Biden sets course for universal chargers for electric vehicles

The Joe Biden administration has a goal related to the decarbonization of transport: by 2030, half of the new cars sold will be either electric or electric hybrids. To get there, it is working to power 500,000 new electric vehicle chargers across the country. The infrastructure package that became law in November included $7.5 billion in federal funding to subsidize the construction of this charging network.

On Thursday, the administration proposed rules that would mean, among other things, that any charging station built with federal money must accommodate any electric car. Which, as any electric vehicle owner can tell you, is not the case today.

Imagine you’re driving and need gas, so you stop at a gas station to find that the pumps don’t fit your car. Or maybe a couple, but they have long lines. This is somewhat the case currently with electric vehicles because there is no standard charger.

“It’s a situation that we would like to move away from,” said Jessika Trancik of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The new rules would mean that all new charging stations built with federal funding would have to be universal, she said.

“It’s really important to know that when you drive up to a charger, you will be able to use it, obviously, and also that chargers will be available at regular intervals throughout your journey.”

Cox Automotive’s Michelle Krebs says having far more chargers than any electric vehicle can use will be key to getting more people to go electric.

“There are three things that stand in the way of mass adoption of EVs: price, range and charging infrastructure,” she said.

This infrastructure has improved a lot. But there are still real obstacles, especially for those without a driveway, said Jeremy Michalek of Carnegie Mellon University. It was him when he first bought an electric car.

“I couldn’t count on being able to charge it every day,” he said. “It depended on whether I had the space in front of my house or not. And I had to run an extension cord up the stairs to plug it in.

Kind of a hard sell. “If you don’t have off-street parking, you should know that you will have access to public chargers and can reliably charge your vehicle,” Michalek said, both near your home and along Highway.

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Denise W. Whigham