Detroit's EV revolution hinges on equitable, affordable charging
The electric vehicle movement is growing nationwide, but people who live in apartments, low-income neighborhoods and rural areas without easy charging access could get left behind, Axios' Joann Muller reports.
Why it matters: Despite trying to position itself as a mobility pioneer with projects at the Michigan Central train depot and the Joe Louis Greenway, Detroit's lack of widespread access to EV chargers remains a work in progress.
- If the benefits of cleaner transportation — better air quality, less noise, lower energy costs — don't flow equitably to all Americans, EV adoption is likely to stall, limiting the country's ability to achieve its climate goals.
- In a first of its kind study, U of M researchers found that even if all gas-powered cars were replaced with EVs, the lowest-income U.S. households would keep experiencing the highest transportation energy burdens.
Zoom in: Many of Detroit's public charging stations are downtown and along the Woodward corridor, with gaps in surrounding neighborhoods.
- A recent Axios analysis found that public chargers are easier to find in whiter, wealthier neighborhoods.
Driving the news: Michigan and the federal government are trying to spur more investment in public charging.
- The 2021 federal infrastructure law includes $5 billion for highway chargers and $2.5 billion for other community charging sites.
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's new state budget proposal includes $65 million to expand EV charging infrastructure and access, although it's unclear how that will roll out in Detroit.
What they're saying: For lower-income communities to enjoy lower fuel costs and environmental benefits of EVs, more wealthy households must embrace the transition.
- Purchases of new EVs will increase the availability of used models, making them more affordable, Gregory Keoleian, a co-author of the U of M study, tells Axios.
- "Low-income communities need to participate, but it has to be affordable," Keoleian says.
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