWh

Based on Iowa‘s average home electricity rate of $0.134 per kWh [^1], here is the Bolt EV‘s charging cost breakdown:

Charging Stats
Full Battery Capacity65 kWh
Electricity Rate$0.134 per kWh
Cost to Full Charge$8.71
Miles per full charge259 miles
$ per mile$0.0337

At $0.0337 per mile, the Bolt EV is 75% cheaper per mile than an equivalent gas car getting 31 MPG at $3.90/gallon. Over 15,000 miles per year thats over $4,000/year in "fuel" savings!

Factor in potential federal tax credits of $3,750 for the Bolt and your effective purchase price drops to $22,845 – very competitive with a comparable compact hatchback once you tally long term savings.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Base MSRP: $41,245 (SE Trim)
Battery/Range: 58 kWh – 220 miles
Efficiency: 3.79 miles/kWh

Here is the charging cost breakdown for the Ioniq 5:

| Charging Stats ||
| Full Battery Capacity | 58 kWh |
| Electricity Rate | $0.134 per kWh |
| Cost to Full Charge | $7.77 |
| Miles per full charge | 220 miles |
|$ per mile | $0.0353 |

Despite being a larger crossover SUV, the Ioniq 5 is still extremely efficient – only slightly higher per mile charging cost than the Bolt EV. And with support for 350 kW charging, its 800V battery architecture can add 210 miles of charge in just 18 minutes!

With potential $7,500 federal tax credits, the Ioniq 5 effective cost is $33,745 making it a great EV option as an SUV/crossover.

2023 Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

Base MSRP: $28,790 (S trim)
Battery/Range: 40 kWh – 149 miles
Efficiency: 3.73 miles/kWh

Here are the charging costs for the standard range 40 kWh Nissan Leaf:

| Charging Stats ||
| Full Battery Capacity | 40 kWh |
| Electricity Rate | $0.134 per kWh |
| Cost to Full Charge | $5.36 |
| Miles per full charge | 149 miles |
|$ per mile | $0.0360 |

And for the extended range 62 kWh battery:

| Charging Stats ||
| Full Battery Capacity | 62 kWh |
| Electricity Rate | $0.134 per kWh |
| Cost to Full Charge | $8.31 |
| Miles per full charge | 212 miles |
|$ per mile | $0.0392 |

While providing less range than the Bolt or Ioniq 5, the Leaf‘s lower purchase price balances total ownership costs. And the $4,000 upgrade to the extended range battery pushes per-mile charging costs even lower.

Factor in potential federal credits up to $7,500 and you can pick up a Leaf for very cheap once the full savings are accounted. This makes it a great budget EV option.

2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Base MSRP: $46,895 (Standard Range)
Battery/Range: 70 kWh – 247 miles
Efficiency: 3.53 miles/kWh

Here‘s how charging costs break down on the 70 kWh Standard Range Mach-E:

| Charging Stats ||
| Full Battery Capacity | 70 kWh |
| Electricity Rate | $0.134 per kWh |
| Cost to Full Charge | $9.38 |
| Miles per full charge | 247 miles |
|$ per mile | $0.0380 |

And the Extended Range 91 kWh battery:

| Charging Stats ||
| Full Battery Capacity | 91 kWh |
| Electricity Rate | $0.134 per kWh |
| Cost to Full Charge | $12.19 |
| Miles per full charge | 303 miles |
|$ per mile | $0.0402 |

While a bigger crossover like the Mach-E is slightly less efficient than compact rivals, you benefit from AWD performance and ample battery range options.

And federal tax credits from Ford provide $7,500 off the purchase price to make this an affordable performance family vehicle. The extended range Mach-E can cover from Davenport to Omaha on a single charge!

Comparing Home Charging vs Public Charging Costs

In addition to considering upfront vehicle purchase prices and charging costs, Iowa drivers must weigh home charging versus public charging options. Let‘s compare the costs and tradeoffs:

Home ChargingPublic Charging
Hardware Costs$500-$1500 for installationUnlimited use with membership fees
Charging SpeedSlow to moderate (2-20 miles/hour)Fast up to 150+ miles/hour with DC
Average Electricity Cost$0.13/kWh [^1]$0.20+/kWh
ConvenienceCharge overnight at homeCharge on-the-go away from home

Bottom Line – installing a Level 2 charger at home provides the lowest cost per mile and most convenience for daily commutes. But DC fast public charging enables urgent charging and powers longer trips across Iowa‘s long distances.

Utilizing both public and at-home infrastructure as appropriate helps balance affordability and flexibility – crucial for an EV as your primary vehicle.

Overview of Electric Vehicle Incentives in Iowa

For buyers used to state and local tax credits, rebates or perks in other regions switching to an EV, Iowa unfortunately provides very little incentive help as of early 2023. Here‘s a summary:

  • No cash back or point-of-sale rebates from Iowa for purchasing/leasing an EV
  • No additional registration or road tax discounts – in fact EVs pay more
  • No HOV lane exemptions or additional carpool perks
  • No charging station installation incentives or rebates

The only savings versus a gas car come from lower charging costs and reduced maintenance. Without incentives, EVs still carry price premiums over gas rivals ranging from a few thousand for compact cars up to $10k+ for larger vehicles and trucks.

However, the major bright spot is eligibility for the federal EV tax credit offering money back at tax time. For 2023, Ford, GM, Tesla, Hyundai/Kia models qualify for credits from $3,750 up to $7,500. So make sure to explore and claim any credits you qualify for!

While purchase incentives may improve down the road, EV drivers must embrace Iowa‘s super-cheap overnight charging rates to realize the biggest savings in the near-term.

Key Takeaways – Navigating EV Ownership in Iowa

Considering an electric vehicle as your next car purchase in Iowa? Here are some key takeaways:

  • More public DC fast charging stations connecting cities yearly with strategic rural placement

  • ChargePoint, ElectrifyAmerica and others adding more ultra-fast 150+ kW chargers

  • Iowa‘s low electricity costs (30-40% below national average) make home charging extremely affordable

  • Focus on lower-priced EV models like the Bolt, Leaf and Ioniq 5 to maximize cost parity

  • Remember to claim the federal EV tax credit providing $3,750 to $7,500 back at tax time

  • While our incentives lag behind, Iowa‘s low charging costs still provide 4-year payback on EV premiums

I hope this guide gives you confidence that navigating EV ownership in our state is completely feasible despite some unique challenges. Within the next 5 years, rising gas costs will likely shift purchase economics further in favor of EVs without any extra perks.

Let me know if you have any other questions about making the transition to electric!

[^1]: Based on January 2023 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration

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