Kamala Harris Highlights $5B Plan for Vehicle Charging Stations Across U.S.

Vice President Kamala Harris detailed a new plan Monday for the federal government to support the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the United States with $5 billion from last month's $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Harris outlined the plan while visiting a maintenance facility in Maryland with an electric vehicle charging station, emphasizing the importance of increasing access to electric cars across the country, at every level of the economic landscape.

She said the Biden administration wants "to make electric vehicles accessible for everyone...Absolutely make it accessible for everyone and easy. Just like filling up your car with gas."

The $2 trillion Build Back Better bill of spending across various social and environmental programs currently in the Senate includes incentives for the building and sale of electric vehicles, including a $7,500 tax credit to help lower the cost of the vehicles.

The $5 billion from the infrastructure law will be distributed to states to assist with building more charging stations across the country, with another $2.5 billion in local grants and programs to incentivize the construction of charging stations in rural areas and disadvantaged communities.

The details of the plan come after Biden signed an executive order last week to make the federal government carbon neutral by 2050, with significant commitments to electric vehicles, pledging to make the government's 600,000-car fleet into all-electric vehicles by 2035.

By 2030, Biden has said he wants half of new vehicle sales to be electric, which would be a massive increase from the estimated 2.6 percent this year.

The LMC Automotive consulting firm estimated sales to be about 400,000 this year, doubling last year, and projects over 730,000 sold next year and 2 million by 2025. At 2 million sold, electric vehicles would represent about 12 percent of new vehicle sales.

Kamala Harris, Electric Vehicle Charging, Infrastructure
Vice President Kamala Harris charges an electric vehicle in one of the charging stations during her tour of the Brandywine Maintenance Facility in Prince George's County, Maryland. Harris made the appearance to highlight the electric vehicle investments in the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Build Back Better Act Monday. Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

"The future of transportation in our nation and around the world is electric," Harris said at an EV charging facility in suburban Maryland.

Harris visited a maintenance facility in Brandywine, just outside Washington, where she received a demonstration of how chargers work and learned about a plan to electrify the government fleet in Maryland's Prince George's County.

"There's no sound or fume!" Harris exclaimed as a local worker demonstrated the charger. "How do I know it's actually working?"

The car is fully charged when it's blinking green, the worker told her.

The new EV charging strategy establishes a joint electric vehicles office between the federal Energy and Transportation departments; issues guidance and standards for states; and ensures consultations with manufacturers, state and local governments, environmental justice and civil rights groups, tribes and others, the White House said.

The two departments also will launch an advisory committee on electric vehicles that officials hope will be up and running early next year.

Accelerated adoption of electric vehicles for personal cars and commercial fleets would help achieve Biden's goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 while creating thousands of jobs, the White House said.

The effort also is intended to help the U.S. leapfrog China in the plug-in EV market. Currently, the U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle sales is one-third the size of the Chinese EV market.

Republicans, including some who voted in favor of the new infrastructure law, have criticized Biden for being preoccupied with electric vehicle technology when Americans are contending with a spike in gasoline and natural gas prices.

Biden last month ordered a record 50 million barrels of oil released from America's strategic reserve, in coordination with other major energy-consuming nations. Gas prices have fallen in recent weeks as fears grow of another possible economic slowdown from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Average prices on Sunday were $3.33 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association, down about 7 cents from late last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kamala Harris, Electric Vehicle Charging, Infrastructure
Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the Prince George’s County Brandywine Maintenance Facility Monday in Brandywine, Maryland. During the visit Harris announced the Biden Administration's new Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan that works to fast-track investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and create a joint electric vehicles office between the departments of Energy and Transportation. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images