ChargePoint, BMW, and VW complete a pair of coastal fast-charging corridors | Ars Technica
As Tesla’s vocal fans will tell you, a significant factor in that company’s success is the fast-charging infrastructure it has built out. According to the Department of Energy, there are a total of 1,881 DC fast-charging stations and 4,109 charging outlets for EVs across the nation.
But Tesla Superchargers account for 297 of those stations and 1,973 of the charging outlets—a more than significant share. (For the sake of consistency, we’ve used the data from the DOE site. However, when you take the number of individual SAE Combo, CHAdeMO, and Tesla stations and outlets together, there appear to be a few discrepancies.) Things are going to get a little better for non-Tesla drivers on the East and West Coasts, though. On Tuesday, ChargePoint, BMW, and Volkswagen announced the completion of a pair of express corridors: one from Boston to Washington, DC, and another from Portland, Oregon, to San Diego, with 95 DC fast-charging stations in total.
If you need to fast-charge your non-Tesla EV, you better live near one of the coasts!
It’s been a busy year for ChargePoint so far; at the end of August, the company announced that it activated its 30,000th charging spot, located at Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“Our mission is to get everyone into an EV, and as the number of EVs on the road increases, we’re building features that ensure charging and driving an EV is a seamless experience,” said Pat Romano, ChargePoint CEO.
We caught up with Romano a couple of weeks ago to chat about the state of EV charging infrastructure in the US, something he was quite bullish about. For one thing, ChargePoint’s sales cycle is now under 90 days, “and that’s not three deals a quarter—it’s hundreds and hundreds,” he told us. In particular, the company now has a good handle on the apartment building market, he told us.
“Infrastructure that doesn’t contribute to increased rent is a challenge for them to invest in,” Romano said. “So you have to figure how to have a recurring model to the driver that doesn’t break the economics of owning an EV (which makes the driver happy) but that balances the amount of upfront investment that has to be made by the property owners. Because there’s quite a sensitivity to infrastructure costs versus return on rent. We think we’ve figured that out.”
That equation involves ChargePoint setting a recurring monthly fee for the property owners on top of the cost of the electricity, the latter passed on to the EV driver.
We also spoke about the expansion of charging corridors, something the White House is extremely keen to see happen, with $4.5 billion in federal loan guarantees being offered as part of the DOE’s Title XVII Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Solicitation.
“Corridors are a good start, but you need every highway covered in the US at a practical distance to make the statement to consumers ‘there’s no place you can’t get.’ We think it’s every 75 miles to start,” he told us. “The reason gas stations are more often is if you spaced gasoline stations that far on highways, you’d need 100 pumps at every site, and it’s not practical to take up that much real estate at one spot. You plan to start with two to four ports and let that expand as each site can handle.”
“What we’re already doing with corridor programs is sitting literally on the property of something to buy or do,” Romano said. “What’s interesting is that those businesses are embracing it. They say, ‘You mean someone’s going to be spending 20-30 minutes? That’s a captive audience!’ When you’re on a long trip, you don’t mind stopping every 200 miles because that’s between three to four hours—you’re going to want to walk the dog, get snacks, and so on.”
While we still have some way to go before CHAdeMO and SAE combo DC fast-chargers are as thick on the ground as Tesla Superchargers, it seems there is cause for optimism.