No matter which side of the political aisle you happen to fall on, there’s little denying the absolute momentum of interest and adoption for electric vehicles in the United States. From record-breaking EV startup IPO’s like Rivian to the ever-dramatic, and ever-innovative trillion-dollar valued Tesla, there seems to be no stopping our collective forward march toward an electric vehicle renaissance.
As the $1.2 trillion dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act finally winds its way to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature into law, crucial elements of this massive spending package are beginning to come to light. Although we may think of infrastructure spending in terms of roads, bridges, and railways (which is where most of the money is going), one of the biggest elements of this new recording-breaking spending plan is a significant increase in the total number of EV charging plugs.
Although it was whittled down from $15 billion dollars to $7.5 billion, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is designed to increase electric vehicle charging locations across the entire United States by building a first-of-its-kind national charging network. The high-level goal of this plan is to increase the adoption of electric vehicles by reducing the perceived inconvenience of charging up your car and eliminating range anxiety, along with lowering the cost of purchasing a new or used EV.
So, is this new boost of funding for EV infrastructure just what we need to move towards an electric future?
How Does Our EV Infrastructure Look Now?
Right now, we have a distinct mash-up of chargers, technologies, and companies that are drastically altering how we power up our electric vehicles.
To further confuse this complicated topic, the term “charging port” and “charging station” are often interchanged but they are not the same thing. There are currently 43,000 charging stations in the United States and over 120,000 charging ports spread out amongst stations, homes, businesses, and public locations across our nation.
Types Of Stations
There are a wide variety of charging stations available across the United States that either use a combination of connector types, or are specifically designed for one OEM (such as Tesla):
Charging Station Types
This graphic from the Alternative Fuels Data Center does a great job of showing a typical public charging station layout:
Station Location: Think of a station location as a hub of EVSE ports where multiple vehicles can be charged at one time. These are commonly located in places like a shopping center or a public park.
EVSE Port: EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) ports provide energy to charge one vehicle at a time, but may have multiple connectors.
Connector: Connectors, or plugs, is what is plugged into a vehicle to charge it. There are several types of connectors available on a single EVSE port, but only one vehicle will charge at a time.
What Changes Under The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?
EV Charging Station Build Out
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $7.5 Billion to “build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers” and in addition, the Biden administration has also set aggressive goals for 40% of all new vehicles sold in the United States to be electric by the year 2030. In order to achieve these lofty goals, a combination of effective infrastructure roll out and price / tax incentives for electric vehicles is needed to really move the needle.
To be a practical solution for gas powered vehicles over long distances, chargers located along our vast network of highways need to be Level 3, fast charging DC chargers. These highway bound chargers are in addition to the thousands needed in urban areas where the majority of the U.S. population lives, works, and plays. Level 3 stations that can charge a battery in a similar time frame to a gasoline fill up are $40,000 to $100,000 each and require a specific power supply that isn’t always available, especially in rural communities. Experts in the field remark that the funding, strategically spent, can have a major impact - even if it’s less than some lawmakers hoped for.
EV Tax Credits
In addition to the increased spending on EV infrastructure, the “Build Back Better” plan includes massive EV tax credits of up to $12,500 each and expands these credits to not only new EVs but used ones as well. Although not included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, these proposed rebates should go a long way towards EV adoption rates, and pair up perfectly with the proposed expansion of our charging network. Plans to pass the “Build Back Better” plan are slated for late 2021, early 2022.
What Does It Mean For Consumers?
Grant money is allocated by state population, with larger states seeing the biggest impact. Rural and low income areas will receive special consideration via a $2.5 billion competitive grant program that allows more discretion over spending. According to Jeff Davis, a senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, we could start seeing formal announcements by April 2022 and project movement by Summer of 2022.
Looks like 2022 could be a landmark year for electric vehicles and more people than ever will likely be plugging in.