Biden pushes for more electric cars, Duke professors explain challenges

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Last week’s gas crunch was nothing to worry about for electric car drivers.
Increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road is a big goal for the Biden administration.

The president wants to phase out gasoline-fueled vehicles, making all new vehicle sales electric by 2035.

Right now, 90 percent of cars on the road are gasoline fueled.

“The American auto industry is at a crossroads. The real question is whether we’ll lead or we’ll fall behind in the race to the future,” said President Joe Biden while touring the new electric F-150 this week.

The race faces several hurdles.

The first question is how much better electric is for the environment than fuel:

“Some place there is a power plant that’s going to ramp up its output a little bit to meet that load,” said Timothy Johnson, a professor of the practice of energy and the environment at Duke University.

He said electric cars have a lower cost of ownership with more affordable maintenance and powering costs.

Still, they are more expensive to purchase because they require a special battery.

“As battery costs come down, and they continue to, you’re going to see price parity so that will help.”

Finding a convenient place to power up is still a challenge. If you live in a rental or have on-street parking, there are barriers to charging a vehicle.

It’s why professor Jennifer Weiss at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions says we need more charging stations.

“As a Leaf owner, that was my biggest concern is range anxiety. And I think I stopped using my car when there was 40 miles charged,” Weiss said.

She said we need them in places people frequent like grocery stores, places of work or shopping centers.

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The Biden administration is pushing for investments to create 500,000 new charging stations across the country. It’s part of the president’s proposed infrastructure plan.

“It’s so important to build out infrastructure in our rural areas so we can get people where they need to go,” Weiss said.

She says getting people to just test drive electric cars could help. Electric vehicles are almost rate dealership lots creating a risk for lot owners.

“It’s the chicken and the egg. I don’t know if I should put them there, if people are going to come buy them, or if i should just buy them as needed,” Weiss said.

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