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What the infrastructure bill means for electric cars: Siemens USA CEO

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is set to disperse hundreds of billions toward overhauling aging infrastructure around the country, including roads, bridges, power lines, plumbing and public transit. According to Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton, however, what makes the bill so groundbreaking is its implications on the next generation of infrastructure, specifically electric vehicle (EV) charging.

“I would say the most remarkable thing [about the infrastructure bill] is going beyond just roads and bridges and really understanding that the future is more connected and autonomous,” Humpton told Yahoo Finance Live. “So one of the key things we've featured is the work we'll be doing on electric vehicle infrastructure … So we make chargers, and we've made the commitment to build a million chargers in the next four years.”

Humpton joined Yahoo Finance Live from the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer. She discussed the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on businesses, supply chain issues, capital expenditures, investments, and the implications of the U.S. infrastructure bill.

The EV charging infrastructure push will boost manufacturing capacity in the U.S. while also creating new jobs. The White House estimates that, combined with the Build Back Better Act, the infrastructure bill will add on an average of 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years. Humpton also emphasized the importance of the technology and systems that transfer energy from power grids and into charging stations (medium and low-voltage power distribution).

3d rendering group of EV charging stations or electric vehicle recharging stations
3d rendering group of EV charging stations or electric vehicle recharging stations (PhonlamaiPhoto via Getty Images)

A national charging network

The infrastructure bill will provide $5 billion over five years — $615 million made available to states for fiscal 2022 — under the new National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program to build out a national electric vehicle charging network. A Department of Energy press release called the program “an important step” towards making EV charging accessible to all Americans.

Humpton said that the underlying objective of accessibility behind NEVI aligns with what Siemens USA has been advocating for in terms of a national EV charging network.

“We have been loud proponents of a non-proprietary, open standard for charging. And we've been very clear and open with that,” she said. “So [we're] excited to see this being picked up because people want to be able to move from region to region, city to city without having to load new apps or install new technology.”

Ultimately, the increased adoption of EVs and advent of a national charging network will be significant in the decarbonization of the American economy. According to Humpton, a major focus of Siemens USA’s strategy centers around lowering the country’s carbon footprint.

“This is part of Siemens strategy overall — climate change, urbanization, aging demographics of people everywhere, and globalization — the idea that the supply chain can be more local,” she said. “We've been working on all of those things. And every single one of them depends on and is important to decarbonization. So whether you're talking about new electrical infrastructure, more energy-efficient building technologies, upgrading factory operations, we have technology for all of that.”

Thomas Hum is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @thomashumTV

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