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Volkswagen Plans to ‘Electrify America' with $2 Billion Investment in the Largest U.S. EV Charging Network

Volkswagen Plans to ‘Electrify America' with $2 Billion Investment in the Largest U.S. EV Charging Network

Author: Eric Walz   

Volkswagen's global reputation, and also that of luxury line Audi, was severely damaged by the 'dieselgate' emissions scandal which the company plead guilty to. Volkswagen admitted it tampered with diesel vehicle software in order to bypass stringent emissions requirements. As retribution for its crimes, VW created Electrify America as catalyst to promote the adoption of electric vehicles.

Now VW says it's ready to fulfill its mission and help clean up the company's tarnished image. Electrify America has announced plans to construct the largest EV charging network in the U.S., eventually exceeding the size of Telsa's planned Supercharger network.

$2 Billion Investment in EV Charging Infrastructure

Over a ten year period ending in 2027, Electrify America will invest $2 billion in zero emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure and education programs in the United States. Electrify will build a nationwide network of workplace, community, and highway chargers that are conveniently located and reliable. The EV charging network will enable millions of Americans to discover the benefits of electric driving without the range anxiety associated with trying to find a EV charger along the route.

Of this $2 billion, $1.2 billion will be invested nationwide, while the remaining $800 million will be invested in California, the state with the largest single EV market in the world. This investment represents the largest of its kind ever made.


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Electrify America's planned EV charging network

First Chargers Open Near Washington D.C.

Last month, Electrify America unveiled its first working charging stations in Washington, D.C. and nearby Maryland and Virginia. The 50-kilowatt dual-standard stations, which can provide about 100 miles of EV driving range with a 30-minute charge. By September, these will be joined by 50 new and upgraded fast chargers at "premier retail properties" in 10 major metro markets, including Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Portland.

Upgradable Chargers

One important feature of the charging network is that it will be future proof. It is expected that EV charging requirements will be higher as the vehicle battery technology advances. The Electrify network will be upgradeable to meet these higher charging rates.

While most of the fast chargers will be capable of charging to the current CHAdeMO standard (e.g. Nissan Leaf and the Kia Soul EV) or to the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard that's becoming more widely used, many of the fast chargers will be capable of even quicker 150-kW CCS use, which many future models, such as the Audi e-tron and the Jaguar I-Pace use.

CHAdeMO is the trade name of a quick EV charging method delivering up to 62.5 kW by 500 V, 125 amp direct current with a special electrical connector. It is proposed as a global industry standard supported by major auto manufacturers in the United States and Europe.

Easy Payment Via Smartphones

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Electrify America is turning to the San Francisco-based charging-technology company Greenlots to help manage the massive charging network. Greenlots has a app-based dashboard to allow monitoring of charger health, use data, and maintenance needs. Once the Electrify America nationwide network starts expanding, highway stations will be located no more than 120 miles apart.

The Greenlots app-based platform should make it easier for EV drivers to find a nearby charger and make payments either with their smartphone or "through vehicle authentication"— taking advantage of the unique vehicle-ID capability that's built into the CCS standard used by most electric vehicles.

Although the organization is still working on its installation plan, Electrify is aiming to get the majority of the chargers in place by June 2019. Over a total of 10 years, Electrify America needs to invest $2 billion nationally, including $800 million in California, on infrastructure and awareness. However, there will be much more progress to come. These initial plans make up just 25 percent ($500 million) of the $2 billion VW has allocated to the project.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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