VW's Electrify America Sticks With Walmart for EV Charging Expansion
Roughly a year ago, Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America announced a partnership with Walmart to help proliferate EV charging sites across the United States. Equal parts penance for VW’s illegal diesel shenanigans and shrewd business arrangement, the deal sought to establish plug-in points at 100 store locations in 34 states.
On Thursday, the companies announced the completion of 120 charging stations and signalled their intent to continue collaborating — citing future development programs in the District of Columbia and 46 U.S. states.
Thus far, the auto has primarily focused on selling electric vehicles along the coasts — resulting in the vast majority of charging sites bookending the country. However, in addition to the obvious benefits of hooking up with one of the largest retailers in history, Electrify America says its Walmart partnership provides an opportunity for EV charging stations to make inroads into the heartland. Since its stores are frequently found near major highways, the firm said Walmart is helping to provide a much-needed resource for EV owners hoping to take a road trip.
The stations themselves feature 150 kilowatt (kW) and 350kW DC Fast Chargers, which Electrify America claims can restore 20 miles of range per minute — provided the vehicle is equipped to handle it.
“EV drivers can now travel across the country on major interstates and highways with a large concentration of EV chargers along U.S. interstates,” said Electrify America. “EV charging station placement along many of these routes allow for EV drivers the option to solely recharge at Walmart stores during their travels. Examples of routes include Houston to Chicago via I-45, I-35 and I-44, San Antonio to St Louis via I-35 and I-44 and Washington DC to Savannah, GA via I-95.”
The Walmart deal could help to normalize electric vehicles in parts of the country where they don’t make a lot of sense. While 120 stations spread across 34 states isn’t exactly a deluge, it enhances Walmart’s corporate image and could eventually create a new customer base for the chain. Since EVs can’t refuel like traditional gas-powered vehicles, drivers are often stuck waiting while their car recharges. That effectively makes them a captive audience and, with nowhere else to go, they might decide to go shopping to pass the time. Meanwhile, Volkswagen can fulfill its legal commitments while simultaneously improving the charging infrastructure for the 22 million EVs it hopes to sell over the next decade.
[Images: Electrify America]
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