Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu hosted an electric vehicle (EV) roundtable this week with automotive CEOs from across the country.
That’s a good sign and an important development. Why?
The future is electric, but getting there is going to take collaboration, coordination and a range of government policies that span energy, transportation, the environment and the overall industrial base.
Let’s back up.
Electrification of personal transportation has come to the United States. In fact, the shift is well underway. Last year, more than 70 electrified models were available in the market. That’s expected to grow to 130 models by 2025.
On a global scale, automakers are planning to spend $515 billion on electrification by the end of the decade.
In just the last year, sales of EVs more than doubled in the U.S. to just over four percent of vehicles sold. More than 187,000 electric vehicles were sold in the fourth quarter. When you compare the fourth quarter of 2021 with the same period in 2020, there were 76,000 more EV unit sales – that’s a 69 percent jump. Between October-December of 2021, EVs represented six percent of all light-duty vehicle sales – the highest of any quarter to date.
This momentum is predominantly driven by early adopters and affluent buyers with access to home chargers. Our challenge is to ensure these early signs of growth spread across the entire market and are available and affordable to all consumers.
How do we do that?
The short answer: it’s going to take sustained legislative and regulatory policies in Washington, DC and state capitals that support the rollout of EVs. That’s a message I hope administration officials heard.
Good news: Washington passed a once in a generation bipartisan infrastructure bill with $7.5 billion in EV charging infrastructure funding. More is needed, but that’s a real down payment to help create a nationwide EV charging network.
Congress is also hammering out a $52 billion investment in semiconductor research and manufacturing to ensure a strong domestic supply chain for chips used in auto manufacturing.
President Biden has outlined a plan to drive new EV sales to 40-50 percent of the market by 2030. How do we get there and meet our shared goal of a transportation future that benefits all communities?
Let me get specific: we need a comprehensive approach that includes purchase incentives, charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure development, and the retooling and building of manufacturing and supply chain capacity.
It’s also going to take things that might not be top of mind when thinking about transportation, like new building codes to accommodate EV chargers, streamlined permitting to support charger and hydrogen fueling installation, and policies that increase access to lithium, nickel, cobalt and certain chemicals for EV battery and motor component manufacturing.
This is a global race and other countries – notably China – are moving ahead quickly to be the world’s EV leader.
That’s why we need everyone in the U.S. to be onboard: government appointees, regulators and legislators… startups pushing the envelope of innovation… suppliers and companies who see opportunities in being a part of the value chain… firms that generate and distribute energy… and a commitment by established businesses to purchase EVs.
Innovation has already brought EVs so far. The technology is there. With smart and future-focused partnerships across the public and private sectors, there’s no telling how much further we’ll go.