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Washington Watch: EV charging: Biden says he’ll tap infrastructure money to standardize payment methods, fill gaps

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The Biden administration will use funds from the infrastructure law to try to standardize for all users the 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations the president has already pledged, the White House announced Thursday.

Without strong standards, chargers would be less reliable, may not work for all cars, or lack common payment methods, for instance, accepting only certain pre-paid apps at the point of purchase. Chargers must also be accessible no matter which state a driver is in, the Biden team said.

“To support the transition to electric vehicles, we must build a national charging network that makes finding a charge as easy as filling up at a gas station,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, in a release. “These new ground rules will help create a network of EV chargers across the country that are convenient, affordable, reliable and accessible for all Americans.”

The administration is relying on private-sector interests to help build out a network that experts say will have to grow much larger than the 500,000 to ever fully replace gas-powered vehicles. In addition to limitations across payment methods, the EV world currently operates with three standards to charging your vehicle based on varying speed and power.  Many users charge at home overnight, and increasingly, companies are offering charging benefits while at work.

A Consumer Reports survey has shown that vehicle range and availability of charging stations were top among U.S. motorists’ concerns. About half of the drivers surveyed said they would want an EV that could travel more than 300 miles between charges, and a little less than half of those who don’t “definitely” plan to get an EV for their next vehicle say inadequate charging infrastructure is holding them back.

The White House said this move should be accompanied by revived interest in Congress to pass Biden’s plan to provide more robust tax credits that make EVs, including Tesla
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,
Nissan
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+1.93%

and other makers, more affordable. The administration suggests quicker EV adoption will help smooth the uncertainty for household budgets that comes with volatile gas prices
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Biden’s climate-change push via legislation has met with hurdles in a tightly divided Congress, and has lacked the support of select Democrats in states that produce traditional fossil fuels.

Read: Oil prices could go ‘parabolic’, putting global economy in ‘critical situation,’ says Trafigura chief

Republicans are pushing their own energy and climate-change plan, which includes more investment in U.S.-based oil
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and gas production to ease reliance on a global market made more volatile by major-producer Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Read: Solar energy: Biden won’t impose tariffs for 2 years, pushes domestic production

The $7.5 billion for EV charging infrastructure in the bipartisan law will build a “convenient and equitable” charging network through two programs, the White House said.

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program will provide $5 billion in formula funding to states to build out charging infrastructure along highway corridors — filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach locations, while instilling public confidence in charging, the release said.

In addition, a $2.5 billion competitive grant program aims to support community and corridor charging, improve local air quality and increase EV charging access in underserved and overburdened communities, the administration said.

Read: Elon Musk called ESG a scam — did the Tesla chief do investors a favor?

EV sales appear likely to more than triple by 2025. And yet, governments and manufacturers will have to work harder and likely sweeten incentives to spur a strong enough EV-adoption rate to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from road transportation by the middle of this century as pledged, research firm BloombergNEF said in its seventh annual Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook.

BNEF’s analysts declare EVs
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“a remarkable success story.” Accordingly, they predict global plug-in passenger vehicle sales will hit 20.6 million in 2025, much higher than a forecast for 14 million by that target year made just a year ago.

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