America wants charging electric cars to be as painless as refueling.

America wants charging electric cars to be as painless as refueling. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!

Electric vehicles are often considered the future.

Ford will soon begin deliveries of its shiny new F-150 Lightning, an electric version of its pickup truck, and other automakers are scrambling to electrify their most popular models in America.

Many drivers considering switching to an Electric Vehicle have raised a similar concern: the imaginary nightmare of being trapped in a wilderness without being able to charge their battery.

The Biden administration has an ambitious plan to deal with the situation. It wants to build a ton of chargers to make them as common as gas stations, closer to the convenience and speed of pumping.

Here’s how the program works — and what it means for Electric Vehicle owners and potential buyers.

The federal government will spend $5 billion to build 500,000 charging stations. The money will go to states that must submit plans to the federal government by late summer.

The funding comes with strings attached — terms designed to ensure the charger network is fast, reliable and convenient.

To that end, states will prioritize building charging piles along highway systems. Each charging station must provide at least four fast speed plugs. Chargers are to be non-proprietary, which means they can be connected to multiple brands of cars.

There’s a real fear of running out without a way to recharge, and that fear is widely seen as one of the biggest barriers to mass adoption of electric vehicles.

Phil Torres, a portfolio manager in Chicago.

When he was considering buying an electric car, he wondered whether he could find enough public charging stations on the street.

He took the plunge and bought the Polestar 2 anyway.

Soon after, he and his son went on a six-week road trip to visit potential colleges.

He still remembers the stress of watching his battery icon drain while worrying about finding a charger.

The government wants fast chargers – so-called Level 3 chargers or DC fast chargers. A DC fast charger can almost fully charge a car battery in 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the vehicle.

They are a faster option than Level 2 chargers, which take about 5 hours to charge the vehicle. However, there are far fewer DC fast chargers on the road today than Level 2.

As with many projects, the biggest challenges are time and money.

DC fast chargers can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $140,000, not even including installation costs.

With relatively few Electric Vehicles on the road today in America, these chargers are often idle, making it difficult to recoup the initial investment.

There’s also the fact that this is an emerging technology and there are still bugs that are being worked out.

Phil Torres experienced this firsthand on a road trip with his son. He was parked at a charger that was malfunctioning or couldn’t connect to his vehicle – problems that led him to find another charger.

According to some estimates, it could cost $40 billion to build all those chargers — eight times the amount the federal government has appropriated.

But Britta Gross of energy consultancy RMI said it was an important start that could help boost private investment.

“That could be the trigger for the confidence, ‘Hey, private investment, now it’s restarting where the federal government has put it on hold, it’s time for the free market to take this thing to the next level,” she said.

There are currently about 46,000 charging stations in the United States, compared with about 150,000 gas stations.

Some of these chargers are made by car manufacturers. Tesla has built more than 900 of its own chargers in the United States, although these charging stations only charge Tesla vehicles.

Others are built by independent charging providers such as Electrify America, EVgo and ChargePoint. These companies often work with gas stations, major department stores and grocery stores that install chargers.

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America wants charging electric cars to be as painless as refueling.
Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!