Although less reported than the federal announcement, the Federal Highway Association (FHWA) also released detailed National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) standards and requirements to the public. These standards are a huge step forward in supporting EV adoption and are designed to ensure that future drivers don’t have to worry about charging on the go. The guidelines aim to make charging:
- Predictable, by establishing consistent plug types, power levels, and a minimum number of chargers capable of supporting fast charging
- Reliable by ensuring that chargers are working when drivers need them with 97% functional reliability
- Easy. Drivers can easily find a charger when they need to thanks to publicly accessible data on locations, price, availability, and accessibility
- Convenient. Drivers will not have to use multiple apps and accounts to charge, making the experience just like gas refueling
- Chargers will support drivers’ needs well into the future, requiring compatibility with forward-looking capabilities like Plug and Charge and Vehicle to Grid integration
As Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, "No matter what EV you drive, we want to make sure that you will be able to plug in, know the price you're going to be paying and charge up in a predictable, user-friendly experience."
"No matter what EV you drive, we want to make sure that you will be able to plug in, know the price you're going to be paying and charge up in a predictable, user-friendly experience."
Many are praising the new rules as an important step toward universal, equitable charging, including the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN), a global association focused on charging standards. CharIN North America Board Chair Oleg Logvinov said, “WiFi and cellular phones are great examples of how open standards have changed the world. The exponential growth of EV adoption was just unlocked today by these NEVI requirements.”
In another article, we cover the policy changes regarding EV charging stations, and the notable private-sector participation in the project, but it’s worth taking a look at how these new policies affect EV charger design and manufacturing and what it means for American drivers.
Now, let’s dive into the details - what are the new requirements?
Details about Charger Types, Locations, and Speed
- The establishment of Alternate Fuel Corridors (AFCs). These are designated roads and highways where EV chargers are to be placed at least 50 miles apart. This minimum distance is meant to make road trips and highway journeys possible for even older, short range EV drivers.
- At each station, there must be a minimum of 4 ports, in order to cut down on wait time and give drivers options in case one port is not working. These ports can be Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) or Level 2 alternating current (AC) or a combination. DCFC charging stations installed along a designated AFC must have at least four network-connected DCFC charging ports.
- Each DCFC port must have at least one Combined Charging System (CCS) connector, which is quickly becoming the industry standard for fast charging. At this point, the other commonly used fast charge type is the proprietary Tesla connector. Companies such as Nissan, which has previously relied on CHAdeMO, have switched over to CCS. This rule means that Tesla must add CCS chargers to its charging stations if they are to qualify for any funding or reimbursement under the NEVI program.
- Each DCFC located along a designated AFC must simultaneously deliver up to 150kW and each AC Level 2 port must be capable of providing at least 6 kW per port simultaneously across all AC ports. While customers can still accept a lower power level at these ports, it sets a faster charge standard and allows drivers to anticipate and plan how long their breaks may take. Out of the common EVs on the road, almost all of the newer models accept at least 150 kW at DC chargers.
Logistics and Convenience
- Charging stations along designated AFCs must be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Charging stations not along AFCs must be available for use and accessible to the public at least during the business operating hours of the site.
- Charging stations must provide a contactless payment method that accepts major credit and debit cards and through either an automated toll-free phone number or SMS. Payment methods must be accessible to persons with disabilities, not require a membership, not affect the power flow to vehicles, and provide access for those that are limited English proficient.
- EV charging customers must have a mechanism to report issues with charging infrastructure.
- Information on publicly available EV charging infrastructure locations, pricing, real time availability, and accessibility must be available, free of charge, to third party software developers. This allows apps such as PlugShare to report accurate information about charger occupancy and cost to recharge. It will also mean that car manufacturers can integrate this data into their navigation systems and that new route planning apps will develop.
- The real-time price for EV charging, including any fees, must be clearly displayed and explained. This will avoid surprises at the charger and help plan road trip expenses.
- Each charging port must have an average annual uptime greater than 97 percent. Since charger reliability is a big pain point for current EV drivers, and making national headlines, ensuring that chargers are serviced and maintained will go a long way to improving ownership.
These new standards inspire dreams of cross-country EV road trips, plugging into DC Fast Chargers at rest areas along vast Alternative Fuel Corridors, and spontaneously cruising the highway without ever having to worry about being stranded somewhere without power. They mean no longer downloading multiple apps or advanced planning. With EV manufacturing already booming, it looks like America is driving straight into an electric future, where EV charging is fast and easy and smelly gas stations are a thing of the past.
Written by River James, a writer, editor, and researcher based in San Diego, California. For her personal thoughts and musings, check out her Substack.