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Beyond Bridges - EV Charging

These infrastructure investments are driving Indiana’s electric vehicle future

November 17, 2023 | Zionsville, Ind.
By Scott Palmer, Indiana Public Broadcasting

The bets have been placed: the future of transportation is electric.

“Transportation is one of the largest contributors to climate change,” says Kerri Garvin, executive director of Greater Indiana Clean Cities. “So there’s been a big push to get people to adopt electric vehicles.”

Yet some people push back, for good reason.

“When you can’t get people to adopt [EVs] because there’s not the infrastructure, I guess we need to address the infrastructure,” Garvin says.

The concern: range anxiety

An ambassador for clean energy policies, Garvin frequently fields questions at education events, such as last April’s Greenfest in Zionsville, Indiana.

Standing next to an electric vehicle on a breezy Saturday, she happily answered inquiries from consumers still unsure about their own electric future. “Usually, the concern is, ‘well, there’s not enough charging,’” she says.

It’s a concern so common, it has its own name: range anxiety. It’s the fear of being stranded on a long-distance road trip because charging stations aren’t (yet) as ubiquitous as gas stations.

That’s why a transformation of EV charging infrastructure is underway in Indiana – and nationwide – thanks to multiple investments across public and private sectors alike.

National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program

“We’re seeing unprecedented investment at the federal level in EV charging infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” says Scott Manning, deputy chief of staff at INDOT.

The November 2021 legislation – also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – established approximately $550 billion in new federal investment for all things infrastructure, including rail, water, internet, and the $4 billion dollar National EV Infrastructure program.

Better known as “NEVI,” the program allocated millions each to all fifty states. Indiana’s share – nearly $100 million, administered by INDOT – will drive construction of at least 44 DC fast charging stations statewide.

DC fast chargers are a step above the public chargers commonly found at restaurants or theaters. What those can do in a couple of hours, and what home chargers typically do overnight, DC fast chargers can do in minutes.

“DC fast charging is the closest technology we have today… to that traditional gas station experience,” says Manning. “You're able to get to eighty percent, or maybe even to one hundred percent power in less than an hour. In some cases maybe twenty or thirty minutes,” he adds.

To create that familiar refueling experience for long-distance EV drivers, the five-year NEVI program calls for designated interstates and major highways to offer public charging stations within one mile of an exit, every fifty miles, in all fifty states. Each station must charge at least four vehicles at a time, and accommodate common charging connectors.

While proposed stations that meet the strict criteria can receive up to 80% federal cost share, the remaining 20% must be provided by state or local funds.

An EV driver himself, Manning sees the NEVI program as both an investment in the planet and in Indiana’s economic development. “Charging infrastructure can bring motorists to a community,” Manning says. Because motorists who spend time charging will likely spend money, “local businesses like restaurants and shops can expect to benefit,” he notes.

Incentives are also provided for chargers located in disadvantaged or rural communities, which Manning acknowledges are “communities that may not have historically seen a concerted investment in their transportation infrastructure.”

INDOT has identified dozens of potential charging station locations, and currently expects to receive applications until November 2023 from prospective station operators in those locations. Construction on NEVI-funded stations is slated to begin in 2025.

And if 2025 isn’t soon enough for your road trip?

Volkswagen Settlement

“The Volkswagen program will have… DC fast charging stations scattered across the state by the end of [2023],” says Shawn Seals, senior environmental manager for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

After the automaker was sued by the EPA for cheating on emission tests, Volkswagen agreed in a 2017 settlement to spend billions on EV charging infrastructure nationwide. The agreement earmarks $5.5 million for Indiana.

In 2021, the contract to build 61 VW-funded DC fast charging stations was awarded to a consortium of eight Indiana utilities, thanks in part to their unique advantage. “They are the fuel provider in this instance,” says Seals. Not only was the consortium’s proposed cost the most competitive, “they know how to manage the grid to make sure that you're getting adequate electrical supply,” he adds.

The Volkswagen program bears some similarities to its federal counterpart. Both programs require station operators to keep their chargers up and running. The VW-funded program requires an average charger uptime of 95%, while the NEVI rules require each charging port to maintain an average annual uptime of 97%.

Like NEVI-funded stations, VW-funded stations will also be located near amenities like restrooms and restaurants.

If both programs are completed as planned, the number of DC fast chargers near Indiana highways will increase from just five in early 2023, to nearly one hundred and fifty after five years – with dozens slated for completion in 2024 alone. “So even though it feels like it's something that's far out in the future,” says Seals, “the Volkswagen program is bringing it a little bit closer to now for everyone.”

“The VW-funded stations and NEVI stations in tandem will have 100% of Indiana's population within about 30 miles of a DC fast charger,” notes Manning.

Private sector follows suit

In 2018, nearly 8 of every 10 electric vehicles sold in the U.S. was a Tesla, reports InsideEVs. Tesla’s early success is owed partly to its early infrastructure strategy: Tesla built its own charging network just for Tesla vehicles.

Now that more automakers are making more EVs more affordable, Tesla has responded to consumer demand for charging, and to the availability of federal funds. Tesla pledged in February to open roughly 3,500 of its proprietary U.S. superchargers to non-Tesla vehicles by the end of 2024.

Meanwhile, several automakers announced in July that their electric vehicles will soon be compatible with Tesla chargers.

Taken together, these investments in Indiana’s EV charging infrastructure add up to a new range of possibilities for Hoosier drivers. “We're addressing the gaps in infrastructure,” says Garvin, “so that the people who are considering switching have that option.”

This is the second of a new series of documentary shorts on Indiana infrastructure. A production of Indiana Public Broadcasting, Beyond Bridges will do more than profile Indiana infrastructure projects. Our goal is to educate Hoosiers on topics related to infrastructure in a way that makes all of us more active and informed participants in these public functions.

To share story ideas or learn about underwriting opportunities, contact Paul Wasowski, Executive Producer at