By Dave Schembri, CEO of EVgo
With Tesla’s Model 3, the new 230-plus range Chevy Bolt, the extended range Nissan LEAF, BMW i Series and Audi’s upcoming 200-plus mile range car and more in the market now or on the near horizon, higher range EVs and all EV variants are here to stay. However, the key to EV adoption is more than just the vehicles themselves.
The fossil fuel industry is a well-established machine, with gas stations on almost every corner. It needs to be just as easy and convenient for consumers to charge up outside the home as it is for them to fill up the tank in an internal combustion vehicle. A robust charging infrastructure is the missing piece of the puzzle needed to provide EV drivers the confidence that they can receive a charge at anytime, and virtually anywhere. [Full disclosure: this post has been generously sponsored by EVgo.]
In order to make this happen, government agencies, EV charging companies, and automakers must work together to install the infrastructure necessary to eliminate range anxiety. At EVgo, we are putting our resources on the line, and we welcome additional funding into the sector, irrespective of the source. A positive development is the Volkswagen TDI settlement with the EPA. The settlement requires Volkswagen to invest $2 billion on zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure – presenting a fantastic opportunity to help the industry scale at a time when it is most critical.
The critical factors to make our vision of widespread deployment of EVs a reality are:
- Cooperation with automakers, policymakers, and hosts
- More extended range cars at lower price points
- Funding to build out the infrastructure
EVgo, along with a number of other EV charging companies, utilities, and government agencies are deploying large sums of money to build out the needed charging infrastructure. But an additional massive infusion of capital like the VW settlement can be the catalyst that the industry needs to make the selection of an EV an easy choice for car buyers. The more infrastructure that is available to EV drivers, the better it is for the entire industry.
The capital needed to scale and build out this EV charging infrastructure is massive. In California alone, roughly $300 million in upgrades will be needed to make today’s 50kW DC fast chargers jump to 100kW, 150kW and eventually 300kW-plus chargers that get EV drivers on their way in 10-20 minutes. Completing those upgrades while doubling California’s current fast charger footprint could run the total to approximately $600 million. That’s before we look to the other 49 states with drivers clamoring for EV charging access. In short, more funding is needed, and no matter where it comes from, many EV charging industry participants stand to benefit from a large injection of capital.
That is why the $2 billion VW is required to spend on ZEV infrastructure is a huge opportunity for electric vehicle charging companies, automakers, drivers and the public at large. This unprecedented investment is urgently needed to fund projects that support increased ZEV use—including the development, construction, and maintenance of ZEV infrastructure—given the critical inflection point that the EV industry is at today. With over a half‐million EVs on the road and the imminent market entrance of numerous long‐range and affordable models, timely and well‐executed projects funded through the VW settlement have the potential to catalyze revolutionary growth in our industry and make EV ownership viable for all drivers across the United States.
It’s clear that the VW settlement presents a unique opportunity for a number of private sector charging providers and suppliers to help deploy large amounts of capital to make EV charging infrastructure accessible for millions more American drivers. We stand ready to work with other industry participants to drive the EV charging world better, faster, further and cleaner.
About the author: David C. Schembri is the CEO of EVgo, which owns and operates the largest public Electric Vehicle (EV) DC fast charging network in the United States. Just prior to joining EVgo in November 2016, Schembri was the CEO for the Active Aero Group, an asset-backed provider of “on demand” transportation of cargo. Schembri has nearly 40 years of automotive experience in various executive positions at Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen of America.