General Motors has announced a national network of quick charging stations for electric vehicles to be installed at Pilot and Flying J truck stops. Managed by EVgo (a subsidiary of the South Korean LS Group), the network may be the final piece of the puzzle for GM to make good on its promise to go all-electric. It’s already spent oodles on development, created partnerships with global battery suppliers, and now has a glut of EVs on the way –a glut of product that GM is hoping will resonate with consumers.
With the Biden administration hoping to transition the United States toward all-electric vehicles, it has set a goal of commissioning the construction of a nationwide network of 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030. But saying you’re going to do something as part of a $1-trillion infrastructure plan is a lot easier than actually doing it because there are a lot of steps that have to be taken before a plan can effectively be put into action. This is called planning and it’s something the government occasionally engages in to ensure a program is successful. As such, the Biden administration is issuing a series of standards and requirements for federally funded electric vehicle charging stations.
“To support the transition to electric vehicles, we must build a national charging network that makes finding a charge as easy as filling up at a gas station,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These new ground rules will help create a network of EV chargers across the country that are convenient, affordable, reliable and accessible for all Americans.”
Researchers with the University of California, Berkeley, are pouring cold water of the premise that electric vehicle charging stations will require less maintenance than traditional fueling solutions. The study, which examined 657 individual connectors between 181 public fast-charging stations in the San Francisco Bay area found that about 23 percent were nonfunctional.
That seems quite a bit higher than the number of fuel pumps that might be down at any given station, though the pertinent question is why those EV charging points were inoperable.
With the volume having been turned down on just about every business sector imaginable, automakers have spent most of this year explaining how supply chain shortages are impacting production and making promises about electric vehicles. However, the rhetoric surrounding electrification has gotten so aggressive that it’s fast becoming another contentious issue, leading to vicious arguments as people square up to take sides. Part of this is due to the enterprising way in which zero-emission vehicles are being marketed and subsequently embraced by world leaders that don’t know jack about the manufacturing or the environment. Much of the discourse surrounding electrification (pro or con) lacks nuance and leads to businesses promising whatever they can in an effort to obtain your unquestioning belief.
For example, EVs are frequently promoted as boasting substantially lower operating costs due to there being no reliance on liquid fuel. Though finding the truth actually requires one to make a comparative analysis while taking into account how, where, and what you’re driving. There’s even a new study out from the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) attempting to determine the true savings of swapping to an EV where the researchers ultimately decided gasoline-powered cars were actually easier on the wallet. However, that likewise requires loads of clarifying context and conditional factors.
Filling up your car’s fuel tank is a normal and familiar chore for almost every car owner, right? You’re all familiar with the idea of driving a few hundred miles – whether that’s all at once on a road trip or in starts and stops around town – then pulling up to your local fuel spot and buying more fuel. You don’t have a fuel pump at home that you use to top off your car every night, and that’s perfectly normal. You don’t seek out apartments based on whether or not they have a gas station on-site, and that’s perfectly normal, too. Why, then, are EV evangelists so Hell-bent on charging at home?
On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company’s proprietary charging network would be opened up to other brands by 2022. It’s something Europe has been pressing the automaker on for years and a topic that’s become increasingly popular in the United States. Tesla announced it had completed over 25,000 charging points this year and most Western governments have committed themselves to advance electrification whether or not consumers or the industry feels ready.
Tesla is being sued in California by an owner that’s claiming the automaker broke its promise of a lifetime of free charging after it started imposing fees upon people who allowed their cars to sit at stations for too long. For those of you that don’t recall, Tesla began rolling out its Supercharger network in 2012 and promised unlimited free charging as a way to entice early adopters. While it doesn’t pertain to all vehicles and has existed in various incarnations, gratis electricity was available on most properly equipped Model S and Model X purchased by 2016. But the deal has existed in various incarnations through 2020 and has been confusing customers almost as much as the apparently bogus self-driving suite.
As the brand became more popular, you’d start seeing Tesla owners populating Supercharging stations in greater numbers and chattering about their interests. Unfortunately, those extended diatribes on the merits of TEDx and spending a fortune on minimalist interior home design resulted in stations being occupied but going unused. To discourage this Tesla began imposing fines in 2016, noting that it hoped never to make money on the updated arrangement.
Tesla has resurrected its plan to provide free, unlimited access to its supercharger stations for the automaker’s customers. While the company frequently rejiggers its product offerings, this one still came out of left field. CEO Elon Musk called the plan unsustainable when the company officially eliminated it in 2018.
