Volkswagen to 'Electrify America' With 2,800 EV Charging Stations

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Volkswagen Group has been a quite the busy bee when it comes to bolstering EV charging infrastructure. In addition to breaking ground on Europe’s new fast-charging network before the end of this year (with help from Daimler, BMW, and Ford), the brand’s Electrify America subsidiary is preparing to fulfill a court order that will force it to live up to its name.

A signification portion of VW’s emissions scandal penance involves investment into eco-centric technologies and the beefing up of the United States’ electric vehicle infrastructure. So, on Monday the company announced plans to install 2,800 EV charging stations in 17 of the largest U.S. cities by June of 2019.

While the overarching plan has remained largely the same, blowback from California forced Electrify America to deploy its charging stations more altruistically. Volkswagen initially proposed spending its first $120 million on 400 highway and community charging stations, but the California Air Resources Board pressed it to “make every attempt” to reserve 35 percent of its first 30-month investment cycle for disadvantaged communities “disproportionately affected by air pollution.”

The 2,800 forthcoming charging stations will now be located in roughly 500 locations, with around 75 percent of those at workplaces and the rest at multifamily dwellings — such as apartment buildings. The remaining locations will likely go to high-traffic areas seeing more frequent use.

“There hasn’t been a significant catalyst yet for ramping up the number of charging stations,” Scott Fisher, Greenlots’ vice president of market development, told Reuters. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to help create the electric vehicle infrastructure we need across the U.S.”

However, the argument could be made that Volkswagen’s earliest charging stations could do more good for advancing alternative powertrains if they’re situated in more affluent areas. While poor communities should definitely have access to the sites, it’s the financially secure that are coming out as early adopters of the new tech.

“One of the biggest barriers to the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles is access to chargers,” Mark McNabb, chief executive officer of Electrify America, said in a statement from November.

The VW subsidiary said it has selected SemaConnect, EV Connect, and Greenlots to install the stations. In total, $800 million will be spent in California for a total of $2 billion nationwide as part of Volkswagen’s post-emissions cheating agreement. The sum will be broken down into four 30-month periods over the next 10 years.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • La834 La834 on Dec 19, 2017

    I'm convinced that when EVs start catching on in a big way, most of the charging will be done at home. Solar roofs will become more common (and who knows, maybe solar tech will advance to the point where it only needs to be the size of a satellite dish, not a rooftop). The convenience of not having to stop at refueling stations will be part of the allure of electric cars, which will be charged nightly like we already to with our phones. Public charging stations will be needed for road trips and people who live in multiunit urban housing without parking, but many owners, especially early adopters, won't frequently need them. The wild card is whether car sharing becomes mainstream and people don't need to own or lease a car, and what that will do for the energy infrastructure.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 19, 2017

      Most EV charging is done at home already. In 3 years of driving a 12 Leaf, I used public chargers on a few times, and only twice did I pay for it. Partially, this was due to having such a short-range car that I couldn't take it on the road, anyway. Longer-range EVs will require more charging away from home. Solar, IMO, won't be affordable for a very long time. Solar only makes sense for someone who will enjoy it for a lifetime. For me at 54, it makes no sense to install $30k of solar panels (not to mention batteries and power management) so I can save up to $100/month on electricity.

  • Whittaker Whittaker on Dec 19, 2017

    I wonder how the pollution emitted by VW vehicles compares to the pollution emitted by the seemingly perpetual California wildfires.

    • HotPotato HotPotato on Dec 28, 2017

      Dunno, but some people would suggest a connection between vehicle emissions and the hotter, drier climate that makes those fires almost inevitable. (ALMOST inevitable...but a spark is still required. It would be swell if California's investor-owned utilities would maintain their transformers, gas pipelines etc. instead of running them until they literally explode, setting fire to their surroundings.)

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.