The Biden administration released a federal strategy Monday to bring down the cost of electric cars. It includes 500,000 new charging stations, electric-friendly highways and domestic battery sourcing.
“The future of transportation in our nation and around the world is electric,” Vice President Kamala Harris said at an EV charging facility in suburban Maryland.
The $1 trillion infrastructure law President Joe Biden signed last month authorizes a nationwide network of charging stations and sets aside $5 billion for states to build them.
Biden’s $2 trillion social and environmental policy bill, now pending in the Senate, includes a $7,500 tax credit to lower the cost of electric vehicles.
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The Biden administration wants “to make electric vehicles accessible for everyone,” Harris said. “Absolutely make it accessible for everyone and easy. Just like filling up your car with gas.”
What about expensive electric vehicle batteries?
Another key component of the electric vehicle strategy is to increase domestic manufacturing of EV batteries and components.
The plan also hopes to advance environmentally responsible domestic sourcing and recycling of critical minerals. For example, lithium is an important component of batteries, but the U.S. has low levels of domestic supply.
The Biden strategy will involve an expansion of lithium sourcing by approving mining permits. Automakers are signing contracts that leverage domestic supply, with Ford sourcing recycled lithium from a company in Nevada, GM drawing from California’s Salton Sea, and Tesla sourcing lithium from a project in North Carolina, according to the White House.
Harris visited a maintenance facility in Brandywine, just outside Washington, where she received a demonstration of how chargers work.
“There’s no sound or fume,” Harris exclaimed as a local worker demonstrated the charger. “How do I know it’s actually working?”
The car is fully charged when it’s blinking green, the worker told her.
Accelerated adoption of electric vehicles for personal cars and commercial fleets would help achieve Biden’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 while creating thousands of jobs, the White House said.
What if I run out of electricity? Increasing ‘alternative fuel corridors’
Alternative fuel corridors are designated highway segments that have infrastructure plans to allow travel on alternative fuels, including electricity.
The Biden administration hopes to designate more highways as “corridor-ready” for electric vehicles, meaning EV charging stations are no more than 50 miles apart and no more than 5 miles off the highway.
Biden has set a goal that electric cars and trucks account for half of new vehicles sold by 2030.
The LMC Automotive consulting firm expects U.S. sales of new fully electric vehicles to hit nearly 400,000 this year, almost double last year’s figure. EVs still make up only about 2.6% of sales, but the firm expects sales to grow to more than 730,000 next year and more than 2 million by 2025.
Even at 2 million, EV sales still would be only about 12% of U.S. new vehicle sales.
Republicans, including some who voted in favor of the infrastructure law, have criticized Biden for being preoccupied with electric vehicle technology when Americans are contending with a spike in gasoline and natural gas prices.
Biden last month ordered a record 50 million barrels of oil released from America’s strategic reserve, in coordination with other major energy consuming nations. Gas prices have fallen in recent weeks as fears grow of another possible economic slowdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Average prices on Sunday were $3.33 a gallon, according to the American Automobile Association, down about 7 cents from late last month.
Contributing: Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.