As a result of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill being signed into law on Nov. 15, the Biden administration released “EV Charging Action Plan,” a federal blueprint to develop and deploy a nationwide EV charging network.
The law calls for he Department of Energy and Department of Transportation to form a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to cultivate the network with input from industry leaders, manufacturers, workers, and other EV stakeholders.
Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to announce details of the action plan today in suburban Maryland.
The act’s details
The act calls for a network of 500,000 public charging stations to be built, with the initial focus of the new law will be filling gaps in the current network in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations.
The law includes $5 billion in funding to build the network, with 10% targeted annually to fill in gaps in the network. The White House claims the initiative while accelerate adoption of EVs, especially for those who can’t reliably charge at their home, including the 32% who do not live in single-family homes. The administration also wants the act to create sustainable union jobs, although it gives no further details.
“Now, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will supercharge America’s efforts to lead the electric future, building a better America where we can strengthen domestic supply chains, outcompete the world, and make electric cars cheaper for working families,” The White House said in a statement.
Part of a broader effort
The move comes as Biden has pushed for an EV sales target of 50% by 2030. Given that EVs now account for 2.6% of vehicles sold in the U.S., that could be a tall order. The plan’s release today follows last week’s executive order for the federal government to be carbon-neutral by 2050, transform the federal fleet into an all-electric one by 2035 and reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions 65% by 2030.
Currently, the U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle sales is one-third the size of the Chinese; the efforts should change that, with the intention of leapfrogging their efforts.
When it comes time to install a charger, the economics can be substantial. Level 2 chargers cost about $6,000 installed, Level 3 chargers cost eight times that at $49,000, while fast chargers are significantly more expensive, requiring $100,000 or more, according to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
The study further shows that EV owners who rely on public charging will be stuck paying far more to recharge their car than those who can recharge overnight at home. The PwC analysis shows that charging at home costs around 16¢ per kilowatt hour, public Level 2 chargers costing 44¢, Level 3 will cost 49¢, and fast chargers 59¢ per kwh. Fast chargers’ higher upfront costs means that for a 50-kwh charge, enough for about 100 miles, EV drivers will pay a premium of about $5 to save around 15 to 20 minutes using public charging.
Where are the stations?
There are currently close to 43,000 public EV charging stations and 120,000 charging ports in the U.S., according to U.S. Department of Energy. Nearly 30% are in California, a state with less than 12% of the U.S. population.
In fact, the state has the same number of stations as 39 states with the fewest stations combined. After California comes New York with 2,618 stations, Florida with 2,258, Texas with 2,071, Massachusetts with 1,838, Washington with 1,532, Georgia with 1,478 and Colorado with 1,384. And the majority are Level 2 chargers, which is far from the fast standard most motorists expect. And nationwide, 1,101 EV stations, or nearly 1%, can only be used by Tesla owners.
By comparison, there are an estimated 135,000 gas stations with approximately 1.4 million pumps, according to National Petroleum News estimates.
The PwC study states that a buildout in the charging network would hasten EV adoption, but how quickly that occurs is open to question. Certainly, a change in administration could potentially slow a national buildout, as the current penchant for petty partisan egos takes precedent over the common good and national interests.