Uber calls for greater investment in downtown electric vehicles

Ride-sharing company Uber is urging the federal government to invest more in electric vehicles (EVs) in poor and downtown neighborhoods, arguing that those areas should be prioritized for new infrastructure.

Uber made the call in a comment to the Department of Transportation as the DOT works to support the development of a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations. Uber said “traditional EV policies” have ignored anyone who doesn’t own a private car.

Federal and private investments “have over-prioritized residential billing for homeowners in high-income areas,” Uber wrote, adding that funding electrification — and the emissions and quality benefits air – have bypassed the poorest communities.

The ride-sharing company argued there was a tax benefit to bringing electric charging to high-density, low-income urban areas where many people ride-share, such as Uber.

“External peer-reviewed research shows that when rideshare drivers switch to electric vehicles, they can achieve three times the emissions savings of when average car owners do. Our own analysis suggests that up to four times the emissions savings are possible in this scenario,” Uber wrote.

Funding for a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations was included in last year’s roughly $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which President BidenJoe BidenWhite House lights up in red, white and blue to cheer on Team USA for the Olympics. The governor of Kansas vetoes the proposed redistricting map. signed mid-November.

The law provided about $5 billion in funding to states to build an “interconnected network of electric vehicle charging stations along highway corridors,” according to the Federal Highway Administration, with about $2 billion more in grants for projects that increase accessibility to charging electric vehicles and “alternative fuels.”

The Biden administration wants to install 500,000 chargers to support electric vehicles, which they hope will represent 50% of new cars by 2030. It is now up to the DOT and the Department of Energy (DOE) to determine any the rest on charging stations, where they go and who can install them according to the electrical standard they use and how far away they will be.

These are decisions that will have an outsized impact for decades on how Americans work, travel, live and play — especially since, with Biden’s Build Back Better Act stalled in Congress, he won’t It’s unclear if more federal electrification dollars will arrive soon. .

Adding to the tension is the fact that electrification money is structured as a “formula grant,” where states can only get money for projects if they meet certain federal standards, like number charging stations per person, per block or per mile.

Uber depends on the ability of its drivers – who disproportionately rent homes and generally have lower incomes – to charge their cars, and therefore wants to see investment in public charging infrastructure.

The company is not alone in touting the sustainability benefits of such an investment. In its commentary, the World Resources Institute (WRI) also asked the DOT to invest in electric charging stations mounted on street lamps – “an innovative and convenient solution for providing drivers with public charging on the street”, which, according to him, can be up to 70% cheaper than a ground loader and less likely to flood.

Comments that have poured in recently at the DOT offer insight into the companies’ differing views on the future of the transportation system.

Fossil fuel company Shell Oil, for example, is investing in renewables — $3.2 billion since 2016 — but has spent about 25 times as much over the same period on its oil business. In its letter, Shell proposes an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes funding refueling of methane and hydrogen, both of which are currently produced from fossil fuels.

TravelCenters of America (TA) recommended that the federal government consider the driver’s recharging needs for snacks, entertainment and a clean bathroom — and the cost savings that come from partnering with a company that has already shown that it can provide these things.

“With one of its typical travel hubs located on 25 acres of land, TA has the scale and proximity to infrastructure to incorporate low-carbon fuels and alternative energy resources into its wide range of travel offerings. fuel,” the organization wrote.

Like Shell, TA has advocated the use of on-site battery storage powered by on-site power generation to charge local “micro-grids” for motorists. He did not specify that this electricity production should come from renewable sources and, like Shell, he advocates “alternative fuels”.

And Tesla, the leading maker of electric vehicles as well as storage batteries, has argued for a charging system built around large charging, shopping and entertainment complexes like its own existing supercharger facilities – or gas stations. current TA services.

“The impacts on customer experience are minimal or non-existent if 2 stalls are temporarily offline in a 20-stall charging station. But the customer experience can be woefully poor if 2 stalls go offline in a 4-stall station”, the company wrote.

Like TA’s proposal, Tesla’s involves storing energy in huge on-site batteries – but rather than recharging them from on-site power plants, it would strike deals with local electric utilities .

The Western Governors Association, pointing to the critical highways that traverse the sparsely populated and lightly electrified swathes of its members, called for both the federal government to pay a higher share of the cost of the installation and that it does not impose on Wyoming or Montana the same level of electricity charge density as California or New York.

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