Editorial: We need a charging network to accommodate electric vehicles

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If Congress follows through on a proposal to provide billions of dollars for electric-vehicle charging stations, Gov. Eric Holcomb has taken a strong step toward making sure Indiana gets its fair share.

Holcomb, a Republican, last week joined a compact with four Democratic governors in the Midwest to forge a network for charging electric vehicles across a five-state region.

Holcomb and the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin signed a memorandum of understanding to create REV Midwest—the Regional Electric Vehicle Coalition.

It’s a smart move when you consider that the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden and his supporters in Congress are trying to push through a $1 trillion infrastructure package that includes funding for electric-charging networks.

Even though that package is politically gridlocked at the moment, Holcomb’s willingness to join a bipartisan effort puts Indiana in a great position to benefit once the logjam breaks.

The coalition is not just about building a charging network. It also aims to grow the region’s share of electric vehicle production jobs and capacity and to promote clean energy.

Indiana already is making progress on that front. At roughly the same time the governors were announcing their compact, the first electric van was being prepared to roll off the assembly line at the Electric Last Mile Solutions Inc. plant in Mishawaka.

According to Bloomberg News, the van is among the first of its kind in the U.S. market: a fully electric, light-duty vehicle meant for delivery workers, contractors and other commercial fleets.

And, fittingly, it rolled out of the same factory that just a few years ago was producing gas-guzzling Hummers.

The factory’s revival illustrates the inevitability of the shift toward electric vehicles. The transition is coming, and it’s wise for the governor to make sure Indiana is at the forefront of the change.

Biden has set a goal of having half of the vehicles sold in the United States to be battery electric, fuel-cell electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

It is an ambitious goal and will be an enormous shift in an industry now dominated by gasoline-fueled vehicles.

Indiana has to make sure its companies and workers are ready for the transformation. And that it has an electric-charging network ready to power heavy streams of electric passenger and shipping vehicles.

The creation of an electric-vehicle charging infrastructure alone is expected to create 105,000 jobs across the nation over the next decade, according to the federal Quadrennial Energy Review.

The lack of such an infrastructure now is the last great hurdle in getting more Hoosiers and more companies to convert to cleaner transportation. The anxiety of not knowing where, or if, you can find your next charge is a great barrier to using electric vehicles for long-distance travel.

Holcomb is setting Indiana on the right path to spur the use of electric vehicles and capitalize on the sector’s growth.•


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