In a move designed to support their growing lineups of plug-in vehicles, BMW and Volkswagen have joined forces with ChargePoint to build a network of fast-charging EV stations along both coasts. While not as powerful or as free (yes, it will cost you money) as the Tesla Supercharger network, these closely-clustered charging stations will give EV drivers a lot more range and flexibility.
Using the SAE Combo Charger, each charging cluster will be spaced no more than 50 miles apart and will include at least two fast-chargers. These fast chargers can give the BMW i3 or Volkswagen e-Golf an 80% charge in as little as 20 minutes with the 50 kW charger, or 30 minutes at a 24 kW charger. The charging corridors will stretch between Boston and Washington D.C., as well as Portland and San Diego, providing more options for the places with the most plug-in cars.
While ChargePoint can already lay claim to about 20,000 charging stations throughout the U.S., they are scattered about in clusters based on business and government need. Now EV drivers will have more options when it comes to plugging in, although I doubt this will do much for those wanting to take a traditional road trip like you can in the Model S. Nobody is going to want to stop and recharge for 20 minutes every 50 miles.
However, if this is the groundwork for BMW and Volkswagen’s next wave of longer-range EVs, then it’s a great idea. While 150+ miles of range still won’t rival the Model S, with more charging stations one can feel more confident in taking extended trips in your pure electric car. This is just the latest sign that both automakers are ready to start taking plug-in cars seriously, which is good news for us all.