Biden’s massive infrastructure plan gives electric cars a huge boost


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President Joe Biden has made electric vehicle development a priority under a $ 2 trillion infrastructure bill presented by his administration, promising to install 500,000 charging stations across the United States by 2030.

The $ 174 billion plan also includes a host of subsidies for those who buy electric cars and funding to retrofit factories and to boost the domestic supply of batteries, as well as subsidies and incentive programs for infrastructure. charging.

If the bill becomes law, it will represent the government’s largest effort to date to target transportation emissions, which account for 60 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in the United States. It would also be a big step forward towards Biden’s goal of decarbonizing the U.S. economy by 2050.

The new push for electric cars is a U-turn from the policies of Biden’s predecessor. The Trump administration has decided to weaken federal fuel economy rules for cars and light trucks, going so far as to sue the state of California for reaching a voluntary agreement with several automakers to impose its own standards. more stringent.

What is lacking in the proposed legislation, however, is any language on phasing out the sale of cars that run on traditional fuels, a move seen in China and many European countries where the transition to carbon-free transport is beyond far from the efforts in the United States.

Still, the pledge to build half a million stations – increasing tenfold from current US supply – is being made to ease charging anxiety, which most US consumers cite when choose not to buy an electric vehicle for fear of being left stranded when their batteries run out of juice. The new efforts are not just targeting private vehicles. The Biden administration has also pledged to electrify the 600,000 vehicles in the federal fleet – a massive increase from the current 3,000. The infrastructure plan also calls for the electrification of 20% of the nearly 500,000 school buses in service in the United States through a grant program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

But, as most U.S. media have pointed out since the infrastructure bill was unveiled last week, government support for expanding electric vehicle charging alone will not be enough to change. consumer preferences.

Of the 270 million cars, trucks and SUVs that drive America’s roads, just 1% are battery-powered. And despite their rapid growth in popularity in recent years, electric vehicles still only accounted for 2% of sales in the US new car market last year. Electric vehicles typically cost around $ 10,000 more than similar conventional cars and trucks.

Another difficult factor to overcome is the complexity and cost of building the charging network itself. The charger construction industry will likely need federal intervention on licensing and cost-sharing rules for electric vehicle charging stations to remove regulatory bottlenecks at the national and local levels. Chris Nelder, who studies electric grid integration at RMI, an energy and environmental policy organization that promotes clean energy, said The Wall Street Journal.

Building a charging infrastructure is “really slow and very expensive. We need a lot more support, ”Nelder said. “It will take money, it will take authority, it will take leadership and the federal government must intervene.”

In addition, the costs of EV chargers vary depending on the “level” of the charger. The higher the level, the faster the charge and the more expensive it is to install.

“It’s a big pill for anyone to swallow”, Mark Wakefield, managing director and global co-leader in automotive and industrial practice at consulting firm AlixPartners told CNBC. “They’re really, really expensive, especially these fast chargers” – the type some automakers promise will take as little as 10 minutes to charge about 80% of upcoming EVs. This compares to lower level chargers, including household outlets, which take several hours. According to AlixPartners, level three chargers cost an average of $ 120,000 to $ 260,000 installed. “These aren’t cheap,” Wakefield said.

Yet many analysts of electric car supporters in the United States say Biden’s infrastructure plan is just the boost the economy needs to embrace a future for electric vehicles.

“Biden’s plan could help supercharge the market,” Anastasia Amoroso, a strategist in the private banking arm of JP Morgan Chase, told The Wall Street Journal. “The plan sets up appropriate and similar incentives that have helped drive adoption of EVs in Europe and China.”

Car manufacturers see the writing on the wall. General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford Motors have made big promises on electric vehicles, with General Motors planning to go electric by 2035. But they also called on the Biden administration to provide more grants, loans, tax credits and tax deductions to promote research. and manufacturing.

Currently, there are approximately 41,400 electric vehicle charging stations in the United States, according to the Department of Energy. Less than 5,000 are fast chargers. That compares to more than 136,400 gas stations, according to the GasBuddy app.

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