As many of us can attest for lack of a better word COVID has been a doozy. Fear, anxiety, economic uncertainty aside, The amount of entertainment and travel options that are available have been limited and many people like myself have avoided uber’s and airplane travel like the proverbial plague. When it comes to transportation, what has alluded me through this incredibly weird time in human history is the modern options for fuel economy at an affordable price. Without a sheckle of bitcoin to my name and having not recently been creative enough to sell a tweet for instant millions on NFTgateway, I like others have purchased a sensible used car that can get me through the perils of New England snow and not cost me a fortune. Like most cars in the late aughts, there is an attempt by the auto-industry to appeal to our greener side and provide an eco-mode to improve fuel economy and lower our spend at the pump. These features, while great at the outset, aren’t quite fully doing what they were set out to do. On my Volvo XC-90 for example, the improvement to fuel economy is a measly 3-4MPG and toggling the engine off provides a really herky jerky driving experience. However fear not, eco-friendly consumer. Uncle Joe has a plan for you!
President Biden is set to transform the auto industry in an effort to curb climate change and provide oomph to his 2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure plan. As it stands today, about 2% of new cars on US Roads right now run on electricity and over 60% percent of greenhouse gases are attributed to cars. Biden sees cars and electric vehicles as a primary driver to decarbonizing the economy by 2050. President Biden has earmarked $174 Billion towards support of electric vehicles. This portion of the bill provides funding for companies with the ability to retrofit their factories for (EVs), grant tax incentives to encourage the buyer, and also provide funding so that the supply chain is taking into account a zero-carbon initiative. One part of this strategy, centers around revamping electric vehicles for delivery. Delivery vehicles, are a good target these types of trucks return to a central location so they don’t need as much charging infrastructure. FedEx is already leading the way by adding 100% electric to its fleet by 2040. (Source : https://www.vox.com/22364340/electric-cars-biden-infrastructure-plan-evs-chargers)
Despite the rhetoric and the consumer sentiment in favor of EV’s, there are two problems that still remain on the consumer front. First, there is still an incredible lack of charging infrastructure. Biden’s plan looks to solve for this by adding 500,000 charging stations over the next decade. This would be in addition to Tesla’s own network which consists of 908 charging stations and 1,826 stations worldwide. Despite the boom in charging stations, The US has yet to solve for more consumer friendly battery charging speeds. Even with a properly fitted home base station outfitted with a standard 220 volt charger will only get you 17 miles of MPG in 1 hour. Tesla has super charging stations but it takes 20 minutes to fill up halfway and 1 hour 10 minutes to fill up an 85kwh, contrast that with 3-5 minutes for a gas car and EVs still have a significant mountain to climb to coax buyers into purchasing.
On the supply chain front, There is an arms race around the world to build as much lithium capacity as possible to gain dominance in the electric vehicle space. Doing more than that is an imposing task. Francis Wang, chief executive of Chicago-based NanoGraf is quoted as saying ( Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/04/04/electric-cars-batteries/) “The battery business is a tough business,” Wang said. “It’s incredibly capital intensive. It costs millions if not billions of dollars to get a factory off the ground. The margins are pretty tight. Razor thin. And there is a tremendous amount of risk. Biden’s plan still doesn’t cover much in terms of ensuring that the supply chain is built in such a why that minimizes green house gasses, it also doesn’t directly speak to what strides we need to make as a nation to decarbonizing the grid. However, this is definitely a big step in the right direction and one that will move the nation and the auto-industry to a carbon neutral future.