Broken EV chargers have been in the news a lot recently. It’s not just Tesla, either. Have you tried charging at an Electrify America station? Not exactly seamless. From a brand-agnostic standpoint, broken chargers are an issue stymieing EV adoption—and the U.S. government recognizes that.
Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily rundown on today’s important EV and automotive tech news. Today, we’ll talk about the U.S.’s efforts to fix broken chargers across the country. Plus, the auto industry is pushing lawmakers to change the tax law to incentivize EV development, and Europe is pushing for digital “battery passports.”
30%: U.S. Pledges $150 Million to Fix Broken EV Chargers
A new announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation reveals that the U.S. has pledged nearly $150 million in funding to fix and revitalize as older EV chargers in 20 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Washington D.C.
While the U.S. is chugging away at installing upwards of 125 new EV chargers every single day in order to reach its goal of 500,000 public EV chargers by 2030, it’s important that the existing chargers also get maintained. After all, infrastructure needs to be reliable, and what good are chargers that can’t charge? Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt told Reuters that the U.S. anticipates that charger reliability will be less of an issue in the future.
We know there’s going to be more demand for the technology. We anticipate reliability being less of an issue going forward.
It’s not clear if the government believes that newer tech is more reliable, or if programs are being developed by charger providers to quickly identify faults and regularly service equipment, but reliable charging is of paramount importance for EV adoption.
The funding, which is part of the existing $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, will be used to fix nearly 4,500 existing EV charging ports, with the majority being located in California, Colorado, New York, Oregon and Washington. A full list of the grant recipients and the number of estimated chargers can be found here.
60%: Automakers Want First-Year R&D Tax Deductions Back to Grow EV Development
As part of a 2017 tax law, the federal tax expenditure rules changed in 2022 to require the amortization of research and development expenses to be realized over a five-year period. Previously, businesses could deduct 100% of U.S.-based R&D expenses during the tax period in which the expense occurred. But under the current provisions, the business must instead deduct 20% of the expense each year over the following five years.
Automakers and other groups have since complained that this change has resulted in less of a financial incentive to innovate, and could potentially risk the U.S. falling behind other countries in the automotive space—namely EVs and other zero-emissions tech.
Now, five automotive industry trade groups (The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, American Automotive Policy Council, Autos Drive America, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association) have penned a joint letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to revise the rule and allow for “a two-year retroactive (at the election of the taxpayer), and two-year prospective restoration of first year deductibility of R&D,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by Automotive News.
Quick restoration of this important tool will enhance U.S. job creation, innovation and national security. It will also help ensure that major innovations in our sector—such as those fueling the electric vehicle and other zero-emission technologies, automated vehicles and the connected vehicle future—can be led from the United States.
The letter comes just after the the Senate Finance Committee introduced a bipartisan tax framework earlier this week. The package unveiled as part of this framework also includes language which would allow business to immediately deduct the cost of U.S.-based R&D investments, the exact change that the industry trade groups are fighting for.
“By incentivizing R&D, this plan is also going to promote innovation and help sharpen our economic competitiveness with China and the rest of the world,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said in a statement.
Whether or not any further action will be taken is still an unknown.
90%: EU Soon to Require ‘Battery Passports’ for EVs
New EVs will soon need a digital “battery passport” to be sold in the European Union. Starting in 2027, this digital document will be linked to a car’s Vehicle Identification Number and a QR code displayed somewhere on the vehicle.
When scanned, the document will sourcing-related details directly related to that particular vehicle. This includes information like assembly location and where the raw materials for the battery was sourced. It will also contain more consumer-friendly information about the battery, like capacity and condition.
Ellen Carey, Chief External Affairs Officer at Circulor (a company that specializes in these battery passports) told AutoCar that the passports will cost between $7 and $14 per battery. But with that cost comes a full report of how materials are sourced all the way through the supply chain. This is a goal for new EU battery regulations which require automakers to disclose this information and work to incorporate higher percentages of recycled materials throughout the next decade.
Many [manufacturers] don’t know their supply chain and often the [suppliers] are changing about three or four times a year, based on the contracts which, especially in the mid-tier section, are changing based on lower cost. It becomes less about procurement and procuring supplies and more about supply chain visibility and management to distribute the accountability across the whole thing.
These passports are an EU-only requirement, at least for now. In the U.S., automakers are required to submit similar information to the government in order to be approved for the $7,500 Clean Vehicle Tax Credit, but that information won’t make it to the consumer in the same detail that Europe’s passports will.
At the end of the day, the goal here is to provide greater transparency to the consumer, for the driver to be able to know where the raw materials for their car’s battery were sourced from and to make informed decisions based on the equipment’s health. At under $14 for the battery passport, that level of transparency seems like a pretty good deal.
100%: Do Used EVs Scare You?
Speaking of battery health, let’s take a minute to talk about used EVs. It’s true that EVs require less maintenance than traditional gas-powered cars, but they also have certain larger components that could leave owners with a heavy bill should they go bad. Think items like the drive unit or high-voltage battery.
That being said, does the idea of a used EV scare you? Are you the type of consumer to purchase a new EV and sell it when the warranty ends, or will you buy something used off of a lot and drive it until the wheels fall off? And, most of all, would one of those fancy battery passports help you make an informed decision on whether or not to buy a used EV? Let us know down in the comments.