There should be a robust public education program directed to Black and Brown communities about electrification. We are moving toward a cleaner and carbon-free environment over the next 10 years, and we need to be a better-informed community to jump on board.
Urban consumers will need information to make good decisions about the leap to electric vehicles. Advertisements that promote and market the newest bright and shiny objects in the form of electric vehicles are everywhere. However, urban consumers are slow to make the leap to purchase these shiny new objects. What are the reasons behind this hesitancy?
It has been noted that there aren’t enough EV charging stations in urban areas which fuels anxiety. However, the Biden Infrastructure Investment Act requires states to have a charging station within a mile of every interstate and every 50 miles along the route. The Biden administration has also provided federal funding to support private businesses whose focus is to manufacture EV charging stations.
The legislation and investment will create thousands of well-paying jobs. However, it’s important to assess the challenges and opportunities associated with the provision to support EV operations and electrification across the midwestern states and their urban centers.
The timing of installing a broad EV charging station network lies with electric companies who must modernize their grids. Utilities infrastructure investment plans often deprioritize low-income communities of color in favor of wealthier areas.
Detroit also needs more businesses to build EV technology. There are at least two companies here in Detroit that will manufacture EV charging stations, Dunamis Energy Partners in North Detroit and Plug Zen – both are Black owned.
Everyday there seems to be an announcement for the development of EV battery plants. Some don’t know that the components that go into the manufacturing of an EV battery come from foreign countries that the United States does not do business with. The actual minerals that go into the development of an EV battery – lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, copper – are hard to get and will make production difficult to scale. However, Next Energy and Gotion, a Chinese-based facility, are making plans to create two new battery plants in Michigan.
Additionally, we must consider the wealth gap as we change over from internal combustion engines to EVs. Some who hail from underserved communities think that EVs are too expensive to purchase, new or used. There are also inflationary factors that might inhibit adoption and consumers are unaware of the purchase incentives. The Biden Inflation Reduction Act can provide up to $7,500 in tax credits for the purchase of a new EV and up to $2,500 for the purchase of a used EV.
We will also need tax credits at the time of purchase. Customers may not be able to wait for the rebate. Lastly, how do residents find out about the efficiencies and advantages of EVs when they are not being marketed to and there is just not enough public information to make the leap to EVs?
One of the efficiencies that is not widely discussed is the maintenance of EVs, or the fact that there are no more than 9-10 components of an EV that might need to be repaired or replaced whereas there are hundreds of components of an internal combustible engine that can break down because of normal wear and tear. They don’t make things the way they used to, but that’s another subject for another article.
Consumers can and should do their own homework, but it is incumbent on those who wish to profit off of the ever-growing EV market that should bear the responsibility to create two-way communication. All of the above are reasons that there is a slow transition to EVs.
Terrence Hicks is the managing principal at Metro Strategies, Inc., which develops policy-oriented initiatives that allow small businesses to compete, and is a workforce development and community relations strategist.