The White House announced a sweeping plan to expand the number of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States today, as first reported by Reuters. The Obama administration detailed how it will establish 48 new “charging corridors” that span nearly 25,000 miles of major highways across 35 states. EV charging stations will be available about every 50 miles along these routes, and most of them will be installed in 2017, though a total target number was not given.
As a part of the plan, the US Department of Energy will also conduct two studies concerning the expansion of EV charging stations. One will determine the best ways to deploy charging stations at a national level, and the other will help outline “best practices” for installing faster charging stations, which cut charging time dramatically compared to the more common “Level 1” and “Level 2” chargers. The announcements are a result of the groundwork laid this summer at the Department of Energy’s first ever Sustainable Transportation Summit, which involved a $4.5 billion loan program meant to encourage electric vehicle adoption.
The charging corridor expansion itself involves a public-private partnership with 28 states, utilities, and vehicle manufactures, including General Electric, GM, BMW, and Nissan. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) says that these corridors “will serve as a basis for a national network of electric vehicle charging” in the coming years, and that part of the plan involves developing a “national signage and branding to help catalyze applicant and public interest” — a marketing campaign, essentially, that will start with the FHWA adding signage for electric vehicle charging stations just like the ones that exist for food, gas stations, and lodging.
In addition to the charging station commitments, 24 state and local governments have agreed to increase the number of electric vehicles, zero-emissions vehicles, or plug-in hybrid vehicles in their respective municipal fleets. The FHWA says the goal is to add 2,500 new electric vehicles in 2017, but the depths and timeframes of those individual commitments vary. For example, Columbus, Ohio will add 448 electric vehicles, and Los Angeles has committed to tripling its EV fleet by the end of 2017. Pittsburgh has committed to purchasing six new electric vehicles per year over the next three years, while Rhode Island has agreed to make 25 percent of its light-duty state vehicle purchases electric by 2025.
A robust network of charging stations is crucial to the adoption of electric vehicles. Increasing the number of charging stations would help cut down on the anxiety that electric vehicle owners have about their range limits. And while there are already more than 16,000 charging stations in place across the US, some — especially Tesla’s fast charging stations — are often plagued by long waits.