One of the greatest drawbacks to electric cars is not just range, but charging.
As it stands, electric cars have yet to truly enter the mainstream. While sales have picked up year-on-year since 2010, EVs currently represent around 1% of the market. Two major issues have seriously hampered the adoption of electric cars versus their cheaper, gasoline-powered cousins: range and charging. Automakers have improved the former, as they continue to build cars with more and more range. Take the Chevrolet Bolt for instance – it manages up to 238 miles on a single charge, which is more than double what the original Nissan LEAF could manage. Then there’s Tesla, which is the current king of the EV space, its cars cresting 300 miles before they need a charge. However, even if you can go a long way, what happens where you run out of juice? That’s where companies like Electrify America come in.
Volkswagen created Electrify America out of its settlement with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the EPA to create a nationwide charging network akin to Tesla’s, and they just announced a major expansion to that network. The company announced four equipment suppliers to implement a widespread fast-charging network across the country. Starting this spring, Electrify America will install 2,000 chargers at 484 stations in 39 states in an effort to spur consumer interest and confidence in electric cars. In the next decade, the company will put $2 billion into improving EV infrastructure.
DC fast chargers [Photo: Electrify America]
Electrify America: “Ultra-fast charging stations” the plan moving forward
To that end, they’ve announced ABB, BTC Power, Efacec and Signet – all current EV charging network suppliers – to expand their reach. Addressing the charging issue, Electrify America CEO Mark McNabb said,
“Two of the key issues impacting EV sales today are convenient charging locations and charging speeds that are not fast enough…By placing our ultra-fast charging systems in locations drivers enjoy stopping at, we help reduce charging anxiety and increase the public acceptance of electric vehicles.”
Electrify America is planning to install two types of DC fast-charging cables to hit most modern electric cars out there. The suppliers will equip all these charging stations with either a 50 kW CHAdeMO connector, or a 50 – 350 kW “CCS1” connector. Check out our review of the Nissan LEAF against the Volkswagen e-Golf to find out more about what each of those connections works. Level 2 A/C chargers will also be available at these stations for plug-in hybrids and EVs incapable of fast charging. The stations shown above will use smaller, more flexible cables in their charging systems, which should make the process a bit easier for electric car owners to handle.
Will expanding infrastructure bring EVs into the mainstream?
Volkswagen’s significant investment in electric cars and infrastructure is no small commitment. In the wake of revelations about emissions cheating devices, manufacturers are jumping on the EV bandwagon. As more continue to develop the cars, so too should the infrastructure expand to support it. The big question hanging over this announcement: will this help bring electric cars into the mainstream? Over the next few years, will more people start to buy into electric cars? These new charging stations will be installed throughout 17 U.S. metropolitan areas. Those include cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, New York City, Denver, Houston, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Stay tuned to TFLcar.com as we cover more electric car and infrastructure news. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow to catch our latest coverage on plug-in hybrid and electric models! We’ll have more of that coverage coming very soon. If you enjoy our content, please consider donating to TFL through our Patreon page!