Tesla has delivered the first 30 production Model 3’s—the automaker’s mass-market, affordable electric vehicle (EV) that will be available for under $27,500 after a federal tax credit. This marks a potential tipping point for the EV market, but it still leaves more than half a million people waiting to get theirs after putting down $1,000 deposits for the vehicle. And some might ask for their money back if the charging infrastructure network doesn’t catch up to consumer demand.
Thankfully, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) just approved the first cycle of an $800 million investment to accelerate the market for EVs that will deploy charging stations along highways and in communities across the state, increase public awareness of EVs, and make Sacramento a “Green City” for electric transportation. And, earlier this year, the U.S. EPA approved the first cycle of a corresponding $1.2 billion national plan. The combined $2 billion investment by Electrify America, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, represents one part of a consent decree its mother company reached with the federal government and California after it was caught cheating on diesel emissions tests.
The resulting charging network will be available to anyone, removing a potential barrier to widespread EV adoption. Tesla has already invested in its own charging network, not to sell electricity, but to sell cars by providing its customers with confidence they can complete the occasional intercity trip. Electrify America’s network will help provide non-Tesla drivers with the same confidence, though it alone will not be sufficient. Utilities and EV charging companies need to re-double efforts to deploy fast charging stations and “long dwell-time” charging stations (e.g., at workplaces and apartment complexes) to address a growing charging infrastructure gap.
NRDC, The Greenlining Institute, Valley LEAP, Central California Asthma Collaborative, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, the American Lung Association in California, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environment California, Sierra Club, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology, and the Coalition for Clean Air jointly submitted this letter recommending ARB approve Electrify America’s plan, in light of significant improvements that were made to the plan in response to public input.
As noted in the letter, we will continue to engage to ensure Electrify America delivers the benefits promised in the plan approved by ARB last week. In combination with second-generation EVs like the Tesla Model 3, Electrify America’s investments could lay the foundation for a mass-market for EVs.