Full analysis: Massive US EV infrastructure plan

The White House has announced a huge financial boost, new standards, and major progress for a made-in-America national network of EV chargers to support the future of US EV charging
Air Quality & Weather Systems / February 21, 2023
By James Foster
© Rangizzz | Dreamstime.com
(© Rangizzz | Dreamstime.com)

The Biden-Harris Administration has this week announced its latest set of actions which it says are aimed at creating "a convenient, reliable and Made-in-America electric vehicle charging network so that the great American road trip can be electrified."

These steps are designed to help the US meet ambitious goals to confront the climate crisis, by building a national network of 500,000 EV chargers along America’s highways and in communities and have EVs make up at least 50% of new car sales by 2030, all while advancing an industrial strategy to continue to build-out the domestic EV and EV charging industry. The path to net-zero emissions by 2050 is creating good-paying manufacturing and installation jobs on the way.   

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests US$7.5bn in EV charging, US$10bn in clean transportation, and over US$7bn in EV battery components, critical minerals, and materials. These flagship programmes complement the Inflation Reduction Act’s landmark support for advanced batteries and new and expanded tax credits for purchases of EVs and to support installations of charging infrastructure, as well as dozens of other federal initiatives designed to drive domestic manufacturing and build a national network of EV charging. The result is that the future of American transportation is on track to be cleaner, safer, more affordable, and more reliable than ever before. 

EV sales in the US have tripled and the number of publicly available charging ports has grown by at least 40% since President Biden took office in January, 2021 the White House statement pointed out. There are now more than three million EVs on the road and over 130,000 public chargers across the country. Further accelerating the buildout of a convenient, reliable charging network is critically important to make electric vehicle charging a seamless experience. Companies including Tesla, General Motors, EVgo, Pilot, Hertz and BP, among others, are announcing new commitments to expand their networks by thousands of public charging ports in the next two years, using private funds to complement federal dollars and putting the nation’s EV charging goals even closer within reach.  


What is involved in the new EV initiative?

The Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Department of Energy, finalised new standards to make charging EVs convenient and reliable for all Americans, including when driving long distances. The new standards will ensure everyone can use the network – no matter what car they drive or which state they charge in. The standards also require strong workforce standards.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) outlined its final plan for compliance with the Build America, Buy America Act for federally funded EV chargers. Effective immediately, all EV chargers funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law must be built in the United States. The plan requires that, effective immediately, final assembly and all manufacturing processes for any iron or steel charger enclosures or housing occur in the United States.  By July 2024, at least 55% of the cost of all components will need to be manufactured domestically as well.

The new Joint Office of Energy and Transportation released a notice of intent to issue a funding opportunity for its Ride and Drive Electric research and development programme. This programme will advance the goal of building a national network of EV chargers by supporting EV charging reliability, resiliency, equity, and workforce development;

The Department of Energy yesterday announced US$7.4m in funding for seven projects to develop innovative medium-and heavy-duty EV charging and hydrogen corridor infrastructure plans serving millions of Americans across 23 states.

FHWA announced details for its soon-to-launch Charging and Fuelling Infrastructure (CFI) discretionary grant programme. The programme will make available more than US$2.5bn over five years – including US$700m in funding through the first round of funding available to states, localities, Tribes, territories, and public authorities – to deploy publicly accessible charging and alternative fuelling infrastructure in communities across the country, including at schools, grocery stores, parks, libraries, apartment complexes, and everywhere else Americans live and work.

The Administration highlighted major manufacturing and other new facilities spurred by these investments and the Administration’s Made in America policies, including new commitments from domestic EV charging manufacturers and network operators.

These announcements build on the well-over US$100bn that the private sector has invested in electric vehicle, battery, and EV charging manufacturing in the United States to date. The announcements are evidence of the President’s successful industrial strategy, ensuring that federal funds are attracting private investment to ensure the clean energy transition is powered by American manufacturing and good-paying union jobs. Combined with investments in battery manufacturing and tax credits for electric vehicle purchases and charging infrastructure driven by the Inflation Reduction Act, these are key to achieving the Administration’s climate goals.


Accessible, reliable, convenient, user-friendly 

To ensure ready access to charging and spur good manufacturing jobs at home, President Biden has publicly committed to building out a convenient, reliable, and user-friendly national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.  In support of this vision, the Department of Transportation announced the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure programme (NEVI), a US$5bn initiative to create a coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle chargers focused on major highways that support the majority of long-distance trips.  This national network will give drivers confidence they can always find a place to charge, jump start private investment in charging infrastructure and electric vehicles, and support the President’s goal of at least 50% of vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.


