Living With Climate Change: Biden to tell Detroit Auto Show that first $900 million to fill gaps in EV charging network is on its way


President Biden hits the Detroit Auto Show Wednesday, where the classic Corvette owner will surely slide behind a few wheels, and more importantly for an industry shifting ever closer to electric vehicle adoption, he’ll announce the first allotment of federal dollars for expanding the EV charger network.

Biden on Wednesday afternoon is expected to extoll what his administration believes is a pro-EV agenda, mostly through already announced spending in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Biden will announce the approval of the first $900 million in infrastructure funding to build EV chargers across 53,000 miles of the national highway system and across 35 states, the White House said.

The president will also highlight EV tax credits and rebates within the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act, an effort that some auto experts point out is too limiting for the makes and models most readily available now, but could still incentivize more manufacturing and consumer uptake down the road.

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For now, the incentives are largely linked to U.S. production for batteries, domestic assembly and more, while the industry still greatly relies on offshore materials and parts. General Motors GM, -0.10% and others TSLA, +3.46% have recently announced U.S.-based battery partnerships.

Biden will also stress that the CHIPS and Science Act he signed this summer will help the auto industry. It is intended to ease supply chain challenges in promoting domestic production of semiconductor chips AMD, +0.50% INTC, +0.29% and other technology necessary as cars, trucks and SUVs become more like computers and much less mechanical.

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Biden is expected to talk to union workers, CEOs and local leaders at the auto show, who will all play a role as the administration positions “the United States to lead the electric vehicle future — creating more jobs and making more in America all while fighting climate change,” the White House said in a statement.

Biden’s transportation team previously announced plans that call for new or upgraded charging stations every 50 miles throughout the web of Interstates and other larger highways with roadside services. Each station would need to have at least four fast-charger ports, which enable drivers to fully recharge their vehicles in about an hour. Many early adopters of EVs typically charge overnight at home or at work if their office provides chargers.

Most consumers still holding on to gasoline-powered RB00, +2.09% cars and access to quick fill-ups at roadside pumps say that charging range anxiety, as well as the relative higher upfront cost of EVs keeps them from making the jump, though they provide cheaper ownership over the long haul.

Read: Americans want EV tax incentives. But are they ready to lose gas cars forever?

Still, the industry is clearly headed toward EVs; how fast remains the question.

Since Biden took office, companies including Toyota TM, +1.41%, Honda 7267, -1.51%, Ford Motor Co. F, -0.27%, GM and Panasonic 6752, -2.19% have announced investments of nearly $85 billion to make EVs, batteries, and EV chargers across America, including in North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Kansas.

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