By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Thursday it will establish 48 national electric-vehicle (EV) charging networks on nearly 25,000 miles of highways in 35 U.S. states.
The Obama administration said 28 states, utilities and vehicle manufactures, including General Motors Co, BMW AG and Nissan Motor Co, and EV charging firms have agreed to work together to jump-start the additional charging stations.
The corridors were required to be established by December under a 2015 highway law.
The White House said 24 state and local governments have agreed to buy hundreds of additional electric vehicles for government fleets and add new EV charging stations.
California will buy at least 150 zero-emission vehicles and provide EV charging at a minimum of 5 percent of state-owned parking spaces by 2020.
The city of Atlanta will add 300 charging stations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by the end of 2017.
Los Angeles agreed to nearly triple the city’s current plug-in electric fleet to 555 vehicles from about 200 by the end of 2017. Of those, 200 will be for the police department. The city is also adding another 500 stations by 2017.
One hurdle to the mass adoption of EVs has been the difficulty in finding places to recharge vehicles. In July, the White House said it was expanding a federal loan guarantee program to include companies building EV charging stations.
The U.S. Energy Department said in July that charging facilities are now an eligible technology for the program that can provide up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees.
No loans have been made to EV charging projects yet, officials said Thursday.
Administration efforts come as U.S. EV sales have not met early expectations.
EV sales have fallen well below President Barack Obama's goal of reaching 1 million by 2015.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Reuters in January that the country may hit the figure in three to four years with continuing improvements in battery technology, but he acknowledged low gasoline prices have hurt EV sales.
In August 2008, Obama set a goal of getting 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on the roads by 2015. Only about 520,000 electric cars have been sold in the United States since 2008. There are about 250 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads.
The White House has repeatedly tried to boost EV sales, including hiking the EV tax credit and converting it to a point-of-sale rebate, but the proposals have yet to pass Congress.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)