Electric Avenue – Will Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Usher In A New Wave of EV’s?

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!

How the Biden presidency will accelerate change to electric cars: 10  talking points
Creator: John F. Martin | Credit: John F. Martin for Chevrolet

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)

FedEx Express to get 500 electric vehicles from GM's BrightDrop
GM’s Startup BrightDrop will Launch the EV600 (pictured here) later this year. The First 500 will go to FedEx. It is an electric commercial truck with a 250-mile range on a full charge. BrightDrop

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.

Benefits of electric cars | Electric vs petrol cars | EDF

Sources : https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1130224_why-biden-presidency-electric-cars-auto-industry-10-talking-points

https://www.tesla.com/customer-stories/owning-tesla-brooklyn

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/04/04/electric-cars-batteries/

https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/energywise/electric-cars-and-environment

https://www.vox.com/22364340/electric-cars-biden-infrastructure-plan-evs-chargers

6 comments

  1. I will be buying or leasing a car in the next month so this is a well timed blog for my interests. In deciding what type of car I want, there are many factors to consider. Choosing between a regular gas vs EV car is not one of the major factors for me right now though. As much as I would love a Tesla, what holds me back from seriously considering it is what you mentioned in your blog. It feels like the infrastructure for EVs is still in its infancy. When I get a newer car after this one that I am about to buy, I would imagine the technology will be to the point where it would be a reasonable choice that I would have to make between EV and gas.

  2. conoreiremba · ·

    So many words we could use for COVID but I think you’ve nailed it with “Doozy”. You do a really nice job of highlighting how far we have yet to go in terms of making EVs more ubiquitous and it will certainly not be an overnight success story. I know in Ireland; adoption has also been extremely slow and it is exactly for the reason that both you and Michael mentioned around a lack of infrastructure, particularly in rural Ireland and so it is something that will remain a large barrier to adoption. I do also believe that there is a certain stigma associated with EVs that prevent people from buying, not just around slow charging that you mention but also things like “range anxiety” and lower travel distances. But even the newer mid-priced options that are now available in the market have ranges of 200miles+, and so I think that companies can do more to highlight the benefits of EVs and their capabilities over and above environmental impact.
    But as you mentioned, these are certainly welcome developments. I have stopped driving since I moved to the US, just because I haven’t needed to but also because I didn’t want the additional financial burden. My goal is to buy a new car in the not-so-distant future and I hope by then that “Uncle Joe’s” plan will have gone so far as to make an EV a realistic option for me. Thanks for sharing Ben.

  3. Very nice post Ben. It will be interesting to see how much progress we can make over the next decade. You pointed out some really compelling points as to why widescale adoption has not caught on. One aspect that we are starting to see now is a used car market for EV’s. With EV’s being so expensive and a little inconvenient it is nice to see older Tesla’s hit the market making EV ownership more affordable to the masses.

  4. ritellryan · ·

    The infrastructure for charging has to be one of the largest challenges for adoption. Our old office in Needham had electric chargers for cars in the parking garage so when my dad came up here with his hybrid, he would use it to charge and do the trip from southwest CT to Boston using virtually no gas, which he loved. Delivery trucks to me are the perfect ones to target as they do mostly highway driving at a consistent speed so you can optimize for that, additionally they probably have more use than a persona vehicle does as well so you might be getting the bulk of the “driving miles” covered.

  5. lisahersh · ·

    Awesome post, Ben! The charging infrastructure and the time it takes to fill charge up were the issues that always stood out in my mind when it comes to the switch to EVs. But the battery problem is not something I considered and is definitely a major barrier in the supply chain, so thank you for bringing that to my attention. I think delivery vehicles are a great place to begin the conversion, but it got me thinking that it might be good for cities to target doing the same with busses since they follow pretty much the same pattern as delivery vehicles! I googled it and found this article about how part of Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $25 billion directed towards the development of electric school busses: https://electrek.co/2021/04/23/lawmakers-unveil-25-billion-legislation-to-convert-us-school-buses-to-electric/

  6. shaneriley88 · ·

    Great post, Ben. I think a big litmus test will be when we see commercial truck stops geared towards high voltage 18 wheeler charging. I hate to say/think it but i feel that the environmental drive behind EV cars is tantamount to the tail wagging the dog. I think that once commercial drivers assimilate in scale we will see a huge buy in and shift. I’m eager to see how the next 3 years and 265 days pan out!

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