With plans to eliminate the country’s carbon footprint by 2050, Joe Biden could easily be the greenest president in American history. But achieving such a flashy goal will involve plenty of work in much more mundane areas, like having enough spots to charge a rapidly growing fleet of electric vehicles.
Even with 1.8 million battery-powered cars already on US roads, there are only about 100,000 charging plugs for them at around 41,000 public station locations. That disparity makes it easy to see how range anxiety — or the fear of running out of juice without a charging spot nearby — is one of the biggest hurdles for consumers considering a clean car.
President Biden has pledged to build 500,000 new plugs over the next decade, in an effort to cut emissions from highways that are currently the single largest source of carbon emissions. To get there — and to reach a fully electric future — five experts and industry leaders say the country will need an aggressive infrastructure plan and an array of green policies to go along with it.
The number of EVs in the US may balloon to 35 million by 2030, requiring more than 2 million public chargers, The Brattle Group, an economics consulting firm, projects. With such a boom on the horizon, charging operators are excited about the prospect of a multibillion-dollar federal investment in charging infrastructure that could give a jolt to the EV transition that’s already underway.
“This industry is happening. The question is how much more quickly can it happen,” Jonathan Levy, chief commercial officer at the fast-charging firm EVgo, said in an interview. “What we’re really excited about is the Biden administration recognizing that this is going to happen the world over, and if the US wants to lead, there’s going to have to be more federal policy support to help make that happen.”
But Biden’s plan — and, ultimately, any congressional action — could take many shapes. Industry leaders and policy experts are divided on how best to make it happen.