States, local governments, and businesses interested in zero-emission vehicles—such as electric cars—may get a needed boost from the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Investment Fund. This fund was established in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, and dedicates more than $2 billion over the next 10 years to build out ZEV infrastructure. Fund-supported programs aim to speed up ZEV adoption, addressing concerns like uncertainty about geographic distance between charges, fears of getting stranded, and long charging times. The fund could offer a game changer for states and communities that want to be active in building an electric-vehicle future.

Fund manager and VW affiliate Electrify America (EA) has already begun funding the first of four 30-month investment cycle plans. EA considered more than 550 proposals in the first cycle selection process and is encouraging proposal submissions ahead of the second submission cycle. Those interested should start advocating now for their ideas to be funded and prioritized in the next cycle.

The first ZEV Investment Plan dedicates about $190 million to construct 240 charging stations along high-traffic corridors between targeted metropolitan areas. The charging stations will offer the most advanced technology available, providing up to 20 miles of range per minute of charging. For some next-generation vehicles, this figure translates to potentially 300 miles of geographic range for every 15-20 minutes of charging.

The first Plan also allocates about $40 million for community-based charging stations in 11 metropolitan areas—Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, Raleigh, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. EA has already reached an agreement with a public fast-charge network operator to install 52 charging stations in seven cities. Eight stations in the metro Washington, D.C., area are already up and running, with the remaining installations expected to be in place later this year.

While building out the highway infrastructure is a logical top priority, we assume EA will shift its focus to other areas of investment as the network develops. EA has already indicated that future investment cycles will target cities beyond the initial 11 beneficiary cities in the first investment plan, thereby expanding the geographical footprint for electric vehicles with each progressive cycle. Later cycles will also likely consider supporting infrastructure and technology investments for ZEV alternatives to electric—such as building hydrogen fueling stations and supporting updated technology as it develops. EA may also enhance consumer exposure and access to ZEVs through services such as ride-and-drive events, car-sharing programs, ride-hailing services and rental fleets.