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Black EV charging startup founders ensuring BIPOC communities aren't left behind

Black business owners with EV-charging firms are working to ensure black people aren’t left behind when countries switch to electric cars.

Black EV charging startup founders ensuring BIPOC communities aren't left behind
Photo by Andrew Roberts / Unsplash

As demand for the new green technology develops, a clean-tech startup in Washington, D.C., which designs and builds electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, is having success securing clients looking to install charging stations in their homes.

Still, Sheryl E. Ponds, founder of Black-owned Dai Technologies Corp., has found it difficult to overlook that most of her clients are white, suburban and well-to-do. Nevertheless, she is one of the many Black businessowners with EV-charging firms working to ensure Black folks aren’t left behind as the U.S. puts resources toward the transition to electric cars.

... If I’m not willing to deal with the extra (work) that comes with selling (EV charging stations) to property managers, then Black families will be on the back end of getting served in this industry,” she told Forbes in an interview.

“They’re going to be locked out of EV adoption.”

Some claim that the opportunity to improve health outcomes in regions with a high incidence of asthma and air pollution, which disproportionately affect Black populations, is at stake. Others also claim that EV charging infrastructure will spur opportunities for green jobs, mobility and engagement in the gig economy in metropolitan areas, particularly when businesses like Uber commit to having all-electric fleets within the next 10 years.

“The thing is, we have more to gain from EV adoption than most communities,” Ponds told Forbes. “We tend to live in neighbourhoods where we need decarbonization, environmental justice and health outcomes that will improve as a result of reducing fuel emissions.”

Need for environmental justice and infrastructure

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that Black children in the U.S. are approximately three times as likely as white children to develop asthma and are nearly eight times more likely to suffer fatal consequences. Additionally, a 2018 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology study discovered that Black children are more susceptible to ground-level ozone exposure from smokestack and tailpipe emissions, even at low concentrations and even when utilizing asthma treatments like inhalers, according to Forbes.

Advocates for environmental justice are counting on electric cars to help lessen that. But unfortunately, only two per cent of EV owners identify as Black, according to a report from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.

“...We just don’t have access to EV charging, but I think as we see these barriers start to be removed, we’ll start to see more people in our community buy electric vehicles,” Josh Aviv, founder and CEO of SparkCharge, told Forbes in an interview.

His company offers on-demand portable charging that can be requested through a mobile app. Aviv said he founded SparkCharge in 2017 partly because he thought fixed charging infrastructure wouldn't be quickly deployed by the government to keep up with demand.

So, his company just raised $30 million in Series A funding. But he said that setting up a new charging station can take 12 to 24 months, even with recent federal money allocated to developing EV charging stations.

On Sept. 14, at the Detroit Auto Show, U.S President Joe Biden announced $900 million in grants to build electric vehicle charging stations in 35 states. The move is a part of a $7.5 billion plan to build 500,000 recharging stations across the U.S.

Insiders say plenty more electrical infrastructure and charging stations will be needed to increase demand as automakers commit to EV growth. Some car companies are investing big in charging networks to sway customers.

The price of vehicles has frequently been mentioned as a contributing factor in the switch to electric cars, especially in low-income areas. But that isn't stopping automakers from making them in immensity.

By 2030, according to research firm Gartner, there will be 36 million annual shipments of electric vehicles, up from three million in 2020 — a 26 per cent compound annual growth rate.

Source: Forbes