The Biden administration wants to see at least 500,000 electric vehicle chargers on US roads by 2030, and on Wednesday announced a list of initiatives to help make that a reality, including commitments from companies that build and operate charging networks such as Tesla, GM, Ford, ChargePoint and others.
All companies can take advantage of federal funding if their planned charging infrastructure projects meet new federal standards, which were also revealed Wednesday.
As part of that effort, President Biden on Wednesday praised Tesla’s commitment to open up thousands of its chargers for third-party electric vehicles. Until now, in the US, Tesla Supercharging stations have been available mainly to drivers of the company’s own cars.
The president wrote on Twitter: “As we build our charging network for electric vehicles, we must ensure that as many chargers as possible work for as many drivers as possible. To this end, @elonmusk will reveal a large part @TeslaNetwork to all drivers. It’s a big deal and it’s going to make a big difference.”
Tesla specifically agreed to make at least 7,500 of its public chargers in the US available for use on any compatible electric vehicle by the end of 2024. That total will include at least 3,500 250-kilowatt Tesla Superchargers located along key highway corridors. like the slower Level 2 chargers the automaker offers in places like hotels and restaurants.
Biden’s nod is significant in part because the CEO of Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX has previously expressed opposition to the president and his policies and accused Biden of ignoring his companies.
Tesla also agreed to triple the number of superchargers on its U.S. network with new chargers to be manufactured in Buffalo, New York, the official said. The company assembles some of its charging equipment at a facility in Buffalo that was originally intended as a solar panel manufacturing plant.
Tesla has been aiming to open its charging network in the US for years. According to Tesla’s latest annual financial report, in November 2021 the company “began offering Supercharger access to third-party vehicles in select locations in support of our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
White House infrastructure chief Mitch Landrieu told reporters on Tuesday that Elon Musk was one of many auto CEOs who participated in discussions with the White House about charging infrastructure last year.
“He was very open, he was very constructive,” Landrieu said. “And at the time he said he intended to work with us to make his network compatible. All other participants in the conversation agreed.”
Landrieu added, “It was very important to us that everyone be included in the conversation.”
The White House also praised other automakers and companies, praising a separate deal between General Motors, Pilot Co. and the EVGo charging network to install 2,000 fast chargers at Pilot and Flying J hubs along US highways.
GM, through a separate partnership with FLO, also plans to install up to 40,000 Level 2 public chargers in US communities by 2026, which will be part of GM’s Ultium Charge 360 network and will be available to all EV drivers.
Ford has committed to installing DC fast chargers in 1,920 of the company’s dealerships by January 2024.
Hertz and oil giant BP’s EV charger plan to install thousands of chargers in major U.S. cities for use by Hertz customers and the general public.
Among the announcements on Wednesday, the energy and transport departments also unveiled new charging standards that “ensure that everyone can use the grid – no matter what car you drive or what condition you’re in.” Requirements include:
- All new chargers manufactured with federal funds must support the Combined Charging System plug standard. The CCS standard is used by most automakers except Tesla.
- New charging sites created with federal funds will be required to have a minimum number of DC fast chargers.
- Once installed, federally funded chargers must be up and running at least 97% of the time.
- Effective immediately, all federally funded chargers must be assembled in the US and their steel housings must be made in the US. By July 2024, at least 55% of charger components (measured by value) must also be made in the US.
- New chargers created with federal funds to be compatible with new convenience technologies like “Plug and Charge,” which, as the name suggests, automates the charging process.
There are also new rules to help ensure that drivers don’t need to use multiple apps to find and use chargers by making charger location, pricing and availability data public and available through display apps.
But in one flaw that will raise questions from staunch environmentalists, the new federally funded electric car chargers won’t necessarily run on clean energy sources.
Officials said it would “depend on the company” whether the federally funded EV chargers run on renewable energy or “clean electricity” or simply plug into the existing electrical grid.
The non-profit International Clean Transportation Council estimates that transportation is responsible for 25% of human-caused carbon emissions worldwide. Most of this pollution comes from tailpipe emissions, but charging with electricity from clean or renewable sources increases the climate benefits of going electric.
According to an environmental impact study by Project Drawdown, emissions are reduced by 50% when an electric vehicle is powered by a conventional grid compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. When powered by solar energy, an electric car’s carbon emissions are reduced by 95% compared to a similar car with an internal combustion engine that runs on gasoline.
However, officials believed that in the long run everything would work out. During the briefing, Energy Minister Jennifer Grenholm emphasized that the president’s goal is to reach a “completely clean electric grid” by 2035.