General Motors has provided a grant of $750,000 to a Colorado-based research firm called the Rocky Mountain Institute, which will be used to identify low-income communities in major North American cities that do not have access to EV charging infrastructure.
In a statement, RMI said the “grant will provide funding over the next year to support two key initiatives under RMI’s Carbon-Free Mobility Program.” The first of these initiatives is called ‘EV Charging for All’ and will “provide critical data, along with actionable analysis, for stakeholders, especially those in low-income communities, to accelerate access to clean, electric mobility options,” RMI says. The second initiative will enable RMI to “develop a streamlined permitting system for residential and public EV charging stations,” in order to “reduce time, and thus costs, for communities and infrastructure providers to obtain EV charger permits.”
Kristen Siemen, chief sustainability officer at GM, said this grant is indicative of GM’s goal of providing access to EV chargers to North Americans from all economic backgrounds.
“GM is committed to supporting accessible and affordable charging solutions that can help meet customers where they are. We understand the need to address charging deserts and other barriers preventing access to electric vehicles, including in ride-hailing and car-sharing services,” Siemen said. “RMI is closing the climate equity gap at the community level and helping pave the way for communities to experience the benefits of zero-emissions mobility.”
The cheapest electric vehicle currently offered by GM is the Chevy Bolt EV, which is priced from $32,495 including destination. A 2017 study conducted by Bankrate.com, which was cited by CNBC, found that in six of the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, median income households could afford less than half the average new-car price. Both new and used vehicle transaction prices have also risen sharply in the four years since the study was conducted. So while this grant will help address EV charging access in low-income areas, automakers still have a significant amount of work to do with regard to EV affordability.
Regardless, RMI says the studies funded by the GM grant “will provide cost-effective pathways to bring EVs into low-income neighborhoods,” and support policymakers, utilities and private investors “in driving new investment into the market to benefit communities and the environment.”