Biden administration will establish traffic rules to charge electric vehicles

WASHINGTON — Electric vehicle charging stations built with federal dollars must be located along interstate highways every 50 miles, be able to quickly recharge cars, and be located no more than a mile from a major highway, under new rules proposed by the Biden administration on Thursday.

“Electric vehicle drivers should be able to count on finding a place to recharge easily wherever they go,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters Wednesday.

Mr. Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm outlined the proposed regulations, which are designed to ensure that rural areas and underserved communities have the same access to electric charging stations as more urbanized areas that already they have access.

The new standards are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to spur widespread adoption of zero-emission cars, with a goal of making half of all new vehicles sold in the United States electric by 2030.

Under the proposed new rule, states would need to provide at least four of the fastest charging ports, known as DirectCurrent fast chargers, at each charging station to allow multiple drivers to connect at the same time.

Buttigieg said the plan will send “a market signal” to companies building charging stations that they should offer a standard facility that can accommodate all electric and zero-emission vehicle models. Along I-95 in the Northeast, many rest stops are equipped with chargers that fit only Tesla vehicles.

Under the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed last year by President Biden, the administration would provide $7.5 billion to states to create a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

In a proposed rulemaking notice released Thursday, the administration indicated it would bar charging stations built with federal dollars from requiring paid memberships. Charging stations would also have to use mobile apps to provide real-time information on prices and port availability.

Officials in the Biden administration have pointed to electric vehicles as a response to rising gas prices; Electric cars are generally much cheaper to operate than vehicles that burn gasoline. The administration is also promoting electric vehicles as a way to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and fight climate change.

While EV sales are strong and many manufacturers now have waiting lists for new vehicles, the initial sticker price and concerns about enough places to recharge are seen as barriers to broader consumer acceptance.

Administration officials said they believe the charging station hurdle is on the way to being resolved. Mr. Biden has set a goal of building 500,000 charging stations across the country by 2030.

A senior administration official said Wednesday that internal modeling showed the $7.5 billion in infrastructure law was enough to meet and possibly exceed Biden’s goal.

Ms Granholm said the standards proposed on Thursday should assure motorists that they will be able to recharge wherever they are.

“If we’re going to build infrastructure like we haven’t since the Eisenhower era, we have to get it right,” he said.

Making electric vehicles more affordable will be more difficult for the Biden administration to tackle. Tax credits of up to $12,500 for consumers who buy electric vehicles are in limbo on Capitol Hill. Sen. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia, whose vote his party must secure to pass the measure, has called electric vehicle rebates “ridiculous” given that there are currently waiting lists for some vehicles.

Electric vehicle sales now account for 4.6 percent of new purchases in the United States. Ms Granholm noted that electric vehicle sales doubled last year and are on track to double again in 2022, despite supply chain issues and semiconductor shortages.

The Republican Party has painted the Biden administration as deaf on the issue, pushing for more expensive electric cars at a time when Americans are suffering from inflation. When Mr. Buttigieg in March pointed to the gas savings that can come from driving an electric vehicle, Republicans pounced.

“Tell me you’re liberal elite without telling me you’re liberal elite,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

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