Will tax credits and infrastructure accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles?

Aside from cost, one of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the United States is what researchers call “range anxiety”: the fear that you’ll be stuck somewhere in your commute. without access to a charging station.

It is an anguish rooted in real concern. The United States does not have a fully connected network of electric vehicle charging stations in the same way that gas stations serve the entire road network. But for most drivers, the median 234-mile range of a 2021 model electric car is more than enough for everyday use, says Gil Tal, director of the Institute of Transportation. Studies at the University of California, Davis.

“We want to know that we can drive the car from San Francisco to New York,” says Tal. “We’re not going to do it, but when we buy the car we want to know it can be done.”


New financial incentives in the Cut Inflation Bill 2022 – the deal struck suddenly by the senses. Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer at the end of last week – could offset some of the cost concerns. The bill proposes a tax credit of $7,500 for the purchase of new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used vehicles, with limits on buyer income and the cost of qualifying models.

Note: Electric vehicle range is based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates for a single charge. Range for gas-powered vehicles is based on tank size and combined EPA fuel economy rating.

(U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

The federal government has made $5 billion available to states for charging stations through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last fall, with an August 1 deadline for that States submit plans for the location of chargers. Taken together, tax credits and infrastructure funding could accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, with potentially significant benefits for national efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector. But some flaws still need to be fixed.

States seeking to leverage federal infrastructure funds had to submit plans for building charger networks by this week. Federal guidelines said states should plan to place chargers within 50 miles of each other on designated electric vehicle lanes. He also said their plans should seek to equitably distribute the benefits of funding to underserved and disadvantaged communities, through the physical placement of chargers and hiring and contracting practices for construction and planning. States with sparsely populated areas — like Wyoming or Montana — can request exceptions to the 50-mile guideline. The federal government expects to review and approve the plans by the end of September.

“It will be interesting to see how they use the money, because not all states are the same. What may work in Maryland will not necessarily work in Montana, which has a very different geography,” says Timothy Johnson, professor of energy and environmental practice at the University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Duke. “What you’ll kind of get is 50 different experiences.”

In Arizona, which has a relatively low ratio of charging stations to electric vehicles, the state plans to roll out its electric vehicle charging corridor along the national highway system. It will have up to $76.5 million to implement the plan.

“The biggest challenge will be locating them,” said Doug Nick, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation. “We have ideas where we want to put them: truck stops are the fruits at hand and shopping centers in urban areas close to the highway. Places like this already have a lot of the infrastructure in place – in other words, parking lots.

Densely populated areas also have charging infrastructure issues. In 2017, Philadelphia passed a moratorium on new permits for home charging stations. The reason for this was that individual homeowners on the city’s crowded residential streets, where parking is expensive, were using electric vehicle chargers to take over the street spaces.

“Essentially what they were doing was creating EV spots and then only people who could afford EVs were able to park there. It was about affordability,” says Dominic McGraw, energy manager for the city of Philadelphia.

Since then, the city has moved forward with a municipal plan for a clean fleet and added EV chargers for city vehicles at some of its public gas stations. The issue of residential parking has not been resolved, McGraw says, although there have been discussions about connecting EV chargers to other types of on-street infrastructure, such as street lighting. The possibility for more people to buy electric vehicles with the incentives offered makes the question more urgent.

“With the federal government’s movement on this, everyone is now very interested in bringing the conversation back and moving faster,” McGraw said.

The Manchin-Schumer agreement – ​​which is still not certain to become law – also includes requirements for domestic production of batteries and other parts for cars eligible for the rebate. With the growing demand for electric vehicles, this could create supply chain issues for manufacturers. But automakers now have even more incentive to address these challenges and produce electric vehicles on a larger scale.

According to Tal, tax credits are as important to them as they are to consumers. “Now they understand the demand is there,” he says.


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