Tesla, other EV manufacturers, and environmental groups are lobbying the Biden administration to invest in charging infrastructure for electric buses, trucks, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs). Stimulating the transition to electric vehicles in this segment is the key to significantly reducing polluting emissions.
The group wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to allocate 10 percent of the money earmarked for electric vehicle charging in a bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIL) signed in November 2021 for medium and heavy-duty EVs. They noted that much of the discussion about this investment has focused on passenger car charging infrastructure, but the wider picture needs to be looked at. The share of heavy vehicles on the roads of the U.S. is only 10%, but they account for 45% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the transport sector, 57% of its fine particulate matter pollution, and 28% of global warming emissions.
“Much of the discussion around this investment has understandably focused on charging infrastructure for light-duty vehicles. After all, that's the class of vehicles most Americans drive. But while heavy-duty vehicles make up only ten percent of all vehicles on roads in the United States, they contribute 45 percent of the transportation sector's nitrogen oxide pollution, 57percent of its fine particulate matter pollution, and 28 percent of its global warming emissions. The pollution from these vehicles disproportionately impacts low-income and underserved communities.”
Some companies are offering a solution to the problem of excessive pollution by building electric buses and trucks. For example, Tesla is preparing to deliver its Class 8 truck. When fully loaded, Tesla Semi should cover over 500 miles thanks to its aerodynamics and high-performance motors. Thus, this truck will be able to reach an efficiency of over 0.5 miles per kWh. While most heavy trucking journeys are shorter than 500 miles, the company is committed to ensuring long-distance hauls are also sustainable. Tesla is currently developing a Semi charger network at trucking rest stops across the U.S. and Europe, where each Tesla Semi could top up its range. However, the development of charging infrastructure by the U.S. for the entire sector is urgently needed.
For now, access to charging remains a major barrier to the adoption of electric buses, trucks, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Much of the public electric vehicle charging infrastructure has been designed and built with passenger cars in mind. In fact, charging stations are small and have been placed in space in such a way that they remain inaccessible to large vehicles. The group points out that if the U.S. MHDV fleet goes electric, then the charging infrastructure built under the BIL will need to accommodate its unique needs. Therefore, it is asking the Biden administration to encourage states to develop charging infrastructure designed to serve MHDVs.
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