Challenges can sometimes lead to opportunities. When Volkswagen got caught doctoring the software in its diesel-powered passenger cars, it had to pony up $5 billion in penalties to the US federal government and the various states to atone for its sins. Part of that included $2 billion to create Electrify America, a network of mostly DC fast chargers similar to the Tesla Supercharger system. To date, EA says it has created 758 charging locations in the United States, with another 76 scheduled to open soon. There are 3,010 DC fast chargers in operation — an average of a little more than 4 per location — plus 116 Level 2 AC chargers in various locations.
Electrify America announced this week that Siemens Financial Services, a division of Siemens AG, has agreed to invest $450 million in the company and will have a seat on the EA board of directors going forward. The new investment is part of Siemens’ continued efforts to advance open and accessible US electric vehicle charging infrastructure and its broader goals of decarbonization. The investment also lays the groundwork for future collaboration between Siemens Smart Infrastructure and Electrify America on the technologies and services that will continue the build-out of high quality, reliable charging solutions.
In addition, Volkswagen Group is increasing its capital investment in Electrify America beyond its original commitment of $2 billion through 2026, noting Electrify America’s significant momentum, accelerated growth, and long term value of its ultra-fast charging network. That’s the silver lining in the Dieselgate cloud. Although Electrify America is not permitted to brand itself as an instrumentality of Volkswagen, this latest investment from an outside company suggests the network may one day be a profitable investment and not just an albatross around Volkswagen’s neck.
Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen board member for technology, emphasizes: “With our recent investment, we confirm our commitment to keep growing in the charging and energy business. We are supporting e-mobility in North America to more than double Electrify America’s charging infrastructure to 1,800 sites and 10,000 ultra-fast chargers by 2026. Siemens’ investment validates our electrification strategy to provide charging and energy solutions nationwide, and the company is a significant strategic technology and electrification partner for us on this route.”
The investments will support Electrify America’s accelerated growth plans through technological advancements in charging and energy solutions that include public, home, and commercial offerings.
“Siemens’ expertise in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and technology is a natural complement to Electrify America as we lead the transition to an eMobility transportation system in North America,” said Giovanni Palazzo, president and CEO of Electrify America. “We remain committed to our mission to rapidly expand ultra-fast and seamless charging to deliver a positive customer experience for electric vehicle owners both now and in the future.”
“Representing one of Siemens’ largest investments in electrified transportation, this strategic partnership with Electrify America aims to grow a collaborative ecosystem that propels EV adoption across the United States and Canada,” said Veronika Bienert, CEO, Siemens Financial Services. “Our unique ability to combine financial and technology know how helps to fulfill Siemens’ commitment to decarbonize key industries, accelerate the shift to sustainable mobility, and do so in a way that’s accessible for all.”
One of the biggest complaints about public EV chargers is that so many of them don’t function properly. With a global electronics company like Siemens playing a bigger role, Electrify America is on pace to set the standard for reliable EV charging in America. It’s likely that “plug and charge” technology will also be part of the company’s expansion plans.
Electrify America is also leading the way forward by designing charging locations that are inviting, safe, and comfortable, a trend that others will be inclined to follow. The better and more reliable EV charging becomes, the faster the EV Revolution will move forward. And to think none of this would have happened had Volkswagen not gotten caught up in that diesel cheating scandal.
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