Give the Green Light to Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Give the Green Light to Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

This piece was originally published in the May/June 2019 issue of electroindustry.

Sen. Tom Carper, U.S. Senator, D-Delaware

Global electric vehicle manufacturing is booming, and the automobile industry tells us this is just the beginning. While this is a positive development for clean air and our collective efforts to address climate change, without federal support to spur consumer demand for these vehicles, American drivers, workers, and automakers might not see the full benefits of this technology domestically. That’s because the electric car future lies in making sure that these cars can get the power they need, and right now, the United States is falling short of seizing the tremendous opportunity before us to put America back into the driver’s seat of the world’s clean energy economy.

China is driving to dominate an electrified future, and the Chinese are not looking in the rearview mirror. If trends continue, China could account  for half of the global electric vehicle market share by 2025. More than one million electric vehicles were sold in China in 2018, and sales are on track to almost double in 2019. And it’s not just China. Economists project that by 2035, all new cars sold in Europe will be electric. Meanwhile, Chinese and European auto companies are reaping the massive rewards of ambitious campaigns and increasing demand for cleaner cars.

So with our technological prowess and world- class workforce, why is the United States stuck in the slow lane? Unlike China, our country has yet to build the charging infrastructure needed to support growth in this market. At the end of 2018, there were fewer than 68,000 fast-charging public charging points built here in the U.S., while China had in place almost five times that amount.

On our highways, petroleum-based fueling stations are rarely farther than the next exit. In comparison, for electric vehicle owners needing to charge away from home, charging stations are too few and far between, which means that many American consumers are hesitant to purchase cars that could leave them stranded before their destination. When drivers fuel up—whether at a gas station or an electric car charging port—they need to feel confident that their vehicle can go the distance.

In March, I introduced legislation that would address this “range anxiety” problem head-on. The Clean Corridors Act (S. 674) would create a 10-year grant program that would invest $3 billion in the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along designated corridors within our National Highway System. It would help ensure that every driver in America, in every region, has greater access to charging and fueling stations for their electric

This legislation has won support from a wide range of stakeholders beyond the environmental community, including the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the Edison Electric Institute, organized labor, and transportation organizations like the American Highway Users Alliance.

This Congress, as we work on the Environment and Public Works Committee to reauthorize our transportation programs, it is essential we rebuild and modernize our roads, highways, bridges, and transit system to withstand the worsening impacts of climate change and support the vehicles of the future. By expanding and improving access to electric and hydrogen fuel stations with legislation like the Clean Corridors Act, we can increase consumer demand for these vehicles, while reducing air pollution and ensuring that these cars of the future are built right here in America. That’s something that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents should support.

We have a great opportunity before us, and we can’t let it pass us by. ei

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