However, with the manufacturer seeing increasing sales volume from the Model 3, its premium models are falling by the wayside. Tesla reported 95,200 deliveries in the second quarter, the vast majority being the Model 3. While the company managed to generate $6.3 billion in revenue in the second quarter from those transactions, weaker Q1 volumes took a bite out of its share price and it still lost money through both periods. But it lost a couple hundred million less in Q2 thanks to the uptick in sales.
Along with the rest of Volkswagen AG, Audi has made plans to invest heavily into electric vehicles. The company expects EVs to comprise 25 percent of its U.S. sales by 2025 and is devoting the e-tron moniker to an entire division of electrified models, with the first arriving next year.
Addressing the J.D. Power Summit at this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo, Audi of America President Scott Keogh told salesmen to welcome the electric mobility market with open arms or learn to cope with an ambivalent future. However, jumping head-first into a relatively small market with a huge potential for growth isn’t without pitfalls, and it isn’t unwise for dealers to remain cautious. Still, with Audi planning to introduce three new BEVs within the United States by 2020 and Volkswagen Group hoping to have 30 battery-electric models out by the 2025, you can see why Keogh is pressing the issue.
Ford Motor Company announced today that it is committing itself fully to the development of electric vehicles, including a hybridized Mustang and F-150 pickup, a small electric crossover, and a fully-autonomous hybrid unit. Company CEO Mark Fields expressed his faith in the future of electric cars and Ford’s intention of bringing 13 new electrified models to the global market within the next five years.
“The era of the electric vehicle is dawning and we at Ford plan to be a leader in this exciting future,” Fields said. “Leading in electrification, in autonomy, and also connectivity are critical as we expand to be both an auto and a mobility company.”
Nissan and BMW announced Monday that they would add 120 public fast-charging stations in 19 states to significantly expand electric vehicle infrastructure for cars not called Tesla.
The 120 stations would supplement to Tesla’s network of more than 200 Supercharger sites around the U.S. and Canada, placed throughout the countries that serve as a backbone for long-distance EV travel. (Coast to coast records are already a thing.)
Sorry, North Dakota, still no love for you. It’s a shame. Fargo is such a super town.
I have a 1996 Nissan Pathfinder that I bought new and has since accumulated 90,000 miles . I plan on driving it until it dies because I still enjoy it and it gets me to all the great fishing spots, plus I have a “fun” car in the garage (’74 TR6) for when the weather is nice. My issue is about the starter (I think) on the Pathfinder.
EV “conversions” make for strange bedfellows when it comes to competition. There is no gasoline Kia Soul that competed even slightly with Mercedes or BMW. Oddly enough however, when you electrify one of the least expensive cars in America, you end up with with a Kia on the same cross-shop list as the i3 and B-Class Electric. Obviously a Kia Soul EV vs i3 vs B-Class comparison table is at the extreme end, but I am surprised how many folks wanted to hear that comparison. It isn’t just the luxury-cross shops that become possible however, comparisons normally considered to be “one-tier up” and “one-tier down” become more reasonable as well. For instance, the gasoline Soul isn’t a direct competitor to the Fiat 500 or the Ford Focus, but in EV form they are head to head.
If you’re just now reading this series, here’s what’s going on. Because reviews of electric vehicles (my own included) seem to be 1/4 review and 3/4 whining about EV related issues, I decided to divorce the review from the “EV experience” and post daily about driving a car with an 80-95 mile range. You can catch up by going to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 before coming back to the saga. Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you. Day three ended with my battery at 15% because I drove the orange creamsicle Fiat we have named “Zippy Zappy” over 175 miles. I don’t have a 240V charging cable at home so the car told me it would be 24 hours until the car was charged at 120V. Good thing day four was a Saturday.
Because of my RA (Range Anxiety), I drove Zippy Zappy gently on day 1, plugged the EV in immediately upon arriving at home and nixed my impromptu drive to the beach. (I haven’t named a car since I was 12 but the garish orange hue and pill-box proportions have made the name stick.) Thanks to my prudence (or was it fear?) I awoke to a 90% charge. According to Fiat’s computer, that was good for an 87 mile journey, plenty for my 52 mile one-way commute. Of course, it was after I started climbing up the mountain pass that separates my home from civilization that I asked “how am I going to charge today?”