By Sara Counihan
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Electric vehicles are the future, and they’re coming soon, according to John Eichberger, executive director, Fuels Institute, and host of this week’s Convenience Matters podcast.
“You may still think [electric vehicles] are this unicorn, fanciful kind of objective of the environmental community. Let me make it quite clear. They’re not fanciful. They’re not just being made up. They’re real, and it may not be in your market yet, but they will be,” said Eichberger.
Soon after elected, President Biden made it a goal have half of all new cars sold in the U.S. be electric by 2030. On Monday, the World Health Organization recommended that all governments ban new internal combustion engine vehicle sales by 2030. Currently, the U.S. has about 110,000 charging stations, but energy and auto experts say the country needs at least five to 10 times that amount to make the president’s 2030 goal happen. The Biden Administration has said that it does want half a million EV charging units in the U.S. by 2030, so retailers, utilities and other businesses are brainstorming how to make it happen on target and on budget.
Eichberger was joined by Erika Myers, acting director of Global eMobility for the World Resources Institute (WRI), which is a global think tank focused on the environmental issues of our time. The institute focuses on sustainable development, including land issues, agriculture, ocean, forest and energy, and Myers focused specifically on eMobility within the context of the global transition in our mobility space.
Paige Anderson, director of government relations at NACS, also joined Eichberger and Myers this week, and according to Anderson, on Capitol Hill, it’s a green light for EVs.
“[President Biden] has a goal of half a million EV chargers, publicly accessible, getting them out there, and they have not stopped, and they have not waned … You’re seeing a lot of incentives to build out EV charging and incentives for EVs themselves,” said Anderson.
Myers says now is “a once-in-a-century opportunity to make transformative change in the mobility sector.” Although many retailers want to hop on board the EV train, retailers are hesitant due to capital expenses to install and maintain the chargers.
“It’s like a chicken and the egg situation, right? We can’t get more people to invest in an electric vehicle until we have more charging infrastructure, but we can’t have more charging infrastructure if we expect all of our charging station owners to take a really big hit on demand charges,” said Myers.
Myers says that she has had a lot of discussions with utilities on how to support these beginning stages of the EV industry in an intermediate basis.
“Maybe instead of charging the full one hundred percent of the demand charge [to the retailer], we could have a percentage of it. So maybe 25 or 50% of that demand charge is charged to the station owner. And then the remainder is rate-based or recouped in some other way,” said Myers.
Tune into this week’s episode No. 305 Building an EV Infrastructure to learn how retailers can install a temporary fast charger through In-Charge, how the consumer incentive to buy an EV is there and how the price differential between the internal combustion engine and the electric alternative is going to shrink even more.
Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Daily and NACS Magazine. Contact her at [email protected].