We’ve been watching the expansion of Electrify America since it began in 2018. While the stations often show up at Walmart stores, in many smaller towns that don’t have a Walmart, the company had to partner with somebody else like a restaurant, hotel, or other business.
Sometimes the business is a great place for people charging an EV. When Electrify America first partnered with Walmart and put in stations, the stores were nearly all 24-hour locations that gave drivers access to food, drinks, and a bathroom. But, with the pandemic, Walmart had to set a closing time, and now night-time drivers might get access to a trash can at these sites at most. It’s unclear whether Walmart will ever go back to being a 24-hour store, but Electrify America seems to have figured out that the Walmart partnership has some downsides.
Fortunately, Electrify America recently struck another deal that’s going to not only expand its charging network, but give EV drivers a great place to be while their vehicle charges up, whether they’re daytime drivers or night owls. Their new partner? TravelCenters of America, which also owns Petro truck stops. The plan is to offer electric vehicle charging at select TA/Petro locations, with the first stations planned to be deployed in 2023.
Over the span of five years, TA plans to install 1000 individual chargers across 200 locations on major roads. With Electrify America’s DC fast charging solutions, they will manage and control every aspect of the installation process — from obtaining permitting approvals to providing warranty services and 24/7 support.
TA and Electrify America provide exceptional solutions to EV drivers, from areas near exits on major highways, Wi-Fi access at TA locations, modern bathrooms, hyper-fast charging speeds of up to 350 kW for capable cars, integrated Plug & Charge payment technology, to 24/7 customer service and a network operations center.
“TA’s large locations with expansive amenities are attractive to EV motorists and we are committed to expanding our EV charging infrastructure to accommodate this growing number of EV drivers over time,” said Jon Pertchik, Chief Executive Officer of TravelCenters of America. “Our agreement with best-in-class Electrify America provides an unmatched offering of excellence in locations, service, support.”
Electrify America will also be in charge of maintenance at all sites through its Electrify Commercial business unit. Electrify Commercial — the division of Electrify America designed to provide comprehensive EV charging solutions for businesses, utility providers, fleet owners, travel centers and convenience stores — is creating custom-made programs suited to meet customers’ specific needs. TravelCenters of America is taking advantage of the opportunity that Electrify Commercial presents it by owning its own charging stations while taking advantage of Electrify America’s expertise in constructing the widest open DC-fast charging network across the United States.
While the EV scene on social media is pretty unhappy with Electrify America, we haven’t yet seen whether the Electrify Commercial stations are getting more proactive maintenance than the wholly-owned Electrify America stations. I’m personally hoping that TA and other partners like APS in Arizona hold the company’s feet to the fire on uptime and reliability, but we’ll have to see how that goes. If you do come across a broken Commercial station on the EA network, it’s probably a good idea to report the outage or problem both to EA and to the site owner.
Like regular Electrify America stations, TA’s stations will be included on the Electrify America charging network, allowing customers to access and pay for charging through the Electrify America app just the same. I’ve noticed that Electrify Commercial stations appear differently on the app, but activating and charging with them works just the same way.
“Electrify America is pleased to collaborate with an industry leader like TravelCenters of America to provide the critical infrastructure needed for EV drivers of today and tomorrow,” said Giovanni Palazzo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Electrify America. “Our combined strengths allow us to take bigger steps toward our shared vision of a more sustainable future.”
What I Really Like About This
Back in high school, I worked evenings at a TA truck stop. One thing I remember was that on day one there was a training video explaining the TA bathroom policy. In short, the bathrooms were to always be clean, no matter what. They even had video clips from customers saying how important the clean bathrooms were because TA puts up billboards promising clean restrooms. So, if the restroom gets dirty, everybody should not only feel bad about it, but ashamed for breaking a promise.
And yes, in daily operations, it was a big deal. You didn’t skip the bathroom checks, ever. If you went in there for yourself on a break, you were expected to fix anything you saw wrong or if it was something big, tell somebody about it. So, the bathrooms were never dirty. We didn’t dare.
I got another job in college doing computer work for better money, but I still feel like the place treated me fairly and with dignity, which is something I can’t say about every employer I’ve ever worked for. I still stop in at TA over other choices when there’s an exit with several places to go. They have a good variety of snacks and drinks, fuel prices are usually good (back when I road tripped on gas power), and there’s usually at least one restaurant to eat at and places to sit. I’ve also never come across one that seemed unsafe, and I can’t say the same for other truck stops.
So, yes, they’re actually a very good choice for EV charging, and this is great news for EV drivers.
What I didn’t know before coming across the press release today was that the company also owns Petro truck stops, which are apparently going to get at least some of the stations. I don’t have as much experience with Petro as TA, but the ones I’ve been to seem to have a good variety of services, drinks, snacks, and food open 24 hours, too. So, again, they’re a good choice for EV charging.
Finally, this partnership is definitely going to increase the density of EV charging along US Interstate highways. I’d imagine that in many states, there will now be an EA station every 50ish miles, and that’s before NEVI (Infrastructure Bill) stations, GM’s Pilot/Flying J/Ultium stations, and more VW settlement stations start popping up. So, the chances of becoming stranded or having trip plans ruined by a station outage are going to get a lot smaller over the next few years, with this being an important contribution.
Featured image provided by Electrify America and TA.
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