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The rise of electric vehicles in the United States is about to begin. Does the United States have the power to charge it? | Electric, hybrid and low emission cars

Speaking in front of a lineup of the latest electric vehicles (EVs) at this month’s North American International Auto Show, President Joe Biden declared, “The great American road trip will be all-electric.”

Most vehicles on the road are still gas-guzzling, but Washington is betting big on change, hoping that a big federal investment will help reach the White House goal of 50% of new cars being electric cars by 2030. But there are hurdles: Specifically when it comes to charging them all, “range anxiety,” or how far you can travel before needing to charge, is still cited as a major deterrent to potential buyers. of electric vehicles.

An electric vehicle charging station is shown during the unveiling of a series of zero-emission heavy trucks on September 13. Photographer: Caroline Brehman/EPA

The auto industry recently passed the 5% mark of electric vehicle market share: a watershed moment, analysts say, before rapid growth. New policies at the state and local level could well spur that growth: The Reducing Inflation Act, passed this summer, offers tax credits of $4,000 to buy a used EV and up to $7,500 for some new ones. In August, California, the nation’s largest state and economy, announced rules that would ban all new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. New York plans continue.

So now, the race is on to provide chargers to power all those new electric vehicles.

The administration’s goal of 500,000 public charging units by 2030 is a far cry from the current count of nearly 50,000, according to the Department of Energy’s estimate. And those new chargers will have to be narrowly – what is known as level 2 or 3 charging – and functional to create a truly reliable system Today, many are not.

Last week, the White House approved plans for all 50 states, along with Washington DC and Puerto Rico, to install chargers along highways, unlocking $1.5 billion in federal funding for that purpose. The money comes from the landmark infrastructure bill passed last year, which invests $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging in total.

But how much of that money is spent will largely be determined at the local level. “It’s a difference between policy and practice,” said Drew Lipsher, director of development for voltage, to the EV charging provider. “Now that the federal government has these policies, the question is, OK, how do you actually implement this?” The practice, he said, corresponds to the states and municipalities.

As demand for EVs increases, a growing number of cities are adopting policies to build EV charging. In July, the city of Colón I pass an “electric vehicle readiness” ordinance, which will require new parking structures to house charging stations proportional to the total number of parking spaces, with at least one being ADA accessible. Honolulu other atlanta Similar measures have been passed.

A great challenge is to create a distribution model that can satisfy a diversity of needs.

Right now, most electric vehicle owners charge their cars at home with a built-in unit, which governments can help subsidize. But for those who live in apartments or multi-family homes, that’s less feasible. “When we think about the largest parts of the population, that’s where we really need to focus our attention. This is a major equity issue,” said Alexia Melendez Martineau, policy manager for Complement Americato the electric vehicle consumer advocacy group.

Bringing power to the people is one of those solutions. In Hoboken, New Jersey, Volta is labor with the city to create a charging network on the street. “The network will be within a five-minute walk of each resident,” Lipsher said. “Hopefully, this is a way to really import it into cities that believe public street EV charging infrastructure is important.” Similarly, in parts of the Angels – like in Berlin and London: Drivers can get a charge from a streetlight.

And there may be new technologies that could help, exciting electric vehicle experts and enthusiasts alike. That could include the roads themselves charging electric vehicles through a magnetizable concrete technology being tested in Indiana other Detroit. And bidirectional charging, where, similar to solar panels, drivers can put their electricity back to the grid, or perhaps even to another EV, through what’s known as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). nissan passed technology for its Leaf model this month.

An artist's rendering shows a white truck driving along a highway with an internal structure to drive a load.
Magnetizable concrete could charge electric vehicle batteries as they drive. Photographer: MAGMENT/HOLCIM LTD

Prochazka said he envisioned a future in which cities rely on excess electric vehicle charging when power demand rises, rather than polluting peaking plants that are currently on to boost supply. “We haven’t even scratched the surface of the opportunities that will exist once we have a two-way event,” Prochazka said.

Experts hope these advances will help bridge the gap in historically unconnected areas, such as rural communities and communities of color. But first, planners should listen: While extensive community engagement trials in states like Arizonathe local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Indiana accused the state’s draft plan of excluding black communities.

“The more input the community has on where these chargers go, how they are used and how they are designed,” Melendez Martineau said, “the better they will serve the community.”

Still, the US seems significantly more ready to go electrified now than it was six months ago, says Dale Hall, a senior researcher focusing on electric vehicles in the International Council on Clean Transport (TICT).

He says that the private sector, which is behind much of the charging infrastructure, is moving forward with clear signs of support from the public sector. Stronger local policies or cutting-edge technology will only help dictate the speed of that transition, Hall added.

He believes the Biden administration’s goal for shippers is achievable. “The business case is going to continue to improve.”


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