At the 2015 Washington Auto Show, two of the top automakers, BMW of North America and Volkswagen of America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced an initiative to create express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts. Designed to increase the number of fast charging locations, the initiative will help meet the large and growing demand for convenient, publicly available electric vehicle fast chargers, including direct current (DC) Fast charging locations, and support the adoption of electric vehicles in the United States.
In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. These newly installed DC Fast chargers will be added to the growing ChargePoint network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America.
With more than 280,000 electric vehicles sold in the United States, EV owners need more charging flexibility while on the go. The express charging corridors will provide electric vehicle drivers access to DC Fast chargers along the most heavily populated and highly-trafficked regions on Interstate 95 on the east coast, from Boston to Washington, D.C., and on the west coast covering and connecting the metropolitan areas of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically-spaced at a maximum of 50 miles apart, making it even easier to take long road trips in an EV.
"A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable," said Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America. "The express charging corridors are another important step in the development of the U.S. e-mobility infrastructure that makes longer distance travel a real option for consumers, particularly along the most heavily trafficked portions of both coasts-making the BMW i3 and other electric vehicles even more appealing."
"Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility in order to create a seamless experience for the consumer," said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America. "The investment in the express charging corridor will provide e-Golf and other electric vehicle owners with the added support to travel their day-to-day and popular long distance routes."
Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC Fast chargers, or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector, used in both BMW and Volkswagen electric vehicles as well as many other electric vehicles that incorporate a DC Fast Charging capability. When charging at a 50 kW station, both the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf can charge up to 80 percent in 20 minutes.
Both vehicles can charge up to 80 percent in 30 minutes at a 24 kW station. Locations will also include Level 2 chargers, currently the most commonly available public charging stations, which are compatible with all electric vehicles. Level 2 stations can dispense up to 25 miles of range per hour of charging, providing a full charge for the BMW i3 and the VW e-Golf within 3.5 to 4 hours.
The DC Fast charging stations will be part of the ChargePoint network and can be easily accessed with a ChargePoint or ChargeNow card or with the ChargePoint mobile app.
"Our goal at ChargePoint is to get everyone behind the wheel of an EV and provide EV charging everywhere they go," said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint CEO. "With strategically-placed stations where drivers need them, these express charging corridors will give EV drivers the freedom to go farther and have an EV as their only car without limitation."
Installations have already begun on the west coast, with the first location in San Diego County. There is a target of nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports in the first phase, available by the end of 2015. DC Fast chargers along the express charging corridors are expected to be installed in convenient locations such restaurants, shopping centers, rest stops, and more. ChargePoint will leverage its existing customer base and knowledge on usage to pick strategic locations either where drivers currently charge, or to fill in spaces where there is currently a lack of infrastructure.
With the investment, BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint are providing drivers with the ability and confidence to enjoy longer distance driving and recharge their electric vehicles quickly, ultimately leading to greater electric vehicle adoption.