Charging Our Way Forward

Charging Our Way Forward

The Biden Administration’s historic reimagining of America’s infrastructure — The American Jobs Plan — invests $174 billion to spur the development and adoption of electric vehicles (EV), with the lion’s share — $100 billion – on consumer incentives. I am a firm believer that the path to electrified transportation must be forged by drivers. EVs are fast becoming cheaper than gasoline vehicles but making them even more affordable right now is critical to driving vehicle demand. Rapidly increasing consumer’s EV purchase demand will propel buildout of the EV charging infrastructure at a faster pace. But I also recognize that we have a chicken and egg problem at the moment. Research shows that the lack of electric vehicle charging stations is now the consequential barrier for consumers, more than price.

Policy is also key to help encourage drivers to drop vehicles with polluting tailpipes. To meet Governor Newsom’s Executive Order that calls for 100% zero-emission vehicle sales for new cars and trucks by 2035, the California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, Governor’s Office of Economic and Business Development (Go-Biz) and other agencies are doubling down on investment in the state’s charging infrastructure. Notably, while the Biden plan to build 500,000 chargers across America is bold and ambitious, California policymakers have determined that 1.5 million EV chargers for its population of 40 million are required by 2030 in order to meet the Governor’s 2035 goal. There are currently 70,479 public and shared private charging stations in California. See Veloz’s 2020 Q4 EV Dashboard.

And the Governor’s 2021/2022 budget proposal for a $1.5 billion zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) investment is the largest state budget proposal for electric vehicles ever. California’s leadership knows that investing in infrastructure will not only accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles but also jump start our economic recovery from the pandemic by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

But building out ZEV infrastructure isn’t just about how much money is spent, but about spending those dollars strategically. We must invest in creating a robust sustainable market for EV charging and hydrogen refueling stations, which requires solving critical challenges, some more daunting than others. That’s where Veloz comes in. By bringing together major public and private sector leaders in the transportation space, we can identify barriers to electrified transportation, consider the unique and nuanced questions and forge innovative solutions.

For instance, when it comes to electric vehicle charging stations, right now, utility demand charges make owning and operating a station unprofitable. Utilities, on the other hand, need a constant source of revenue in order to add to the energy supply and modernize the grid to meet the increasing electricity demand from electric vehicles. In the long term, utilities that move to solar and wind, with near zero marginal costs, will be able to deliver more electricity at less cost, and electric vehicles represent a huge new market. But in the short term, utility and charging station owner costs are delaying build-out. Action is needed now. To maximize this opportunity and accelerate the transition to electrified transportation requires re-envisioning utility rate structures. A potential initial step in this process is to establish a national EV demand charge standard to examine the issue and determine what is in the best interests of ratepayers within their jurisdiction.

Then there are the soft costs of building an EV charging station. Even though electric chargers – think electricity outlets – have none of the toxic impacts of gasoline pumps, most jurisdictions still subject charging stations to the same permitting processes of approval. These permits involve state, county, city and even neighborhood regulatory organizations, and are more often than not treated as if they were gasoline stations.Installing a charging outlet in your home requires the time it takes for an electrician to show up, but installing a public charger can take up to two years. These “soft costs”– permits and paperwork — are stalling buildout, even as the technology has dropped in price by two-thirds. California lawmakers mandated that local governments streamline this process, but in the six years since that legislation passed, research shows that less than 20% of jurisdictions are in compliance. So Veloz is partnering with Go-Biz to pilot a project to streamline the process by engaging, educating and learning from local regulators. Our goal is to take what we learn and provide solutions for jurisdictions across the state and country. Please join our April Webinar: “Permit Approved: Cities Leading the Electric Car Revolution” to learn more from city and state leaders about policies that streamline the EV charger installation process and watch the video Veloz and GO-Biz produced, “Clearing the Path to Permitting Charging Stations”.

In the next year, there will be hundreds of new electric cars, SUVs, and pick-up models available worldwide, many with the same upfront cost or less than the average cost of a new gasoline vehicle. Most will have much faster charging speeds and a range of 200-300 miles. Worldwide, EV sales are up 138% compared to February 2020, far outpacing sales of gasoline cars. And automakers are going full throttle, with investments of more than $135 billion planned globally. They know electrified transportation is the future, and they want to win the market.

At Veloz, we not only know 100% electric is just around the corner, we are committed to getting there faster and equitably. Even though 80% of EV charging is done at home and increased home charging is key to satisfying many charging challenges we know it is important that we recognize not everyone lives in a single family home so, public charging is imperative to making electrified transportation accessible and affordable for all. See last month’s blog on Why Electric Must be For All.

Just as smart phones overtook landlines in the blink of an eye, and changed just about everything – from how we communicate to the way we socialize – electric vehicles are transforming our world. Achieving a robust EV market that meets everyone’s needs requires robust leadership, crushing bad habits and out of the box thinking. That’s what Veloz aims to provide. It’s an all hands on deck moment to make Electric For All – please come join us!

Let’s Veloz,