With the Biden administration hoping to transition the United States toward all-electric vehicles, it has set a goal of commissioning the construction of a nationwide network of 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030. But saying you’re going to do something as part of a $1-trillion infrastructure plan is a lot easier than actually doing it because there are a lot of steps that have to be taken before a plan can effectively be put into action. This is called planning and it’s something the government occasionally engages in to ensure a program is successful. As such, the Biden administration is issuing a series of standards and requirements for federally funded electric vehicle charging stations.
“To support the transition to electric vehicles, we must build a national charging network that makes finding a charge as easy as filling up at a gas station,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These new ground rules will help create a network of EV chargers across the country that are convenient, affordable, reliable and accessible for all Americans.”
Researchers with the University of California, Berkeley, are pouring cold water of the premise that electric vehicle charging stations will require less maintenance than traditional fueling solutions. The study, which examined 657 individual connectors between 181 public fast-charging stations in the San Francisco Bay area found that about 23 percent were nonfunctional.
That seems quite a bit higher than the number of fuel pumps that might be down at any given station, though the pertinent question is why those EV charging points were inoperable.
The Biden administration held another meeting with automotive executives about how to ensure electric vehicles go mainstream. But this time it included Elon Musk, who runs the most successful EV brand in the entire world.
After taking criticism for shunning the Tesla CEO in earlier meetings, senior officials held an event on Wednesday where he and other industry leaders could contribute as to how the United States should handle a national charging infrastructure and spur adoption rates. Despite Musk having often expressed a dissenting opinion in regard to President Biden’s strategy, the White House said that the meeting was productive and resulted in a “broad consensus that charging stations and vehicles need to be interoperable and provide a seamless user experience, no matter what car you drive or where you charge your EV.”
As the industry continues struggling with its planned swap to electric vehicles, we’ve seen plenty of framing suggesting dealer networks are only too happy to participate. But it’s usually juxtaposed with articles indicating that pushback exists, typically whenever the metaphorical rubber meets the road. This month provided several premium examples stemming from the National Automobile Dealers Association Expo (NADA Show 2022) held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Though the best had to be when several dealer groups piped up about how much it’s actually going to cost them to install some of the newer chargers some manufacturers believe should be mandatory if they’re intent on selling EVs. Some showrooms are finding out that not all buildings are wired for the high loads incurred by modern charging systems, requiring additional financial investments they hadn’t counted on. With automotive dealerships using product delays as leverage for unprecedented vehicle pricing, it’s nice to see them getting a taste of their own medicine. Or it would be if the costs for updating facilities weren’t guaranteed to be reflected on future window stickers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today that it will distribute $5 billion to establish electric-vehicle charging along the interstate highway system. Managed by the newly formed Joint Office of Energy and Transportation formed after the $1.2-trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in Congress, the federal spend is a joint operation between the DOT and U.S. Department of Energy.
By 2030, the federal government is hoping to have a network of 500,000 charging stations in a bid to reduce range anxiety and spur EV adoption. But it wants individual states to make the necessary investments to connect the highway-based network to cities and towns. As you might have guessed, Democrat lawmakers have broadly supported the imitative while Republicans are calling it too expensive and a distraction from other aspects of U.S. infrastructure in need of maintenance.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced a plan to construct the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit that would allow EV drivers to enjoy a scenic, coastal drive without being distracted by fears of range anxiety. Having recently returned from the Mitten state, I can say that its current charging infrastructure is about what you’d expect. You’re bound to find something in the urban hubs, likely with a little help from navigational apps. But the spaces between aren’t going to be of much help and the situation only worsens as you head north along the Eastern coastline where charging points are particularly sparse.
But it’s Lake Michigan that draws the most tourists in a given year, so Whitmer’s team has elected to plot the stations on the Western side of the state to encourage visitors. As a byproduct, leadership said this will also prove that the region is committed to electrification and serious about supporting the evolving automotive industry.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t fond of the new electric-vehicle incentives being proposed by the United States Congress and recently stated as much over social media this week. He even went so far as to allege that the bill was lobbyists working on behalf of legacy automakers and the United Auto Workers, as it monetarily benefits domestic manufacturers with strong union ties above all others.
Truth be told, it’s kind of hard to respond to those claims with anything other than an affirmative nod. Due to his seemingly intentional manipulation of cryptocurrency and willingness to overpromise Tesla investors, I’m not the biggest fan of Musk. However, he’s getting support from other manufacturers and it’s pretty hard for your author to see any legislative scenario other than the one he’s supporting — especially since this is frequently how business is done on Capitol Hill.
This week, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (the largest automotive lobby in existence) released a set of principles relating to the EV charging infrastructure that it believes will be absolutely necessary to spur consumer adoption of electric and alternative energy vehicles in the United States.
“For the auto industry’s transition to electrification to be successful, customers will need access to affordable and convenient charging and hydrogen fueling, easy-to-understand utility rate structures that reward off-peak charging, and improved charging times,” John Bozzella, CEO of the alliance, said on Wednesday. “And we must also work together to grow EV sales without leaving low-income, rural or disadvantaged communities behind.”
That’s corporate-speak for “we need to stop catering to wealthy buyers and the government needs to pay for as much of this as possible.”
On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company’s proprietary charging network would be opened up to other brands by 2022. It’s something Europe has been pressing the automaker on for years and a topic that’s become increasingly popular in the United States. Tesla announced it had completed over 25,000 charging points this year and most Western governments have committed themselves to advance electrification whether or not consumers or the industry feels ready.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is demanding the EU install more electric vehicle charging stations in a letter co-signed with Transport & Environment (T&E) and the European Consumer Organization (BEUC). This marks the hundredth time (rough estimate) an auto lobbying entity has tried to pressure the government into spending a fortune to drastically alter the European infrastructure to support the planned glut of EVs.
But it might be a fair request. Regulatory actions have effectively forced the industry into a corner and it now seems giddy at the prospect of an electrified world. The only real downside is that the charging infrastructure and power grids aren’t ready. ACEA estimates that the EU will need to build one million public charging points by 2024, with hopes of seeing three million installed before 2030.
Let’s see how feasible that is before it’s tried in our neck of the woods.
Electrify America, the U.S. company Volkswagen had to create as part of its diesel emissions penance, announced Wednesday that it will work with Love’s Travel Stops to bring ultra-fast electric vehicle charging stations to seven locations in half a dozen states.
While much of the group’s work has revolved around servicing areas (often through business partnerships) where EVs tend to proliferate, the plan has also been to bolster the national charging infrastructure by providing routes that could help facilitate long-distance travel.
The new charging stations — located in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Florida, New York and Arizona — will account for a combined 28 EV chargers and should available for public use by early 2021. In its announcement, Electrify America said previous work with Love’s allowed it to complete a cross-country route between Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.
Electrify America, the organization formed as part of Volkswagen’s $2-billion penance to promote the spread of electric vehicles after the Dieselgate scandal, is touting a new EV-related icon it believes will be in service of its broader aspirations.
The company has launched an obligatory Change.org petition to get the Unicode Consortium to adopt an charging station emoji of its own design. Electrifiy America noted that the governing body rejected last year’s proposal, saying something needed to be put into place to that “represents the EV industry and the future of transportation.”
It also said it realized “the Unicode Consortium has a tough job to avoid overpopulating smartphone keyboards with endless emojis. However, we believe the Unicode solution of continuing to represent EV charging with a Gas Pump Emoji is not a forward-thinking approach.”