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Electric car sales in the United States are rising as gas prices continue to cause pain for consumers and businesses in nearly every sector. Earlier this year, California became the first state to hit one million electric vehicles sold in the country. According to Energy Saver, a U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) consumer resource on saving energy and using renewable energy technologies at home, sales of all-electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) nearly doubled from 308,000 in 2020 to 608,000 in 2021. EV sales accounted for 73% of all plug-in electric vehicle sales in 2021 and grew 85% from 2020 to 2021. This type of rapid growth in a single industrial sector is remarkable.

Increased EV demand means an increase in the supply of charging stations. However, there are some obstacles. President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) addresses the need to reinforce America’s roads, bridges and rails, including an initiative to establish a network of electric vehicle chargers across America’s highways, with emphasis on connecting major metropolitan hubs like Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as hubs up and down the Eastern seaboard including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The idea of bolstering EV infrastructure isn’t a new concept. Still, recent events have spotlighted this administration’s resolve in speeding up the country’s EV adoption rate for consumer and commercial use.

President Biden’s bill allocates $200 billion in electric transportation investments, including purchase incentives to accelerate the country’s electrification plans. This level of investment in EVs and charging infrastructure could create a tipping point for EV adoption, further speeding up the need for sustainable infrastructure to support it. This would not only create a significant reduction of fossil fuel emissions from the transportation sector but will require raw materials and the U.S. manufacturing companies needed to build infrastructure. This will likely include the steel conduit sector for resilience, durability and protective properties.

Steel Raceways for EV Proliferation

Steel conduit has been used as a “raceway system” for electrical conductors since the early 1900s, using several types of steel, including rigid metal conduit and electrical metallic tubing (EMT). These materials are significant due to the strength of the steel used for electrical conduit, which has been recognized for decades as providing superior protection and efficiency.

Steel conduit is essential for modern electrical system longevity while ensuring long-lasting performance. Also, steel conduit has proven to be durable and highly recyclable, which provides the greatest resiliency and sustainability in raceway options. The benefits of steel conduit simply outweigh other options for their versatility, resilience, sustainability and affordability—all considerations needed for an expansive project such as a national EV charging station infrastructure.

When considering the magnitude of building EV charging station infrastructure, steel conduit shines as the perfect electrical raceway because it allows for wiring to be removed, changed, updated and reused—things generally not feasible with cabling methods.

Steel Conduit’s Cost savings and ROI

In this industry, it is commonly known that steel conduit can reduce costs. From installation throughout the life of a project, steel conduit’s flexibility and reusability enables preservation, saving the recurring expense of replacing cabling as the structure evolves.

Most commercial structures undergo renovations and upgrades every few years. It is safe to assume that EV charging stations will also undergo regularly scheduled maintenance, renovations and upgrades to accommodate new business and consumer needs. It’s essential to consider this aspect when selecting a wiring method for a new structure because long-term costs can far outweigh savings on initial installation.

The cost breakdown and ROI of using steel conduit for wiring must be observed throughout its lifetime. Considerations of initial installation, light R&D conversions and long-term retrofits must be factored in. In a hypothetical cost-benefit analysis comparing EMT, or steel conduit, to MC cable, the 10-year cost comparison demonstrated a cost savings of nearly 30% for a hypothetical building consisting of three floors and a mix of retail and commercial office space.

The growing demand for EVs has fueled the requirement for charging stations nationwide. Steel, as raw material, and steel conduit are likely material sources to fulfill the need, making the adoption of EVs and the rollout of charging station infrastructures more affordable, sustainable and reliable.


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