White House proposes standards for national EV charging network

Chargers might be more reliable and easier to use.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

The White House now wants to set minimum requirements for its planned national EV charging network, The Biden administration has proposed standards for chargers funded under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program to ensure they're "convenient, affordable, reliable and accessible" for a wide variety of drivers and vehicles. Ideally, you won't have to worry about completing a cross-country trip.

The standards would require that stations offer enough ports to fast-charge four EVs simultaneously at 150kW or higher, and use the CCS plug often found at universal chargers. The chargers would have to be functional at least 97 percent of the time, with a skilled workforce to keep them maintained. You also wouldn't have to worry about how you'll pay. There would be "similar" payment systems, and station operators couldn't require a membership. Common data standards would ensure real-time charge status regardless of your EV model.

President Biden is using NEVI to help states build 500,000 chargers by 2030, and hopes the program will spur EV adoption to the point where 50 percent of new vehicle sales are electric by 2030. The standards could play a key role in this — you might be more likely to buy an EV if you know you can charge quickly, without waiting in long queues.

There are limitations. The proposal wouldn't cover chargers outside of NEVI, of course, so you'd still have to watch out for slow or cumbersome stations. It's also unclear how well the charging specs would hold up over time. While a minimum of four 150kW ports may sound adequate now, that might not remain true by 2030 — Tesla already has 250kW Superchargers, and there's still the possibility that EV sales could outpace charger installations. If the standards take effect, though, you'll at least have a baseline you can use to plan your routes.