What are the new national standards for EV chargers?

Yesterday, FHWA, with support from the Joint Office, unveiled new national standards for federally funded EV chargers, including NEVI-funded chargers. All 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico are participating in the NEVI programme and initial investments will electrify over 75,000 miles of the national highway system. These standards will direct federal dollars to build out a national EV charging network that is user-friendly, reliable, and accessible so that charging is as easy as filling up at a gas station. Until now, there were no comprehensive standards for the installation, operation, or maintenance of EV charging stations, and disparities exist among EV charging stations in key areas, such as connector types, payment methods, data privacy, speed and power of chargers, reliability, and the overall user experience. A recent survey of EV users reported frustration with chargers that are too slow, too crowded, or that just don’t work. 

The White House says the FHWA’s new standards will fix this: 
•    The standards will ensure that charging is a predictable and reliable experience, by ensuring that there are consistent plug types, power levels, and a minimum number of chargers capable of supporting drivers’ fast charging needs
•    Chargers are working when drivers need them to, by requiring a 97% uptime reliability requirement; drivers can easily find a charger when they need to, by providing publicly accessible data on locations, price, availability, and accessibility through mapping applications
•    Drivers do not have to use multiple apps and accounts to charge, by requiring that a single method of identification works across all chargers
•    Chargers will support drivers’ needs well into the future, by requiring compatibility with forward-looking capabilities like Plug and Charge

The standards will also help to ensure that these historic investments in EV charging create good-paying jobs and that EV chargers are well-serviced by requiring strong workforce standards such as Registered Apprenticeships and the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP). Through the White House Talent Pipeline Challenge, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has certified 20,000 electricians through EVITP.

Together, the standards will ensure that chargers operated by different networks operate similarly and provide the travelling public with a predictable EV charging experience – no matter what car they drive or what state they charge in.


How will this accelerate the build-out of EV charging networks

The US Administration’s actions on EVs have spurred network operators to accelerate the buildout of coast-to-coast EV charging networks. 

Public dollars will supplement private investment by filling gaps, serving rural and hard to reach locations, and building capacity in communities. Announcements being spotlighted yesterday will add more than 100,000 public chargers available for all EVs, and include:
Tesla, for the first time, will open a portion of its US Supercharger and Destination Charger network to non-Tesla EVs, making at least 7,500 chargers available for all EVs by the end of 2024. The open chargers will be distributed across the United States. They will include at least 3,500 new and existing 250 kW Superchargers along highway corridors to expand freedom of travel for all EVs, and Level 2 Destination Charging at locations like hotels and restaurants in urban and rural locations.  All EV drivers will be able to access these stations using the Tesla app or website. Additionally, Tesla will more than double its full nationwide network of Superchargers, manufactured in Buffalo, New York.

Hertz and BP are announcing their intention to build out a national network of EV fast charging infrastructure to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

The two companies intend to bring charging infrastructure to Hertz locations across America, including major cities such as Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, New York City, Orlando, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The charging hubs will serve rideshare and taxi drivers, car rental customers and the general public at high-demand locations, such as airports. A number of installations are expected to include large-scale charging hubs, known as “gigahubs.” BP aims to invest $1 billion in EV charging in the US by 2030. Hertz’s objective is to make one-quarter of its fleet electric by the end of 2024.

Pilot Company, General Motors, and EVgo have partnered to build a coast-to-coast network of 2,000 high power 350 kW fast chargers at Pilot and Flying J travel centres along American highways. The nationwide network of up to 500 travel centres will enable long distance EV travel by connecting urban and rural communities. Yesterday, the companies are announcing that the first 200+ chargers in this network are expected to be available for use by drivers this year.

TravelCenters of America and Electrify America announced that they will offer electric vehicle charging at select Travel Centers of America and Petro locations, with a goal of installing approximately 1,000 EV chargers at 200 locations along major highways over the next five years.

Electrify America recently held the official groundbreaking of Electrify America Solar Glow 1, the new 75 MW solar PV project in San Bernardino County, CA to help back all energy delivered to EV drivers with renewable energy across more than 800 DC fast charging stations nationwide.  

