Jan 19, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Biden's charging push: White House scrambles as EV momentum risks slowing

Illustration of a close up suit lapel with a glowing lighting bolt pin

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The White House is scrambling to ensure U.S. EV adoption doesn't lose its charge amid signs — albeit limited — of slowing momentum.

Why it matters: The charging focus gives Biden officials a way to promote EVs even though a fairly limited number of models — for now — are eligible for $7,500 purchase subsidies.

  • They're also emphasizing charging-related jobs as polls show worrying political signs for President Biden on the economy.

Driving the news: The Treasury Department on Friday morning announced plans for implementing household and business tax breaks up to 30% for installing charging equipment.

  • The wonky but important part: Its definition of census tracts eligible for credits under the 2022 climate law is broad, covering two-thirds of the U.S. population, officials said.

State of play: It's among several charging initiatives that have been unveiled in recent days.

  • On Thursday, the Transportation Department announced nearly $150 million in grants to repair and replace nearly 4,000 existing charging ports across 20 states.
  • Last week brought $623 million in DOT grants for cities and rural regions nationwide to install public charging.

The big picture: Polling shows that charging access gives drivers pause about going electric.

  • For instance, a new Deloitte survey shows 40%-42% of U.S. respondents call it their greatest concern about EVs.

Catch up fast: The latest moves are part of a much wider charging push, much of it enabled by the 2021 infrastructure law that devotes billions of dollars to building a national network.

  • However, the first of these taxpayer-funded chargers have only begun opening recently.

The intrigue: The White House is rebutting perceptions that the U.S. EV transition is losing steam.

  • They're emphasizing a wide angle, noting that sales have more than quadrupled under Biden.
  • However, while U.S. sales are still rising, the growth rate appears to be easing a bit, and Detroit automakers GM and Ford have been tempering expectations.
  • The latest sign of these tempered expectations arrived just this morning when, via Bloomberg, Ford said it's scaling back production of its F-150 Lighting electric pickup.
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