FHWA Seeking Ways to Improve EV Charging Systems

The Federal Highway Administration recently issued a Request for Information of RFI to solicit feedback from the transportation industry on ways to improve the agency’s minimum standards and requirements for electric vehicle charging stations – allowing for the development and deployment of new technology. Comments are due by April 5, the agency noted.

[Above photo by the KYTC]

The FHWA said its RFI focuses on the types of connectors used at EV charging locations being built with funds from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure or NEVI formula program launched two years ago.

“As EV charging technology continues to rapidly evolve, we want to ensure our federal standards for EV charging keep pace with private sector innovation, adapt to a quickly evolving industry and meet the needs of EV drivers,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt in a statement.

The agency said current federal requirements allow for alternative types of connectors on all federally funded direct current or “DC” fast chargers so long as there is also a Combined Charging System or CCS connector.

However, FHWA said SAE International recently standardized the North American Charging Standard or NACS connector as standardization J3400TM, making it possible for any supplier or manufacturer to use, fabricate, and deploy NACS connectors.

FHWA noted that a majority of automakers have announced they will adopt this connector standard on vehicles beginning in 2025, with adapters available for current owners as soon as spring 2024.

Thus the agency said its RFI will help inform how to best incorporate new technologies and innovations like J3400TM into FHWA’s minimum standards and requirements for federally funded EV charging stations, continuing to ensure that the national EV charging network serves consumers well now and into the future.

Through the RFI, FHWA, in coordination with the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation and the Department of Energy, seeks information in several key areas: Expectations surrounding market availability for J3400 within EVs and EV chargers; technical compatibility of J3400 with existing regulations; considerations regarding challenges and benefits of the implementation of J3400 at charging stations; market demands for the continued availability of CCS and J1772 connectors; and potential options for performance-based standards that can reduce the need for future regulatory updates or changes as technology evolves.

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