GOP Senators challenge 'Buy America' waiver for EV charging stations

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GOP Senators challenge 'Buy America' waiver for EV charging stations

Four GOP U.S. senators, Wednesday, challenged a decision made by the Biden administration to exempt "Buy America" rules for government-backed electric vehicle charging stations.

Congress has set aside $7.5B to fund electric vehicle charging stations.

Senators Marco Rubio, Roger Marshall, Rick Scott, and Kevin Cramer argued that the Federal Highway Administration's permission to bypass U.S. content requisites for materials such as steel, iron, and construction resources would cause U.S. taxpayers to inadvertently fund Chinese-manufactured products.

"This undermines American companies and allows foreign competitors, notably China, to gain influence over our energy infrastructure," stated Rubio.

According to the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure legislation, the federally funded EV stations must source a minimum of 55% of their building materials, including iron and steel, from domestic suppliers and should be completely manufactured within the U.S.

Key components of EV chargers, such as the internal framework, heating and cooling fans, and power transformers necessitate the use of iron and steel. Chargers that incorporate cabinets to encase the product require an even larger proportion of steel, which in certain instances can account for up to 50% of the total charger costs.

State governments and corporations have cautioned that the worldwide demand for EV chargers is putting pressure on the supply chain, complicating, or even ruling out adherence to made-in-America norms while accelerating the construction of new charging stations.

Zhang Xiang, a research fellow at the Research Center of Automobile Industry Innovation of the North China University of Technology believes that "Protectionism will only hinder the development of the NEV sector in the US, leading to safety problems and a poorer user experience."

According to Zhang, charging station suppliers in the US have a significant gap compared with those in China, facing issues such as obsolete technology, a late start, and high costs.

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