Time lapse of a highway at night.
Photo: Florian Steciuk/Unsplash

Biden wants to free you from range anxiety

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Good morning and a happy Friday to you! The Biden administration announced details of a major investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure that may finally make you want to buy the zero-carbon car of your dreams. I’m Brian Kahn, and I did my first handstand of my adult life this week. You just have to trust the process!

A long road ahead

I live in New York (just don’t call me a New Yorker. Please, I’m begging you) and love the subway. But having a car to get to Jones Beach or the Catskills for a weekend would be nice. As a climate person, it’d be even nicer if it were an electric one.

But the charging infrastructure here — and indeed, across the U.S. — is severely lacking. I have what some (me) are calling preemptive range anxiety. But thankfully Joe Biden could help cure me and the millions of other Americans in the same boat.

The Biden administration is plunging $5 billion into EV charging infrastructure. To spur EV adoption, Joe Biden promised to get the U.S. to 500,000 charging stations by 2030. And now, he’s putting some decent coin behind that thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed last year.

  • The $5 billion — which was included in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — will be spread out over five years, with funds available this fiscal year.
  • The Department of Transportation also has another $2.5 billion care of the same legislation to help electrification efforts in rural and disadvantaged communities. The goal is to make it so you’re never more than 50 miles from a charging station.
  • On the same day as the announcement, the White House also hosted the CEO of Tritium, an Aussie company opening a manufacturing plant in Tennessee that could crank out 30,000 chargers a year.

For the range-phobes among us, that’s great news. I can feel the range anxiety melting away just citing these dollar amounts. And I know I’m not alone in worrying about running out of juice on a dark, deserted highway.

  • A staggering 23% of Americans surveyed last year by Morning Consult said the minimum range they would want for an EV is 500 miles or more.
  • That’s enough to get me to Montreal for a superior bagel (sorry, but it’s true) and most of the way back.
  • Is this a silly fear? Of course. The average American drives less than 40 miles a day. But then I’m also terrified of snakes. Fears aren’t rational.

Charging is only one piece of the EV puzzle, and $5 billion is just a down payment. The Zero Emission Transportation Association projects that the U.S. needs $30 billion over the next decade to build out a successful national charging network. And that’s just step one.

  • The country also needs to invest in fast charging “Level 3” chargers (think Tesla superchargers) that can top up batteries to 80% in as little as 20 minutes.
  • The Biden administration’s EV goals could also be more aggressive. Right now, it wants half of all new cars sold in 2030 to be clean cars. The International Energy Agency, however, found that the internal combustion engine must go the way of the dinosaur by 2035 to meet the world’s climate targets, meaning 60% of new vehicles bought in 2030 globally need to be electric.
  • Build Back Better’s death is clearly a drag on being more ambitious, though. The bill — killed by one Joe Manchin and 50 Senate Republicans — included more money for charging as well as generous tax credits for EVs that would also make them more appealing.
  • But it’s not just about money. Evergreen Action has a list of strong rules and regulations that could help speed up EV adoption as well.
  • More than 20% of new cars sold in the U.K. and Europe were electric in December 2021. Are we really going to let France beat the land of freedom fries?

States have until Aug. 1 to submit their plans for how they’ll spend their allocation of the $5 billion this year. Gov. Kathy Hochul, if you’re reading this, hit me up. Happy to suggest a handful of prime locations for where you could put a few chargers.

— Brian Kahn (email | twitter)

On the calendar

The dawn of the tech union

What are the key drivers at play leading tech workers to form unions? What does this mean for employers? How can companies better adapt to the needs of their workers? Protocol's Anna Kramer will chat with tech unions about their needs, companies about their strategies at the bargaining table and labor experts about how workers and employers can best collaborate at 10 a.m. PT Feb. 22. RSVP here.

