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Paving the way for electric vehicles in rural America

By Lucas Nelsen, policy associate, Center for Rural Affairs

Advancement in technology has made electric vehicles a viable option for rural residents, allowing for longer travel ranges and faster charging time. But, charging infrastructure is still limited. Most charging stations are located near major highways or interstate routes, or found throughout urban areas. The lack of charging stations in many rural areas restricts the viability of electric vehicles, either for people who live in rural communities or tourists who wish to visit.

Building out the charging infrastructure faces another hurdle—charging stations are not cheap. Identifying opportunities to invest in electric vehicle chargers is a key piece to bringing this transportation to rural areas.

One option for states to expand charging infrastructure is to use funds from the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust (VW Trust), a result of a settlement between the company and regulators after Volkswagen was found to be cheating on emissions tests. The amount of funds each state receives is based on the number of offending vehicles in each state. States can use these funds to reduce emissions, including using up to 15 percent for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

As states determine where to invest these new funds, policymakers must plan for the future of transportation. Prioritizing the placement of chargers in rural areas will improve access to charging options for small communities and create new corridors of travel for electric vehicles. Better infrastructure will increase the options for reliable and efficient travel for rural America.

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