The U.S. government may need a significant number of charging stations to support the ongoing automotive transition to electrification, according to a government watchdog organization.
President Biden to support this transition, pledged to electrify the government vehicle fleet to replace some 657,000 vehicles owned by the U.S. at the beginning of 2021.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) told a congressional hearing that the government may need more than 100,000 charging stations to support this effort. In 2020, only 0.3% of these vehicles were electric and the government spent about $4.2 billion on vehicle costs including $730 million for fuel.
Under the Biden plan, any new purchases of vehicles — which are about 50,000 a year by the U.S. government — will be required to be emissions free by 2027.
Last year, Congress approved the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation providing $7.5 billion to build out a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers. This would include $5 billion for states to build them.
Likewise, the infrastructure bill provides an additional $2.5 billion for local grants to support charging stations in rural areas and disadvantaged communities.
The goal is to help transform the U.S. automotive industry as it transitions to electrification as its main model automakers will be selling come 2030. Also in January, major automotive OEMs in the U.S. such as General Motors and Ford have pledged to phase out gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035 and selling only electric models.
Other automakers followed suit with Volvo, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and many more of the leading brands moving quickly to electric vehicles as their main supply.
The move to electrification is two-fold: A growing consumer interest in the models due to the popularity of Tesla Motors; and the growing need to decrease the carbon footprint to help with climate change that is being driven by regional government mandates.
Private industry expanding too
While the government is putting aside spending for EV charging stations, private industry is quickly expanding in the U.S. to support the coming transition.
Some of these moves include:
- Starbucks building charging stations with ChargePoint at 15 locations from Denver to Seattle.
- 1,000 EV fast charging stations at Walgreens locations through Volta at 500 drug stores.
- Topgolf expanding its EV charging to more locations across the country.
- General Motors installing up to 40,000 chargers across the U.S. and Canada.
- Electrify America expanding to 10,000 individual chargers and 1,800 fast chargers in the U.S. and Canada.
The global volume of EV charging sessions — where an EV battery is charged using a charging point — will exceed 1.5 billion annually by 2026. That is up from just 200 million in 2021, a staggering growth of more than 665% over the next five years driven by greater government incentives for EVs as well as more widespread charging services, according to Juniper Research.
Juniper identified that incentives for EV ownership have significantly increased in Europe, and incentive packages are needed in North America to stimulate growth. The market research firm said EV charging vendors should work with governments and others like fuel retailers to coordinate public charging network infrastructure rollouts or risk the electrification market stalling.