The Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal was an awful thing. Imagine an international mega-corporation locking live animals into clear plastic chambers so researchers could watch what happened to them when the exhaust fumes from a diesel pickup truck were piped in. While all the fear mongering and chest thumping by members of the public and government officials was justified, nobody has ever raised serious concerns about how Ford and General Motors knew about the dangers posed by pollutants from the exhaust of the products they manufactured, which have done probably a million times more harm to the environment than those emitted by all those diesel powered Volkswagens. Moral outrage is all well and good but why should some companies be pilloried while others are praised after doing worse things?
There is no excuse for Volkswagen’s dastardly behavior, yet every cloud has a silver lining and for EV proponents, Electrify America is the good that came out of a terrible situation. At the beginning of the EV revolution a decade ago, public charging networks were in their infancy. Most auto manufacturers were standing around with their hands in their pockets waiting for someone — anyone — to do the heavy lifting. Only Tesla was willing to put its money where its mouth was and build a charging network for its customers.
Now, Electrify America has announced the installation of its 500th Level 3 charging station since work began in May of 2018. In total, there are more than 2,200 individual chargers at those locations. A fast charging corridor from LA to DC that crosses 11 states has been completed. In addition, many of those chargers are located in urban areas near shopping, banking and dining amenities.
“Electrify America is raising the bar when it comes to the high speed charging experience needed to expedite the transition to an electric future,” says Giovanni Palazzo, CEO of Electrify America. “In just over two years, we’ve made great progress in expanding our network while maintaining a deliberate focus on delivering the fastest charging speeds possible — 150kW and 350kW. We are confident that reduced charging times and increased charger availability will help Electrify America, and the industry as a whole, deliver the future-proof charging experience that customers deserve.”
Solar Powered Chargers With Battery Storage
Electrify America is also leading the way when it comes to solar powered charging stations with battery storage. Its first DC fast charger site featuring a solar powered canopy is located in Baker, California where the solar panels charge a battery energy storage system on site. The battery energy storage systems store power when electricity costs are low and supplement power during high points of consumption, minimizing impact on the electrical grid. The company expects to have more than 125 fully operational installations with battery storage completed by the end of 2021. Of those, 75 will be located at charging locations in California.
The company says it plans to continue innovating and expanding its network, which is the largest open DC fast charging network in the U.S. By the end of next year, it says it will have installed or have under development about 800 charging stations with about 3,500 DC fast chargers. Each charging station is designed to meet the needs of multiple EV drivers simultaneously.
B2B Charging Solutions
The EV revolution is about more than private passenger vehicles. It also involves heavy duty trucks, buses, and commercial fleets. Electrify America has created a new business unit it calls Electrify Commercial which is designed to deliver turn key electric vehicle charging solutions to utilities, fleet owners and operators, government entities, and businesses seeking to manage their own network of chargers.
The new unit will draw on the experience Electrify America has gained from building its public charging network to support its customers in the planning, procurement, execution, operation, and optimization of electric vehicle charging stations. Charging a fleet of electric vehicles is new territory for many public and private entities. Rather than reinventing the wheel, they can draw on the knowledge base accumulated by Electrify America to create a fully functioning charging system that meets their precise needs.
The new business unit helps business-to-business customers — utility companies, fleet operators, automotive manufacturers, real estate developers, property owners, retailers, and government entities — formulate and deploy a strategy tailored to their specific EV charging needs. Electrify Commercial’s comprehensive suite of services is designed to support B2B clients’ charging needs at any speed, resulting in a seamless experience for both station operators and EV drivers.
“As Electrify America works to expand the availability of electric vehicle public charging solutions, we have recognized a growing demand for custom charging solutions in the B2B sector,” says Rachel Moses, director for commercial services at Electrify America. “We are excited to introduce Electrify Commercial to fulfill this need, providing the full power of our charging expertise to businesses that prioritize electrification.”
Some of the services Electrify Commercial will offer customers include:
- A customized EV charging program tailored to fit the needs of the client.
- Site acquisition, including identification, research, and analysis of potential locations.
- Site development that maximizes the use of space.
- The latest technology to handle applications from Level 2 AC to 350kW DC charging.
- Proactive monitoring with in-depth asset management.
- Premium driver experience offering the latest technology to support the EV market.
- Robust testing of EV charging through Electrify America’s Center of Excellence technology lab.
- Intelligent energy management recommendations in order to provide cost-saving options.
The launch of Electrify Commercial reflects the parent company’s forward thinking approach to meet the growing demand for customized charging solutions across public and private sectors. The range and scale of services provided by the new entity offer an opportunity for businesses that is unique in the industry today.
Don’t think for a moment that Electrify America is doing all this out of some sense of altruism. It’s not. It is a business that is expected to be profitable and allow parent company Volkswagen Group to recoup at least some of the $5 billion it agreed to pay to settle all claims arising out of Dieselgate. If America winds up with a state of the art EV charging network that moves the EV revolution forward without help from taxpayers, that’s good news for us all.