Almost a year to the day after opening its first charging station, Electrify America says it is rolling out the countrys fastest-growing network of fast chargers.
Funded by $2 billion from Volkswagens 2016 diesel emissions settlement, it has a goal of building hundreds of stations and putting nearly 2,000 chargers in place by the end of this year.
Many of those will let battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, owners charge up nearly as quickly as they could fill a gas tank. Charging speed — along with the lack of a national network of charging stations — has been cited as a key obstacle to the widespread public adoption of electric cars.
“Longer range and faster charging times are critical to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles,” said Brendan Jones, the chief operating officer at Electrify America, during a conversation at the companys headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Its the equivalent of the classic chicken-and-egg problem.
EVs go mainstream
Extended-range vehicles, offering anywhere from 200 to nearly 400 miles per charge, are starting to roll out in large numbers from mainstream brands such as Daimler, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen, as well as start-ups such as Tesla and Rivian.
Setting up a nationwide infrastructure is the next big challenge, according to many analysts. An August study by McKinsey & Co. projected it will cost as much as $50 billion to ensure public charging stations are as easily accessible as gas stations in three key markets — the U.S., Europe and China. The U.S. alone is expected to require an investment of as much as $11 billion, McKinsey estimated.
Several key players have entered the field and are starting to ramp up efforts to fill the broad gaps that exist across the country. These include Tesla, which has already put into operation 1,441 Supercharger stations across North America, the vast majority of them along U.S. roadways. Those facilities are only available to Tesla owners, but companies such as EVgo and ChargePoint are targeting the rest of the market. So is Electrify America.