The Biden administration on Wednesday released long-awaited final rules for the national network of electric vehicle chargers, requiring chargers to be built in the United States immediately and to come with 55% of their cost from American-made components by 2024. The new rules, released after nearly eight months of debate, the Biden administration hopes will kickstart the biggest change to the American driving landscape in generations. It’s designed to give consumers unrestricted access to a growing network of coast-to-coast electric vehicle charging stations, including Tesla Inc.’s SuperChargers.
Companies hoping to raise $7.5 billion in federal funding for the network must also adopt the U.S.-led standard for charging connectors, known as the “Combined Charging System,” or CCS, and use standardized payment options that fit into smartphones.
Tesla, the largest U.S. electric carmaker and charging company, plans to adopt the CCS standard and expand beyond its proprietary connector offerings, the U.S. government said.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “No matter what kind of electric vehicle you drive, we want to make sure you can plug in, know what you’re going to pay, and have a predictable, user-friendly experience Charge.” The reporter was previewing the rules.
The first of billions in federal funding will now go to states in the coming weeks, forcing companies like Tesla, EVgo Inc and ChargePoint Holdings Inc to fight for their own share of the money from states.
The network is a central part of U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate change plan to convert 50 percent of all new car sales in the U.S. to electric vehicles by 2030. A lack of chargers on U.S. roads has slowed the growth of electric vehicle sales and their positive impact on the environment, advocates say.
Manufacturers warned ahead of the rules that imposing domestic component quotas too early in planning rules would slow rollouts.
White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi said that under Biden, the number of electric vehicle models available to consumers has doubled, as have the number of charging stations and sales of electric vehicles.
“So it’s not pie in the sky. It’s actually steel in the ground. We see Biden’s climate vision,” Zaidi said.
“Build America, Buy America”
Under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act of 2021, federal infrastructure projects such as electric vehicle chargers must source at least 55 percent of their construction materials, including steel, domestically and do all manufacturing in the United States immediately.
However, the Department of Transportation requested an exemption for EV charging stations and initially proposed that at least 25% of the total cost of chargers come from U.S.-made components starting this July and then reaching 55% by January 1, 2024.
The new rule abandons the two-step process and introduces a 55% component cost reserve starting in July 2024. Chargers must be assembled in a U.S. factory, and any iron or steel charger case or case must be made in the U.S., starting immediately.
The United States and its allies Mexico and the European Union (EU) have clashed over protectionist policies put in place by Biden. The United States and the European Union formed a task force last year to review U.S. laws that Europeans fear could discriminate against foreign electric carmakers.
Some of the most critical components of electric vehicle chargers require steel, including internal structural frames, heating and cooling fans, and power transformers. Chargers with cabinets to house the product require more steel, in some cases as much as 50% of the total cost of the charger.
In comments to the Department of Transportation, states and companies warned that global demand for electric vehicle chargers is putting pressure on supply chains, making it difficult, if not impossible, to meet American-made standards and speed up the construction of new chargers. if possible.
Tesla told the DOT that the plan was “aggressive” and “could result in an insufficient number of compliant charging stations being available given the speed and scale of deployment,” records show.
Labor advocates, however, argue that delaying or bypassing the requirements would undercut Congress’ intentions and penalize companies that act early to comply with the rules.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make this happen,” said Scott Paul, president of the Federation of American Manufacturers. “The challenge with a deferment is that it creates habit, and groups will always bicker and procrastinate.”
First published date: Feb 15, 2023 at 17:01 PM CST