Mercedes-Benz, ChargePoint, and MN8 Energy announced a partnership to deploy over 400 charging hubs with more than 2,500 publicly accessible DC fast charging ports across the US and Canada.

ChargePoint, Volvo Cars, and Starbucks announced a partnership to deploy 60 DC fast chargers at up to 15 locations along the 1,350-mile pilot route between Seattle and Denver to be completed by summer 2023.

General Motors, in partnership with Flo, has announced a collaborative effort with dealers to install up to 40,000 public Level 2 EV chargers in local communities by 2026 through GM’s Dealer Community Charging Program. The new charging stations will join the GM’s Ultium Charge 360 network and will be available to all EV drivers.

Francis Energy, a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based EV charge point operator, is expanding into 40 states this year, with plans to install 50,000 EV charging ports by 2030 in partnership with municipalities, auto dealers, Tribal Nations, and private businesses. Currently 75% of Francis Energy’s network is in Justice40 communities.

Forum Mobility, a zero-emission trucking solutions provider, recently announced a US$400m commitment to deploy over 1,000 DC fast-chargers. The charging infrastructure will serve the thousands of heavy-duty electric trucks projected to begin operating at the San Pedro and Oakland ports in California over the next decade. The community charging depots will create over 600 new union jobs in disadvantaged communities while reducing harmful emissions at the ports and along freight corridors.

Ford has committed to installing at least one public-facing DC Fast charger with two ports at 1,920 Ford dealerships by January 2024.


A 'Made in America' EV future

The Build America, Buy America implementation plan for EV charging equipment reflects the success of the Biden-Harris Administration at spurring new domestic investments in the manufacture of EV fast-charging equipment. The rapidly-expanding industry is ramping up production to make high-quality, Buy America compliant chargers, creating good jobs and helping the Unites States strengthen its leadership in clean energy manufacturing.  That strategy will ensure that electric vehicle chargers purchased through the NEVI programme will be assembled in the United States, effective immediately, and fully compliant with Build America, Buy America requirements for manufactured products by July 1, 2024, to support investments in the supply chain consistent with an aggressive expansion of domestic manufacturing.

Yesterday’s announcement is a tool to promote domestic production. The Build America, Buy America requirements for EV charging equipment will help revitalize our manufacturing base. The phased approach to these requirements will incentivise companies to invest in domestic production of EV charging components, positioning US workers and businesses to compete and lead globally while providing a transition period for companies to onshore their supply chains. 
In order to meet the requirements of the Build America, Buy America Act, domestic manufacturing is ramping up aggressively. The Office of Management and Budget’s new Made in America Office is working with agency experts, labour and industry to implement industrial strategy by incentivising greater US manufacturing in key sectors.

Domestic assembly requirements for electric vehicle charging equipment will be effective immediately. This ensures that all EV charging equipment supported by federal funds supports American jobs and American technological leadership.

FHWA’s Buy America requirements will be effective immediately for EV charger enclosures and housing predominantly of steel or iron. This means that all manufacturing processes for these enclosures, from melting and pouring through the final application of coatings, must occur in the United States. 

Beginning July 1, 2024, FHWA will require that the cost of components manufactured domestically for EV charging equipment must meet the Build America, Buy America Act’s requirement of at least 55% domestic content for manufactured products, consistent with an ambitious build out of this new industry.

To ensure that chargers installed during the bulk of the NEVI programme are fully compliant with the requirement under the Build America, Buy America Act of 55% domestic content, any equipment that does not meet that standard must be installed no later than October 1, 2024.

Federal agencies and states are standing up processes to implement and track Made in America requirements to ensure that federally-funded infrastructure projects use American-made iron, steel, construction materials, and manufactured products. The success in creating an EV charging equipment industry nearly from scratch demonstrates what Made in America policies can do to build a manufacturing base.

The Administration’s economic agenda has ignited a manufacturing boom.  Made in America requirements have already sent a strong signal to the market that federal dollars will be spent on products that are produced and sourced in the United States – and industry has responded. Since the President took office, companies have announced more than US$100bn in manufacturing investments for EVs, batteries and chargers.

A recent report found that private sector investment in EVs and related infrastructure in the United States is now surpassing China and other nations for the first time. Three years ago, there was little American footprint in the advanced EV charging industry. Now, producers are making investments to establish new headquarters, facilities, or production lines to build the next generation of EV chargers in the United States.

For more news and features, go to ITS International's sister platform EV Charging & Infrastructure

For more information on companies in this article