Biden Tackles Range Anxiety at Electric Vehicle Charge Event (1)
- Administration touts EVs as gas prices hit another high
- New rule will streamline charger pricing, access
(Adds Rep. Dingell statement in final paragraphs.)
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Electric vehicles from Tesla Inc., Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Co. were in the spotlight as the Biden administration showcased its efforts to transition the nation’s fleet away from gas-powered cars while quelling concern about range and cost.
“We know we have charging deserts right now and we can’t do that, we can’t leave communities behind,” David Turk, deputy secretary of the Department of Energy, said Thursday at the Charging Forward event at Department of Transportation headquarters.
The Biden administration is hoping a new set of standards released Thursday can convince a broader and more diverse swath of the public to purchase electric vehicles. DOT’s proposed rule aims to ensure states deploy chargers with similar payment systems, pricing information, and charging speeds.
Previously: Biden Officials Plan Electric Vehicle Equity, Charging Event
“The standards ensure that use of the chargers is not restricted through membership, clubs, and other closed EV charging networks that require membership payments or juggling multiple apps,” said Stephanie Pollack, deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
The rule would make sure EV chargers funded with federal dollars can charge a variety of EVs, including models from Tesla, Ford, GM, and Stellantis NV, according to a DOT fact sheet.
The Biden administration is ramping up its electric-vehicle efforts as it aims to reach its lofty goal of deploying 500,000 chargers across the country by 2030. The infrastructure law (Public Law 117-58) included $7.5 billion for charging stations, and states need to submit electric-vehicle charging plans to access the bulk of those funds.
Read more: US Agency Proposes Standards for Network of EV Charging Stations
Pollack said the states now have “everything they need” to submit plans to the department by August 1. FHWA is reviewing them on a rolling basis and will allow states to start spending money as soon as plans are approved, she said.
Pollack said chargers need to be distributed every 50 miles along highways, and no more than a mile off the highway, with some exceptions for rural states. But federal law still limits commerce at interstate rest stops to vending machines, lottery tickets, and tourism promotion.
Read more: Biden’s $5 Billion EV Charger Plan Skips Interstate Rest Stops
“We’ve tried to be as creative as we can,” Pollack told reporters about the rest stop prohibition. “Maybe not in a rest area, but maybe in a park-and-ride, and then we have a mile from all of the exits, so we’re very aware that we have to work within the parameters Congress gave us.”
The push for adoption of electric vehicles comes as the administration deals with criticism that gas prices are spiking. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $4.97 as of Thursday, another record, according to AAA.
Turk said one fill-up of an electric vehicle saves an average of $60 compared to an internal combustion engine. But he said the administration is still working to get a new electric vehicle tax credit through Congress, which has stalled as part of broader Democrats’ Build Back Better plan.
“We’re trying to make EVs cheaper and cheaper,” Turk said. “I’m confident we will get that additional piece of legislation.”
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), whose state is home to significant auto manufacturing, called the new standards “a critical step.”
“To be clear, this is just the beginning. The United States will need to take continued and aggressive actions to ensure electric vehicle are affordable, made in America—with domestic critical minerals and robust supply chains—and receive boosts in R&D funding,” she added in a statement.
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