WASHINGTON:States get green light to build nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations that would place new or upgraded ones every 80 kilometers (50 miles) along interstate highways under Biden administration’s plan aimed at boosting the widespread adoption of zero-emission cars.
The administration on Thursday announced the availability of $5 billion in federal money to states over five years under President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Act, outlining a vision for climate-friendly road travel a coast to coast.
Under Department of Transportation requirements, states must submit plans to the federal government and can begin construction by this fall if they focus on highway roads first, rather than neighborhoods and malls. that can allow people to travel long distances with their electric vehicles. Each station should have at least four fast-charging ports, which allow drivers to fully charge their vehicles in about an hour.
Many technical details remain to be worked out and the administration recognizes that it will take work to convince drivers accustomed to petrol cars, especially in rural areas. The money is far less than the $15 billion Biden had envisioned to deliver on a campaign promise of 500,000 charging stations by 2030, and it may take substantial private investment to make the plan work.
“A century ago America ushered in the age of the modern automobile; now America must lead the electric vehicle revolution,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who will have final approval. on most aspects of financing.
Buttigieg made the announcement outside the Transportation Department with White House officials flanked by a pair of black Ford Mustang Mach-E SUVs in the federal government‘s growing electric fleet that he and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm drive. The retail price of the vehicle starts around $44,000 and climbs to $60,000+ including options, and they are currently manufactured in Mexico.
Buttigieg made a particular appeal to rural drivers, suggesting that America’s wide open spaces no longer need to be a “valley of death” for electric vehicle drivers.
“Many might consider them a luxury item,” he said. “The reality is that no one benefits from electric vehicles in principle more than those who travel the longest distances, often our rural Americans.”
The law provides an additional $2.5 billion for local grants, due later this year, to fill remaining gaps in the charging network in rural areas and in disadvantaged communities, which are currently less likely to own the vehicles. more expensive electricity. States that do not meet all federal requirements risk delaying approval from the Federal Highway Administration or not receiving any money at all.
Biden has also set a goal of 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030, as part of a broader effort to achieve a zero-emissions economy by 2050.
Electric vehicles accounted for less than 3% of new auto sales in the United States last year, but forecasters expect big increases over the next decade. Consumers purchased around 400,000 all-electric vehicles. According to a Consumer Reports survey, anxiety over limited range and the availability of charging stations were among consumers’ top concerns about owning an electric vehicle.
Biden hopes to do even more to promote electric vehicles, including a provision in his stalled social and environmental bill for a $7,500 tax credit for people who buy electric vehicles.
“It will help make America the world leader in electric vehicles,” Biden said this week of American companies developing electric vehicle infrastructure.
“China has led the race so far, but that is about to change,” he said. “Because America is building convenient, reliable, and fair nationwide public charging networks. So wherever you live, charging an electric vehicle will be quick and easy.”
Granholm described the initial $5 billion investment as creating “the backbone” of the national network. Alluding to soaring gas prices, said the goal of the new stations is to build “the infrastructure needed for drivers across America to save money and go the distance.”
Environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council praised the administration’s quick start, but said there was still a lot of work to do. He said states, utilities and private companies will need to step up and fill funding gaps to ensure a comprehensive public charging system by 2035, which is estimated to cost $39 billion.
“We have no time to waste,” the band said in a statement.
Currently, EV owners charge their vehicles at home 80% of the time, making the need for EV charging stations in colleges, apartment building parking lots, or even public streets less urgent. But that is likely to change as more and more people who don’t have a garage to house a charging station are buying electric vehicles.
Under the Department of Transportation’s plan, states would be eligible to build EV stations in neighborhoods and cities once FHWA and Buttigieg certify that they’ve done their part to fulfill their commitments to the network. freeway EV charging, known as alternative fuel corridors.
DC fast chargers, which can charge a car to 80% of its battery capacity in 20-45 minutes, are quite expensive, costing between $40,000 and $100,000, limiting the number that can be built, but they allow drivers to quickly return to a road such as a highway.
Jessika Trancik, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies electric vehicle charging, called the administration’s approach a good first step. She said a successful strategy to spur wider use of electric vehicles will require charging stations in a host of different locations, including faster charging along highways and slower charging near homes and businesses. work places.
Even with limited resources, she said, federal money could be doled out to accelerate private investment, with greater government incentives for areas that might otherwise be underserved by the private sector.
“It’s not about the government installing each of these chargers themselves,” she said. “It’s also about stimulating private sector investment.”
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