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Samba TV operates the world’s largest independent source of first party connected TV data helping brands, agencies and content owners to plan, buy and measure all in one place. The State of Viewership report offers the industry’s most accurate insights into television viewing and advertising engagement. Download the report at www.samba.tv

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People are talking

Elon Musk said his plans to use Starship to get to Mars feel more urgent than ever:

  • “We need to seize the opportunity and do it as quickly as possible. I want to be frank: Civilization is feeling a little fragile these days.”

Kantar’s Jed Meyer said crypto firms will use the Super Bowl to set themselves apart:

  • “They’re going to try to persuade me, either through their pitch people or through their messaging, that I want to pick them.”

Marc Andreessen has a (now-deleted) reason for not wearing Patagonia vests:

  • “I only wear vests from companies that like my kind.”

Stacy Spikes thinks MoviePass is ready to return to the theater business:

  • “We think we have a chance in the market.”

Ned Segal said Twitter needs to do more to keep creators on the platform:

  • “A lot of [creators] are on Twitter. They come to Twitter, and they build their audience and then they go somewhere else to monetize it. We need to do a better job of helping them stay on Twitter.”

Making moves

Binance is investing $200 million in Forbes. But there’s a twist: Just over a year ago, the crypto company filed a defamation suit against the publisher.

AMD’s deal with Xilinx is happening. The $35 billion acquisition was cleared by Chinese regulators late last month.

Andreessen Horowitz is betting big on metaverse real estate. It led a $60 million funding round into a metaverse real estate company called Everyrealm.

Wordle is officially with The New York Times. It now lives here.

Sarah Kemp is Intel’s new VP of International Government Affairs. Kemp previously led global women’s health policy and ESG strategy at Organon.

Steven Rodgers is retiring as Intel’s general counsel. Susie Giordano will fill in while Intel looks for a replacement.

In other news

Affirm spoiled its own quarterly earnings. The company had a mixed quarter, but accidentally tweeted some of its results before officially announcing them. Which is ... not how you're supposed to present earnings.

OnlyFans is doing NFT profile pictures. Users can update their profile picture with an NFT, like people do on Twitter and Reddit, but it has to be on the Ethereum blockchain.

Tesla is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit. A civil rights agency is alleging the company’s factory in Fremont is a "racially segregated workplace."

Eileen Gu tried to defend internet freedom in China, and it backfired. China is embracing the U.S.-born skier as a member of the Chinese Olympic team, but others say Gu doesn’t fully understand the realities of internet censorship in the country.

The number of women and Black employees increased at Netflix in 2021. The company also reported an uptick in the number of Black leaders, although the percentage of U.S. Hispanic or Latinx leadership only rose slightly.

The Tesla recalls keep rolling in. Now almost 579,000 vehicles are being recalled because of a “Boombox” feature that could make it harder for drivers to hear pedestrian warnings.

AirTag users will get new warnings when they set up their device. The warnings will remind people that AirTags are meant to track personal items, not people, in a push to stop people from stalking.

YouTube is focusing on creators, doubling down on its monetization options and putting emphasis on short-form and live video.

Former Apple employees are called “associates.” Ex-employees said that can be problematic, especially for former workers who held job titles representing high levels of expertise.

The weirdest work Slack channels

A couple days ago, Protocol’s Workplace team came across this tweet about a Slack channel called “YELLING,” where EVERYONE TALKS LIKE THIS. It took less than a day before Protocol started one, too, and IT’S REALLY OVERWHELMING. But it’s also wacky and fun, and we want to know about more channels like it.

Does your work have a weird Slack channel? Do you have a channel dedicated entirely to plants? What about a steady stream of emoji-only communication? How about a channel where you only talk about your favorite fidget products? Respond to this email and let us know!

A MESSAGE FROM SAMBA TV

Samba TV operates the world’s largest independent source of first party connected TV data helping brands, agencies and content owners to plan, buy and measure all in one place. The State of Viewership report offers the industry’s most accurate insights into television viewing and advertising engagement. Download the report at www.samba.tv

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you Sunday.

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