As the world makes conscious strides to create a healthier and sustainable environment, electric vehicles have risen to prominence. Despite the common misconception that electric vehicles are a new creation, these clean green transportation agents have been around for centuries. The first iteration was credited to the Scottish inventor Robert Anderson.
Unfortunately, like many other changes, the journey to green transportation has not invaded the clutches of wealth disparity embedded within systematic racism. Supporting EVs is openly admitting that there is a severe access problem to them and a gasping equity problem within the industry.
The Color Of EV
Blacks and other minorities or BIPOC individuals continue to be at the bottom of the totem pole when owning EVs. For that very reason, even the few that can afford to purchase an electric vehicle must suffer through charging deserts. These desserts are massive expanses of communities with little to no charging stations to accommodate electric vehicles. By no surprise, these charging deserts are located chiefly in lower-income Black communities.
The harsh reality is that there exists a misconception that the Black community is not interested in saving the environment. This stereotype, like many others, is a whitewashed narrative borne out of a lack of understanding of the socio-economic issues faced by generations of Black families.
But let’s shatter this myth. The Black community has always recycled and rescued. If you have ever met a Black person, you know there are no single-use plastics. Plastic containers are reused in Black households, and plastic bags have a cupboard or drawer dedicated to them for future use. And for those who don’t know, the very distinguished Madam C.J Walker was the proud owner of a Waverly Electric Vehicle.
Despite being ahead of the pack today, according to the EV Consumer Survey, African Americans account for just a mere 2% of EV owners, not because they don’t care about the environment but because EVs come in at a significantly higher price range than their gasoline counterparts. Due to this, the concentration of charging stations is located in primarily White higher-income communities. In Chicago alone, The Energy News Network posits that 70% of the city’s charging stations were located in just three districts, all affluent and White. In comparison, 47 of the city’s 77 communities concentrated in the west and southside had no charging stations.
But for clean energy to be equitable, it must be understood that electric vehicles aren’t limited to Tesla, Porsche, Audi, and even Ford. Companies like Kia, Hyundai, and Mazda have entered the industry with economical price points for clean energy. Additionally, to encourage the sale of electric vehicles, the federal government issues a tax credit ranging anywhere from $2,500 – $7,500. Furthermore, independent agents of change such as EVHybridNoire lead the charge in rewriting the narrative. EVHybridNoire has created a nifty map outlining charging stations in the user’s vicinity.
To close the widening EV disparity gap, the Joe Biden administration attempted to allocate $15 million towards building out 500,000 EV charging stations nationwide. While the Senate has already cut that allocation in half, the plan is still a step in ensuring EV is for everyone, not just a select few.