Electric car advocates agree that charging infrastructure is the key to making EVs appeal to mainstream drivers. This week, both Volkswagen and Nissan are putting their shoulders to the wheel to expand the EV charging infrastructure in the United States. In the Northeast, Nissan announced a partnership with EVgo at the New York auto show. The two companies will install a total of nine DC fast charging facilities in the busy Boston to Washington transportation corridor.
The Nissan — EVgo Partnership
The chargers will feature both CHAdeMO and Combined Charging System DC fast-charging outlets as a part of Nissan’s inclusive “Infrastructure for All” initiative. The two charging standards are competing for dominance in the EV charging environment. CHAdeMO is preferred by most Asian manufacturers while CCS is the choice of most European and US manufacturers. Tesla uses its own proprietary charging technology but its cars can be connected to a CHAdeMO charger with an adapter.
Nissan says the new chargers will give peace of mind to electric car drivers who use the busy Interstate 95 corridor. The facilities are already under construction and expected to be operational by this fall. Each will be able to charge up to 4 cars at a time at a power of 50 kW. They have been pre-wired for a high power charging at up to 150 kW with simple upgrades once that technology is available.
“Regardless of range capability, a convenient fast charge infrastructure along high traffic routes is imperative in the mass adoption of electric vehicles,” said JeSean Hopkins, senior manager for EV infrastructure strategy & business development at Nissan North America. “This element of the EV equation is seemingly overlooked by others, but we’re all in. Following a similar project in California, this is our second ‘corridor’ project in the U.S. and completion is expected in time for the launch of the all-new Nissan LEAF.”
Volkswagen’s Electrify America Plan
Volkswagen’s contribution is not as voluntary as Nissan’s. As part of its agreement to make amends for its diesel emissions cheating scandal, it agreed to spend $2 billion dollars to add to the nation’s EV charging infrastructure. It has formed a new division called Electrify America to carry out its part in the court ordered plan. This week, it announced the first $300 million will be used to create a national network of 450 electric car charging stations in 11 “major metropolitan areas” and along heavily traveled highways in 39 states.
The 240 highway stations will include both chargers capable of up to 150 kW of charging power. Those same chargers will be able to handle up to 320 kW of power in the future. That’s enough to provided most EV drivers with an 80% charge in about 15 minutes.
Volkswagen is prohibited by the terms of the court decree from using the charging network from promoting its own electric car business the way Tesla uses its Superchargers. But it can’t hurt Volkswagen’s chances of selling electric cars in America if the range anxiety that holds so many mainstream drivers back when it comes to driving an electric car is reduced.
Of course, it is ludicrous to have three different charging standards all competing with each other — CHAdeMO, CCS, and Tesla. It’s like having different gas pumps that only fit certain brands of cars. Eventually, one of those standards is going to win out and become the accepted norm. It is also absurd to have a welter of different payment protocols. EV drivers need a one touch app that takes care of all billing for all chargers everywhere. Once we have a harmonized charging standard and convenient billing, the electric car revolution will finally be ready for takeoff.