WASHINGTON — Electric vehicle charging stations built with federal dollars must be located every 50 miles along Interstates, fast-charging cars and located no more than a mile from a major highway, under new rules proposed Thursday by the Biden administration.
“EV drivers should be confident that they can easily find a place to charge anywhere,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters on Wednesday.
Mr Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm outlined the proposed regulation, which is designed to ensure rural areas and low-service communities have the same access to electric charging stations as more urbanized areas already have access.
The new standards are part of the Biden administration’s effort to drive widespread adoption of zero-emission cars, with the goal of having half of all new vehicles in the United States electric by 2030.
A critical year for electric vehicles
While the general car market is stagnating, the popularity of battery-powered cars is rising worldwide.
Under the proposed new rule, states would be required to provide at least four of the fastest charging ports, known as DirectCurrent fast chargers, at every charging station so that multiple drivers can connect at the same time.
Mr Buttigieg said the plan will send “a market signal” to companies building charging stations to provide a standard facility suitable for all models of electric and zero-emission vehicles. Along I-95 in the northeast, many rest areas are equipped with chargers suitable only for Tesla vehicles.
Under the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Biden last year, the government would provide $7.5 billion to states to create a network of charging stations for electric vehicles.
In a proposed regulation notice released Thursday, the government said it would prohibit charging stations built with federal dollars from requiring paid memberships. Charging stations should also use mobile apps to provide real-time information on prices and port availability.
Biden administration officials have pointed to electric vehicles as a response to rising gas prices; electric cars are generally much cheaper to run than petrol-powered cars. The government is also promoting electric vehicles as a way to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil and combat climate change.
While electric vehicle sales are robust and many manufacturers now have waiting lists for new vehicles, the initial sticker price and concerns about sufficient charging points are seen as barriers to greater consumer adoption.
Administration officials said they believe the hurdle to the charging station is on the way to being resolved. Mr Biden has set a goal of building 500,000 charging stations nationwide by 2030.
A senior government official said on Wednesday that internal models showed the $7.5 billion in the infrastructure bill was enough to meet and potentially exceed Mr Biden’s target.
Ms Granholm said the standards proposed on Thursday should reassure motorists that they can charge anywhere.
“If we want to build infrastructure like we haven’t since the Eisenhower era, we have to do it right,” she said.
Making electric vehicles more affordable will be harder for the Biden administration to tackle. Tax credits of up to $12,500 for consumers who buy electric vehicles are in limbo on Capitol Hill. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III, whose vote his party must get to approve the measure, has called electric vehicle discounts “ridiculous” as there are currently waiting lists for some vehicles.
Electric vehicle sales now make up 4.6 percent of new purchases in the United States. Ms Granholm noted that electric vehicle sales doubled last year and are on track to double again in 2022, despite supply chain problems and semiconductor shortages.
The GOP has portrayed the Biden administration as deaf to the issue and pushing for more expensive electric cars at a time when Americans are suffering from inflation. When, in March, Mr. Buttigieg noted the savings on gasoline that driving an electric vehicle can bring, Republicans struck.
“Tell me you’re a liberal elite without telling me you’re a liberal elite,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted.