Harris unveils plan for charging network for electric cars

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration on Monday released an ambitious federal strategy to build 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles across the country and reduce the cost of electric cars with the goal of transforming the US automotive industry.

“The future of transportation in our nation and around the world is electric,” said Vice President Kamala Harris at an EV charging station in the suburb of Maryland.

$ 1 trillion infrastructure law President Joe Biden signed last month approving a nationwide network of charging stations and setting aside $ 5 billion for states to build them, including $ 63 million for Maryland. The law also provides an additional $ 2.5 billion in local grants to support charging stations in rural areas and disadvantaged communities.

Biden̵[ads1]7;s $ 2 trillion social and environmental bill, now being considered by the Senate, includes a $ 7500 tax deduction to reduce the cost of electric vehicles.

“We want to make electric vehicles accessible to everyone,” Harris said. “Absolutely make it accessible to everyone and easy. Just like filling the car with gasoline.”

The automotive industry is already moving toward electric vehicles, Harris added: “We need to speed up the shift and make sure it’s run by the United States.”

When public chargers are installed in rural, urban or suburban areas, “we make it easier for people to go electric,” Harris said, adding that the biggest barrier most people mention to buying an electric car is “finding out where and how they must let it. “

People living in apartments may not have a private driveway where they can install a plug, she said, while rural residents may have to drive miles to the nearest charger.

Harris visited a maintenance facility in Brandywine, just outside Washington, where she was given a demonstration of how chargers work and learned about a plan to electrify the government fleet in Maryland’s Prince George’s County.

“There is no sound or smoke!” exclaimed Harris as she loaded one of the county’s vehicles. “How do I know it actually works?” she asked with a laugh.

The car is fully charged when the display is evenly green, said Mahidhar Reddy, CEO and founder of SemaConnect, a Maryland company that made the charging station.

The new charging strategy for electric cars establishes a common office for electric vehicles between the federal energy and transportation departments; issues guidance and standards for states; and ensures consultations with producers, state and local authorities, environmental law and civil rights groups, tribes and others, the White House said.

The two departments will also start an advisory committee on electric vehicles, which officials hope will be up and running early next year.

Accelerated use of electric vehicles for personal cars and commercial fleets will help achieve Biden’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while creating thousands of jobs, the White House said.

The effort is also intended to help the United States skip China in the plug-in EV market. At present, the US market share of plug-in electric car sales is one third of the size of the Chinese electric car market.

Biden has set a goal that electric cars and trucks will account for half of new vehicles sold by 2030.

The consulting firm LMC Automotive expects that US sales of new all-electric vehicles will reach almost 400,000 this year, almost double last year’s figures. Electric cars still account for only around 2.6% of sales, but the company expects sales to grow to more than 730,000 next year and more than 2 million by 2025.

Even at 2 million, EV sales will still be only around 12% of new vehicle sales in the United States.

Republicans, including some who voted for the new infrastructure law, have criticized Biden for being concerned about electric car technology when Americans are fighting for an increase in gasoline and natural gas prices..

Republican and Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., also criticizes a proposal in the Democratic bill that would offer an additional $ 4,500 tax deduction for a vehicle made at a U.S. facility operating under a union-negotiated collective agreement. Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, called the plan a “handout to union leaders” that would punish carmakers with non-union workers.

Last month, Biden ordered a record 50 million barrels of oil released from the United States Strategic Reserve, in coordination with other major energy-consuming nations. Gas prices have fallen in recent weeks as fears of another possible economic downturn from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic grow.


Associated Press writer Tom Krisher of Detroit contributed to this story.

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