Ford assembly line
Workers assemble a Ford F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. Credit: Ford Motor Company

The following commentary was written by Alli Gold Roberts, state policy director, and Zach Friedman, federal policy director, at Ceres. See our commentary guidelines for more information.

We are at a crucial period in the shift to electric vehicles. A growing number of companies are moving to electrify their corporate fleets to reduce costs on fuel and maintenance, and the auto industry is making significant investments into battery and vehicle production in the United States — recognizing they need to stay competitive in a changing global market toward clean cars and trucks.

Ambitious public policy — from federal tax credits to the clean vehicle standards adopted by a growing number of states — is helping to grow the market for electric vehicles. Still, there is more work to be done to create the strong, advanced domestic auto and trucking industries we need to meet the growing demand. Achieving that vision will require more collaboration, investments, and policy action. And much of that must go toward building out the infrastructure to support electric vehicles — the charging stations, the supply chains, the workforces, and more.

That is why Congress rightly included strategic investments in domestic electric vehicle and charging infrastructure manufacturing and deployment in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, a historic investment in U.S. competitiveness that was signed into law two years ago this week.  

The law delivered on a generation of urgent calls to invest in U.S. infrastructure, and has already begun delivering billions upon billions of dollars to upgrade and modernize bridges, roads, tunnels, railways, airports, electric grids, water pipes, and much more. Widely supported by the public and private sectors alike, the bipartisan achievement is a testament to the virtue of good-faith collaboration to address a long-term challenge. And that includes building the infrastructure we need to create a more sustainable and forward-looking transportation system by supporting the growth of electric vehicles.

The law’s investments include programs designed to increase ease of electric vehicle charging. Most prominently is the creation of the first-ever national electric vehicle charging network, a $7.5 billion partnership between the federal and state governments. By helping to fund a half-million new chargers across the nation’s highways, the National Electric Vehicle Initiative will provide predictability to motorists that they will be able to charge up on the interstate system every 50 miles or so. Every state submitted a plan to participate in the program, with Ohio as the first to break ground at a charging station near Columbus in October and more states quickly following suit.

The package also brought a $7 billion investment to U.S. electric vehicle supply chains, helping to ensure the most crucial electric vehicle components are made, processed, and assembled here in the U.S. These programs will bolster U.S. energy security by reducing our dependency on international markets as electric vehicles grow in popularity.

And the law’s electric vehicle investments provide a robust foundation for the market to build upon. Manufacturers like Siemens, for example, have expanded their footprint in the U.S. to support the build-out of the charging network, including at a new manufacturing hub in Texas. And through their strike this fall, the United Auto Workers won union representation at battery plants that received investments under the bipartisan infrastructure law — including at Ultium Cells, a joint venture from General Motors that received a $2.5 billion Department of Energy loan for facilities in Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. This victory supports the creation of good-paying jobs and ensures workers and communities benefit from the clean vehicle transition.

At Ceres, the sustainability nonprofit where we each work with companies to support public policies that are good for the climate and the economy, we have seen firsthand as businesses increasingly prioritize technology and solutions that are good for the climate and for their bottom lines. That is why they are increasingly vocal advocates for public policies that help expand electric vehicle growth and reduce vehicle miles traveled.

In 2022, they pushed for passage of the nation’s largest-ever federal climate and clean energy investment, the Inflation Reduction Act and its tax credits designed to encourage both manufacturing and sales of electric vehicles in the U.S. — leading to even greater private investment in electric vehicle manufacturing and infrastructure. And this year, leading businesses are pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize strong anti-pollution standards that would further accelerate the widespread adoption of electric and other clean vehicles, while also providing certainty for their investments, and strengthening the competitiveness of the U.S. auto and trucking industries. 

Businesses have long been among the strongest champions of upgrades to the infrastructure the economy depends on, as seen in the strong corporate support for the 2021 infrastructure bill. And just like roads and bridges are key drivers of economic activity, electric vehicle growth and the ambitious policies to encourage it are only possible with the right infrastructure in place. Two years in, thanks to continued partnership between the public and private sectors, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is now beginning to deliver it.