EV Charging Corridors on the Horizon, but Future Under Trump Is Uncertain

The Obama Administration is putting range anxiety in the rear-view mirror. Along with the Department of Transportation and a plethora of partner states, cities, change groups and other organizations, the Administration announced a comprehensive plan to expand electric vehicle infrastructure and integration across the nation.

The plan’s central component will make cross country travel significantly easier in an EV. 48 national “charging corridors” will be established on the highway system, covering 25,000 miles in 35 states. Expect highway signage like what we already have signaling gas, food and hotels, but for EV charging stations. The DOT wants drivers to be able to cross the nation in their EV without range anxiety, so the corridors will feature charging stations every 50 miles or so.

EV charging map US highways

Here are some more impressive numbers the Administration rolled out: 28 states, utilities, vehicle manufacturers and change organizations are committed to help develop the charging infrastructure along the new corridors. 24 states and local governments are going to put more battery electric vehicles and plug in hybrids in their fleets, which will account for over 2,500 EV purchases in 2017 alone, and even more EVs will be incorporated going forward.

Here in Michigan, the City of Detroit is one of the committed partners, and the whole initiative will be a huge boost to the Michigan auto industry and associated EV supply businesses. More infrastructure means more possibilities for EV drivers to travel worry free, and soon there won’t be anything keeping people from driving electric in cars Built by Michigan.

However, there is some instability in our electric future. The coming Trump administration brings with it a lot of uncertainty. How will they deal with EV tax incentives, or the Obama era fuel economy standards? There’s no way to know for sure right now.

Luckily, the $7,500 EV tax credit is locked up in federal tax code, so it would take an act of Congress to change. Some members of the auto industry have also been lobbying to ease fuel economy standards which help drive EV investments.  We’ll have to wait to see what a new Trump Administration wants to do here, as Obama Administration officials seek to finalize rules before leaving office.

What we do know, however, is that other major countries are poised to honor the Paris Climate Agreement and put well-built EVs in high demand, so automakers will need to keep up their efforts for the global market.  Also, California and the other ZEV states will no doubt continue their efforts. Automakers have already made huge investments in EVs, so industry growth will no doubt outlast near-term political turbulence.

And that’s good news, because one stand-out Michigan EV is making big waves right now: the Chevy Bolt was already named car of the year by two publications (see our story below). In other news we cover this month, the State of Michigan is looking into ways to use the Volkswagen settlement funds for zero emission vehicle infrastructure, a Chinese company is opening a Washtenaw County research and development center, and some new “quiet car” rules have been finalized at the federal level.

It’s shaping up to be an electrifying holiday season!

Until next time, 

Charles GriffithCharles Griffith
Climate and Energy Program Director 

Ecology Center