Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm recently announced the creation of a national EV charging network with $5 billion in funding to be distributed to states. The network will prioritize charging stations along highways, giving EV drivers the ability to travel long distances without worrying about access to charging. The funding comes from the bipartisan infrastructure legislation that passed last year.
The federal government’s goal is to have charging available on highways every 50 miles or less with at least four CCS charging stations at each location that can charge at 150 kw or faster. Chargers should be no more than one mile from the highway. There are still many details to be addressed in additional guidance, including how payments will be accepted (i.e. will they all take credit cards?) Broadly speaking, we are pleased that the federal government has bought into the PIA vision that we need minimum standards for the national charging network that provides EV drivers with a uniform and consumer-friendly experience from coast to coast.
Compare the current patchwork public EV charging experience (for non-Tesla drivers) with the experience of buying gasoline. We are not big fans of buying gasoline, of course, but gas stations have done a good job of creating a consumer-friendly and very uniform buying experience. Gas stations always take major credit cards. They might have an affinity card or membership, but it’s optional. The price is always posted. There are always multiple functioning pumps and waiting times are generally pretty modest.
Currently, the Tesla Supercharger network is certainly the benchmark for EV charging. We’d like to see a national EV charging network that is at least as convenient as using the Tesla network or buying gas—or maybe better.
Plug In America Executive Director Joel Levin attended the announcement in Washington, D.C. last week at the invitation of the Department of Transportation. It was a good opportunity to for us to continue pushing for the rights of EV drivers and we are happy to report that they were very receptive. We will keep you posted as the plans for the national EV charging network continue to develop in the coming months.