Electrify America takes on charging anxiety by building a national network of charging stations for almost every electric vehicle.
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Imagine starting every morning with a full tank in your car. When electric charging becomes commonplace, that’s the new reality for drivers of electric vehicles. Now imagine the kind of fast-charging, convenient, roadside stations that will give you up to 80 percent of your battery life back in a short amount of time with DC fast chargers. That’s what Electrify America is amped about.
This new program, funded by Volkswagen Group of America, will place thousands of charging stations along major United States highways and in 17 large U.S. metro areas. The speed of charging at these locations will vary between Level 2 AC charging at workplaces and apartment complexes to state-of-the-art DC fast charging at highly desirable retail locations across the nation.
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Electrify America’s program will directly address two reasons some people avoid electric vehicles today: charging speed and the lack of charging infrastructure. With ultra-fast chargers and a national footprint, Electrify America represents the world’s single largest investment in charging infrastructure. The network’s fast chargers will be brand-agnostic by design, complying with standards used to charge all non-proprietary electric vehicles (those with standard plugs) at the fastest speeds currently available.
Cycle one will see 484 public DC fast charging stations—capable of charging
at speeds of up to 350 kW—installed by the end of 2019.
Allowing EV drivers the freedom to traverse long distances has been a dream for decades. Turning that dream into reality comes by way of a historically large investment from Electrify America, creating the largest and most powerful, non-proprietary EV charging infrastructure that the Western Hemisphere has seen. The financial breakdown includes charging stations, hardware and software development.[1]
In the current plan, the first wave of charging stations is expected to appear by the end of 2019. It’s all part of a far-reaching vision for a cleaner, more convenient, faster-charging tomorrow.
Awareness challenges
A diverse range of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) have cruised U.S. cities and highways since the late 2000s. From commuters to high-performance supercars, these vehicles are generating no tailpipe emissions and recharging at a growing number of public and private charging stations as well as at home.
Establishing a non-proprietary electric vehicle charger network means nearly every EV driver can abolish the notion of range or charge anxiety. From the community-based chargers at shopping centers and other highly trafficked areas to the more rural stations along highways, power will always be within reach.[1]
Even so, nationwide awareness and adoption of ZEVs remains startlingly low—for instance, market share is currently at less than one percent. A 2017 survey found that fewer than 50 percent of Americans have heard of a ZEV, while only 34 percent have researched one.
On the education end, Electrify America developed a nationwide public relations and marketing campaign, directed specifically at American drivers’ resistance to going electric—and touting the multiple benefits of the technology, including a spirited acceleration off the line.
But the core of Electrify America’s ambitious plan is the installation of thousands of non-proprietary ZEV charging stations in communities and highway sites across the nation. To supplement at-home charging, these stations will form the foundation of a new EV infrastructure.
A partnership for change
Partnering with many stakeholders and companies across the industry, Electrify America has a plan to invest $2 billion in ZEV charging stations over the next ten years in four stages.
It’s happening—the day when charging stations aren’t too far apart, when your “charge anxiety” just disappears. Thanks to the expansive infrastructure being built, EV drivers can rest assured that they can take those long trips across the United States.[2]
By the end of 2019, Electrify America will build nearly 500 DC fast charging stations across the country. This network of brand-agnostic ZEV charging stations will help serve EV buyers where they live, work and play. Electrify America will install Level 2 AC chargers in workplaces and residential areas, for ease and convenience of employees and apartment dwellers.
Electrify America will also construct higher output charging stations at highways sites no more than 120 miles apart, along high-traffic corridors connecting the 17 metro areas. Select chargers at those stations will be capable of charging—thanks to lightweight, easy-to-handle, liquid-cooled cables—at 150 kW, with at least two dedicated chargers that can handle a 350 kW charge—far in excess of what most current ZEVs require, although there will be some vehicles capable of that charging power in the near future.
While 150 kW speed isn’t yet supported by ZEVs currently on the road, it will soon be used in the United States by high-powered EV offerings from Audi, Porsche and others, with other manufacturers supporting the 350 kW speed over the next few years. These high-powered stations will make stopping to recharge a breeze, with most cars being at 80 percent battery capacity in 30 minutes or less.[2]
Expansion and management
That first wave of charging stations is only the beginning of Electrify America’s plan. Beyond that, they seek to aggressively deploy as many DC fast chargers as possible in many of the most-needed places in the metro regions and on the highways to create an efficient experience for drivers to use and find fast charging when they are on the road.
Electrify America is working with several suppliers to build to spec, provide construction and help manage this nationwide infrastructure. Internal maintenance includes electronic dashboards to monitor the health and usage of each charger in the network and to schedule maintenance and process payments remotely. Drivers who subscribe to Electrify America will be able to connect to a system that easily finds the nearest charging station and allows them to pay when the charger connects with their vehicle, while non-subscribing EV drivers will be able to walk up and use a credit or debit card for a charge.
EVs represent the future of driving in America: a future in which tailpipe emissions are reduced to zero and drivers are free to roam without fear of limitations. That’s the freedom that made this country’s automobile culture so unique in all the world—and it’s a freedom that, thanks to Electrify America, will continue to grow.
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