Backed by the Obama administration, the aim of the initiative is to push for greater acceptance of the zero-emission electric car by reducing “range anxiety,” giving EV owners a coast-to-coast network of charging stations.
Gizmag says in order to determine the best locations for EV charging stations, the initiative will first identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors across the country. This is all part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
The FAST Act was signed into law on December 4, 2015. It was the first federal law in over a decade to provide long-term funding for surface transportation infrastructure, planning, and investment. The act authorized $305 billion in funding over fiscal years 2016 through 2020.
The funding is to be used on highways, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology, and statistics programs. Based on the criteria, the EV charging station initiative allows the federal government to free up the $4.5 billion needed.
U.S. automakers cheer the initiative
U.S. automakers are betting on the electric car, partly because of the stringent fuel-economy standards we have in place. Ford is investing $4.5 billion in adding 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020, while GM is rolling out the Bolt, which GM says is the first affordable long-range EV later this year.
Tesla Motors and Nissan already provide most of the charging stations in the nation, and other car makers are jumping on the bandwagon, signing on to the deal, including Ford, General Motors, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Worldwide, Tesla has 681 supercharger stations, with 4,157 charging points. As for charging stations in the U.S., there are currently over 16,000.
Additionally, the cost of batteries for EV’s has decreased 70 percent since 2008. A typical battery for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with a 40-mile electric range cost $12,000 in 2008, and today that battery would cost far less, according to experts. Most automakers are looking at batteries costing about $300 per kWh.
Vision for 2020 in the works
As part of the initiative, there are plans for a fast-charging network with innovations that include up to 350 kW of direct current fast charging. According to the administration, a 500-mile range battery could be charged with a 350 KW DC system in about 10 minutes.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is leading an initiative called Battery500, a research consortium. The aim is to build a cheaper, lighter and more powerful battery, making EV’s more pocketbook-friendly. Basically, the goal is to triple the energy of current batteries to 500 Wh/kg, with 1,000 electric vehicle cycles, while lowering the cost to below $100/KWh.
The primary goal with this latest push toward zero-emissions is to help in financing new technology and innovative projects that would otherwise have a difficult time finding funding. All in all, it sounds very exciting.