AASHTO Seeks to Defer ‘Buy America’ Rules for EV Systems

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently called on the Federal Highway Administration to defer the cost component of the new “Build America/Buy America” by a full year – to July 1, 2025 – to provide more time for domestic makers of electric vehicle recharging systems to get up to speed.

[Above image by AASHTO]

“The establishment of this brand new program [the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure or NEVI Formula Program launched in 2022], coordination with a myriad of non-traditional stakeholders, changes to federal-aid procurement processes, and new requirements established for American-made EV chargers have all combined to make the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure challenging,” AASHTO noted in a letter to FHWA.    

“Anecdotal information from state and industry sources indicates that delivery timeframes for EV chargers and related equipment, such as the switch gears and transformers needed to build out the infrastructure needed for electrical grid expansion, is generally slow – anywhere from six to 24 months or longer, depending on the equipment needed,” the organization said. “This lag in delivery is anticipated to increase as more agencies flood the market with solicitations and awards.”

Photo by FHWA

[Editor’s note: The FHWA recently said it expects to publish a Request for Information to solicit feedback from stakeholders on updating the agency’s “minimum standards and requirements” for EV charging stations to allow for new technology and continued innovation.]

The concern for state departments of transportation, AASHTO explained, is that they are largely relying on the industry to ensure that “Buy America” requirements are met – yet remain “on the hook” if a determination is made that any supplied equipment is non-compliant. On top of that, “Buy America” requirements for EV chargers become more complex as of July 1, 2024, when at least 55 percent of the cost of components of an EV charger will be required to be U.S.-made.

And while AASHTO noted it is currently in the development stage of an “industry document repository,” which will help provide a centralized location for industry to share Buy America information with the states, that database is not scheduled for initial beta-testing until mid-2024.  

That is why AASHTO is encouraging FHWA to defer the cost component of the “Buy America” requirements for one additional year – to July 1, 2025 – which would provide additional transition time for industry and greater assurance that the NEVI program would meet its deployment goals.

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