By Jarrett Renshaw
(Reuters) – Armed with billions of dollars, the Biden administration is embarking on the biggest transformation of the U.S. consumer driving landscape in generations, hoping to blanket the nation’s highways with electric vehicle chargers .
The goal is to grow the national network of chargers to 500,000, including high-speed chargers – no more than 50 kilometers apart – on about 75,000 kilometers of the busiest highways and interstates of the nation. The chargers are a critical piece of President Joe Biden’s climate policy and his goal of making 50% of all new US vehicle sales electric by 2030.
THE REVOLUTION WILL BE ACCESSIBLE
All electric vehicle models will be able to charge in federally funded chargers, including, for the first time in the United States, Tesla’s SuperChargers. Consumers will also enjoy universal payment and identification methods.
Federally funded chargers must be placed within a mile of state-designated electric vehicle corridors. Reuters examined dozens of state applications for this funding and spoke with a host of federal, local and business officials involved in the projects, to get a picture of how this new network could reshape the country.
A nationwide network of EV racers https://www.reuters.com/graphics/USA-BIDEN/AUTOS-ELECTRIC%20VEHICLES/zdpxdnlqlpx/graphic.jpg
SITE, SITE, SITE
State EV corridors feature some of the nation’s busiest roads, including I-95 from Maine to Florida (1,924 miles), I-5 from Washington to California (1,381 miles) and I-90 stretching from Boston to Seattle (3,021 miles) .
Where, exactly, the chargers will be located, what powers them, who builds them and what drivers do while their cars are charging could change the fate of businesses, cities and utilities and have repercussions around the globe.
There is no guarantee that they will be located in existing mass service stations. Surveys conducted by states show that consumers want amenities — think manicures, showers and food — while they wait 20 to 40 minutes to charge their vehicle.
One state where it is unlikely to find federally funded chargers is Wyoming, which has told the administration that it is too rural and that the chargers will simply be idle for lack of demand. “Wyoming has no desire to establish infrastructure that will likely fail,” the state said in its plan.
AT THE END OF 5 MINUTES FUEL STOP
Federal guidelines on the EV charging network require certain basic services, such as proper lighting, restrooms and signage, but states give preference to applicants that offer a wider menu of options, such as and long-term dining and services such as barbering or manicures.
“We know this is going to be transformative and people want amenities, so we built it into the scoring system,” said Preeti Choudhary, executive director of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s smart mobility arm.
MAD DASH FOR DOLLARS
The first tranche, $1.5 billion of $7.5 billion to finance the charger network, will go to the states this year. Companies like ChargePoint Holdings Inc, EVgo Inc and Tesla are expected to battle for the money.
Ohio is among the only states that have already started looking for proposals. In many cases, candidates are expected to pair with several companies on a proposal in an effort to expand the amenity offerings. The state received 167 site proposals from 30 different teams, officials told Reuters.
Republican governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas have accused Democrats of overspending in Washington, but state applications show they have welcomed federal dollars to build their EV networks.
Florida, which lags behind only California in terms of electric vehicles and high-speed chargers, told the administration that in a moderate growth scenario, officials expect at least 20 percent of vehicles in the state they will be electric by 2040.
“Even a conservative rate of adoption of EVs will require intensive construction of charging infrastructure,” Florida said.
In oil-rich Texas, state officials told the administration, “the network will give Electric Vehicle drivers confidence and flexibility when traveling for work, recreation or exploration regardless of distance traveled or weather conditions “.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Heather Timmons and Claudia Parsons)