US government may need more than 100,000 charging stations: Testimony

U.S. charging station market grows in demand


WASHINGTON: The US government may need more than 100,000 charging stations to support widespread electric vehicle use, a government watchdog told a congressional hearing on Tuesday (Apr 5).


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in testimony that as of March, federal agencies own about 1,100 charging stations. President Joe Biden in December signed an executive order directing the US government to end purchases of gas-powered vehicles by 2035.


The House Oversight and Reform Committee is holding a hearing on the US Postal Service's (USPS) plans to buy mostly gas-powered next-generation delivery vehicles. USPS is not covered by Biden's executive order.


Less than 0.3 per cent of the government's 657,000 vehicles were electric as of 2020, or 1,777. In 2020, the government spent US$4.2 billion on vehicle costs, including US$730 million for fuel.


The General Services Administration (GSA) on Tuesday said that as of March 10, federal agencies have ordered an additional 1,854 zero-emission vehicles since the prior report.


The GAO noted that the GSA has been able to negotiate lower purchase prices for some EV models, saying that the "GSA negotiated a discounted price for the Chevrolet Bolt in fiscal year 2021 - at almost US$10,000 below its market retail price."


The US government typically purchases about 50,000 vehicles annually. Biden's executive order said that light-duty vehicles acquired by the government will be what the White House calls "emission free" by 2027.


That "emission free" definition includes plug-in hybrid EVs that also have a gasoline-powered engine.


Congress approved infrastructure legislation last year providing US$7.5 billion to build out a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers.


The Biden administration endorsed separate legislation last year to provide US$9 billion for USPS and federal government to buy EVs and charging stations that remains stalled.


Biden has resisted calls to endorse California's plan to end the sale of new light-duty gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

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