The White House hits the accelerator pedal to increase electric vehicle adoption
There’s a coalition of car companies, utilities, and charging networks on board.
The news earlier this week that the ambitious 54.5mpg Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency target is dead in the water was unwelcome for those worried about the ever-growing problem of climate change. But we can take some cheer from yesterday’s announcement from the White House detailing plans to boost the uptake of electric vehicles here in the United States.
The plan involves a concerted effort from the government (the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, US Air Force and US Army) as well as a number of states, utilities companies, automakers, and EV infrastructure companies that is meant to make life a lot easier for EV drivers in the coming years.
As we’ve repeatedly noted, it’s all well and good being able to buy an electric car, but widespread adoption will require the same kind of infrastructure support that already exists for fossil fueled vehicles. That’s where this plan comes in. Among the specific measures announced there is $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for companies building charging facilities, the creation of alternative fuel and zero emissions corridors, more EVs on state and federal government fleets, and a plan for hackathons to find new solutions to topping up EV batteries.
The loan guarantees are an expansion of an existing DoE program, Title XVII Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Solicitation. This is part of a DoE program that has currently loaned or guaranteed more than $30 billion, not just to renewable energy projects but also new nuclear reactors and even advanced technology vehicle manufacturing facilities.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation will identify national EV charging (as well as hydrogen, propane, and natural gas) corridors around the country. And the two departments are partnering on a plan for a national network of fast charging stations to make those cross-country EV road trips a reality. Yes, it’s true that Tesla already offers such a network, but it is a walled garden, off-limits to owners of other EVs—good if you’re a Tesla shareholder, less good if you’re more interested in seeing many more EVs of all stripes and shades on our roads. Part of this effort includes technology development to speed up charge times (up to 350kW charging).
Other parts of the plan involve work lead by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory meant to triple the energy density of batteries (to 500WH/kg) and make them cheaper—below $100/kWh—as well as lighter.
Over in the private sector, another 35 large employers have joined onto efforts to expand workplace charging for EV drivers (helpful if, like me, you live in an urban area and have to rely on street parking). Twelve utilities companies have signed on to the plan, promising to expand home- and workplace charging, as well as reducing local barriers to EV charging. And between them, Chargepoint and EVgo have committed to $120 million in infrastructure expansion (the majority coming from the latter, which owns actual chargers).
ChargePoint’s CEO Pat Romano told Ars that “Today’s White House announcement demonstrates that our nation’s leadership understands that the future of transportation in this country is electric. At ChargePoint, we support this vision and believe that we need a network of charging stations in our communities and alongside our nation’s interstate highways. That’s why we’re committing to investing $20 million for the development and deployment of this network.”
Between this and Elon Musk’s masterplan part deux, it’s been a busy week in EVania.