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Volkswagen's Plans to Electrify America with a Network of EV Chargers

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【Summary】What's the reason behind Volkswagens selfless and generous act of kindness?

Manish Kharinta    Nov 14, 2018 6:00 AM PT
Volkswagen's Plans to Electrify America with a Network of EV Chargers
author: Manish Kharinta   

Tesla, a pioneer in the electric vehicle segment was also the first one to dedicate substantial capital towards the development of a reliable wide-area EV charging infrastructure. A convenient and dependable charging infrastructure is thought to be a major hurdle in the mass adoption of electric vehicles. 

Now the German car manufacturer, Volkswagon is being made to do the same. Electrify America, which is a Volkswagen subsidiary, will invest $2 billion for the development of a nationwide network of DC fast chargers which will be accessible to owners of all brands. This investment will be made over the course of next decade.

What's the reason behind Volkswagen's selfless and generous act of kindness? Dieselgate! The fallout of the infamous emissions cheating scandal has resulted in a settlement between Volkswagen and federal regulators. 

In the past, the German automaker has admitted to cheating emissions test by installing bypassing software in its diesel offerings. As a result, federal regulators have issued the Electrify America mandate. The Mandate requires Volkswagen to develop an infrastructure which will promote adoption of zero-emission cars in the U.S.

Brendan Jones, the CEO of Electrify America said that this mandate is an opportunity to establish a sustainable charging infrastructure model. Right now, Tesla has a global supercharging infrastructure which comprises 11,200 charging locations. This infrastructure has aided in sales of Tesla offerings, but Tesla's proprietary charging network cannot be used by other electric vehicles. 

If Volkswagen and Electrify America succeed in building this network, sales of electric vehicles from other manufacturers might see a substantial surge. In an official statement, Tesla confirmed that it managed to triple its deliveries through September of this year, as compared to its sales in 2017.

As of August this year, EV sales only accounted for around 1 percent of the total cars sold in North America. There is an imminent need for a wide charging infrastructure equal to the gas station network present today to persuade car buyers into adopting electric vehicles. It is crucial that the charging network for electric vehicles expands further and faster, because electric vehicles will amount for 12 percent of light passenger vehicles in the U.S by the year 2025, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Electrify America mandate will be carried out in four 30 month cycle phases. In the first phase, $500 million will be invested to deploy 484 direct current fast charger sites by mid 2019 in 17 urban areas. 24 of these sites are already open and 500 multi-family residential and business sites will also receive 2800 level 2 Chargers.

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