The Biden administration's hot electric vehicle summer continues to zip along. On Tuesday, the White House announced $700 million in commitments for EV charging from private companies. The cash will up U.S. charging manufacturing capacity to 250,000 chargers a year and increase the number of chargers out in the wild. Not too bad!
The announcement includes $450 million from Volkswagen and Siemens to backstop the Electrify America charging network. (Fun fact: It’s an outgrowth of Dieselgate.) Siemens represents the first outside investor to put money into the network, and the investment will spur the, in the White House's words, "rapid deployment of up to 10,000 ultra-fast chargers at 1,800 charging stations." Though the deployment doesn't come with a concrete timeline, getting that many fast chargers in the ground could ease range anxiety, a top concern for would-be EV owners.
In addition, Siemens committed $250 million to expand its EV charger manufacturing operations in the U.S. All told, the company plans to crank out 1 million chargers over the next four years. The company and the White House didn't specify how many of those would be fast chargers, but regardless, even slower chargers for home and errands could be key to making sure EV owners can always be on the go without the worry of their cars dying without a charger in sight.
The timing comes a few weeks after the Biden administration announced EV charging standards that could help make a national, more unified network of chargers a reality as opposed to today's piecemeal approach. And hot EV summer will continue into August when states submit plans for how they’ll use the $7.5 billion in EV charging cash available through the bipartisan infrastructure law. That money is meant to spur private investments as well, and it seems to be doing just that. Which hey, isn’t it nice when something works as intended?
The money committed is vital for getting Biden's vision of a 500,000-charger-strong network off the ground, but it's also nowhere near enough for ensuring the end of the internal combustion engine for the sake of the climate. A number of think tanks have modeled what a true EV revolution would take finance-wise, and the answer is billions of dollars a year in sustained investment for at least the next decade.
Beyond charging infrastructure, tax credits and other policy tools are needed to bring down the cost of EVs so they're accessible to all households. Investing in infrastructure like mass transit and bike lanes as well as improving mixed-use zoning so we don't need cars to get everywhere in the first place are also strategies policymakers need to consider in order to help reduce transportation emissions and not put too much strain on the supply chain for critical minerals we'll need as the world electrifies everything. (Oh, and those moves would also improve public health and quality of life.)