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What the Infrastructure Bill Means for Long-Term EV Adoption

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Nov. 11, 2021—Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved President Joe Biden's massive $1 trillion infrastructure package by a 228-206 vote. 

The bill, touted by Biden as a “monumental step forward for the nation” in a press conference after the vote, is a significantly pared down version of the original blueprint house democrats put together earlier this year; major compromises were necessary in order to get enough bipartisan votes for the bill to pass in the first place. 

In addition to focusing on repairing roads and bridges, installing rural broadband access points and other major projects, the new spending package represents one of the most significant investments in electric vehicle infrastructure ever put together. 

Despite that, though, some of the claims that Biden and other lawmakers made about the reach of the bill may be overstated. 

One of the biggest promises the president made was the installation of 500,000 fast charging stations, or more, nationwide. 

“You’ll be able to go across the whole darn country, from East Coast to West Coast, just like you’d stop at a gas station now. These charging stations will be available,” Biden said at a press conference according to the Associated Press.

However, according to the AP report, that promise was made when $15 billion was designated toward the charger installation project. The approved bill only includes half that, which is still a significant amount of money and a good stepping-off point for national EV infrastructure, but would fall significantly short if that were the only meaningful investment in EV infrastructure made in the coming years. 

According to research from the International Council on Clean Transportation cited in the Associated Press report, the U.S. would need 2.4 million EV chargers to support the amount of new electric vehicles on the market should OEMs such as Ford and GM keep true to their commitment of having up to 50 percent of new car sales come from EVs by the end of the decade. 

As of last year, there were just over 200,000 throughout the country, most of which are clustered in dense urban areas. 

The $7.5 billion is a good start, but, as the AP pointed out, "striving toward a goal is not the same as a promise that Biden reaffirmed" at his news conference.

In addition to the funding not being as robust as some lawmakers would like it to be, the timeline isn't as aggressive as initially planned. 

During his conference, Biden said that states could start to see funding dispersed "probably starting within the next two to three months," and though that is somewhat true, it's still a bit of a stretch.

About $5 billion of the $7.5 billion set aside for EV funding will be dispersed in $1 billion increments over the next five years, so states could get access to around $1 billion of that almost immediately. However, through various state and federal approval processes, the rest of that funding could be held for upward of a year as budgets are crafted and requests are put in. 

According to experts cited in the AP report, it could take until Spring 2022 for meaningful, visible progress to be made on infrastructure improvements. 

Overall, the infrastructure bill lays the groundwork for the U.S. to take significant strides in EV infrastructure, but it is far from the only investment necessary to make a nationwide EV charging network a reality. 

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