Two EV bills have been introduced into Congress, but their regional approach has created divisions in the auto industry.
Many electric vehicle advocates believe that by 2040, 75 percent of the light-duty miles Americans travel could be done so via electric propulsion. But if there is any chance for electric vehicles (EVs) to take up anything more than a sliver of the global automobile market, there needs to be coordinated support and planning at the federal level to get things moving in the right direction (and keep them moving).
There are two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, making their way through Congress right now that would seem to give the budding EV industry a needed boost and provide it with some long-term security to increase private investment. Supporters say that passage of either bill could reduce oil consumption by 6.2 million barrels of oil a day.
The differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill are marginal, but both versions focus on a regional approach to stimulating the EV market -- an approach that is arguably necessary for building robust local charging networks (as well as robust local demand to keep those charging stations in business). On Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard statements from industry representatives, both in support and opposition of a bill that would provide incentives to consumers to purchase electric vehicles and grants to selected communities to demonstrate widespread deployment of electric vehicles.
The bill would give rebates of at least $2,000 per car to the first 100,000 consumers purchasing EVs in each of the five chosen pilot communities and up to a $2,000 tax credit on the purchase and installation of charging equipment. Businesses could get a much larger $50,000 credit for purchase and installation of multiple charging stations -- the kind of charging infrastructure need to support widespread adoption of EVs.
The bill would also award $800 million to 5 different deployment communities around the country, with the objective of deploying 700,000 electric vehicles in those communities within six years.
"Deployments at the city level would bring together the key stakeholders to provide the infrastructure and services that enable the electric vehicle owner to have a satisfactory experience," says Oliver Hazimeh, Director and head of the global e-Mobility practice at worldwide management consulting firm PRTM.
The regional approach of the two bills is also being supported by a non-profit industry group called the Electrification Coalition. The coalition iscomprised mostly of CEOs from companies like PG&E, Nissan, Coda, Cisco and FedEx, all companies that have made significant commitments to EV deployment.
But the regional approach of the bill also has its detractors. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing Detroit's Big Three carmakers, Toyota and seven other automakers, opposes the measure. The Alliance's broad constituency is pushing for a bill that would do more than support localized EV market niches.
"We believe the legislation should allow manufacturers, fuel providers and communities the flexibility to invest in multiple electric drive pathways, including fuel cell electric vehicle and related hydrogen infrastructure," said Kathryn Clay, the group's research director, in a statement issued to the Senate on Tuesday.
"We have significant concerns about an approach that would limit investments to a handful of communities, particularly at such an early stage of electric vehicle deployment. This creates a small number of communities that would 'win' and receive significant federal dollars while the rest of country loses out."
The cost of the EV bills are estimated at somewhere between $6 billion and $12 billion. But there is also a chance that an EV bill could be attached as a rider or amendment to the climate and energy bill currently being considered by Congress.