The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will provide $550 billion over the next five years in support of varied kinds of transportation infrastructure — making it the largest long-term investment in infrastructure and economy in U.S. history.
The IIJA specifically allocates $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. This provision enables a program in which each U.S. state must develop an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan detailing how the state will use its allocated portion of the budget. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is scheduled to approve plans that adhere to the act’s guidelines by Sept. 30.
The Secretary of Transportation will only approve a state’s plan for alternative fuel corridors when it adheres to the following requirements:
- Flexibility for drivers. Electric vehicle charging sites should be implemented every 50 miles along each state’s part of an interstate while staying within 1 mile of the highway system, although exceptions can be granted.
- Simultaneous charging and reasonable charging speed. Each EV charging site must have at least four 150-kW direct-current fast chargers as well as combined charging system ports that are able to charge four electric vehicles at once.
- Proper power resources to execute. Minimum station power capability for each charging site is 600 kW and must be able to support a minimum of 150 kW at each port across four charging ports.
- Miscellaneous requests. Other necessary and appropriate factors may be considered and required, at the secretary’s discretion.
Recommendations to Foster a Reliable User Experience
While transitioning infrastructure to a new, innovative mode of transportation requires the fulfillment of succinct legal criteria, the plan should focus on creating the optimal user experience. To achieve a reliable national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, the key will be coordination among different levels of government, the transportation industry and electricity providers. Here are six helpful recommendations when deploying an efficient national electric vehicle charging infrastructure:
- Coordinate with local utilities. There are numerous locations that meet the stipulated criteria regarding electric vehicle chargers but might not have suitable electric distribution infrastructure. It is important to identify and assess all potential locations through effective collaborations with local utilities.
- Factor in user density. When assessing the number of electric vehicle chargers for each area, note the population density, commute level and major points of interest to help provide the proper placement. For instance, densely populated regions and high-commute corridors should plan for more EV chargers than regions with low population and low-commute corridors. Due to low usage or vandalism, charging stations in some states are considered stranded. It is imperative to take a proactive approach and develop an articulate plan to maintain upkeep on every electric vehicle charging site.
- Build a robust network users rely on. User experience is of utmost importance. To create a reliable network, EV chargers should plan to have an uptime of 97% or more. States should pay special attention to maintaining robustness and collaborating with respective awardees. Also, when designing charging sites, consider electric vehicles that might take up more space than a standard compact car — trucks and cars pulling a trailer, for example, require a reasonable amount of room for charging.
- Plan for interoperability. Standard and interoperable technology for chargers and networks across different states will be needed to provide a reliable experience for drivers of electric vehicles across the country. States should collaborate with one another as well as other stakeholders to deploy unified systems for interconnectivity, data collection, charger availability information, easy charging usage, and simple, transparent payment.
- Protect users through cybersecurity. As with most technologies adopted on a wide scale, cybersecurity is a poignant concern. With the implementation of a system interconnected through the internet, it is critical to consider the protection of Personal Identifiable Information — such as credit card information, or personal details about the driver shared from the vehicle’s own systems — in deployment plans.
- Consider energy storage and onsite energy for resiliency and grid cooperation. Coordinating with local utilities can provide scope for existing energy resources but implementing a new source can help meet grid demands. Installing distributed renewable energy resources like solar arrays and energy storage boosts resiliency and efficiency.
Developing a cohesive electric vehicle infrastructure plan considers design, implementation and long-term operational use. To deploy infrastructure and optimal services, it’s critical to prioritize user experience and safety.
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