Electrify America: Five Things You Need to Know
- Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America
- The company will spend $2 billion to establish ZEV infrastructure, awareness, and education.
- More than 2,000 chargers, at 484 sites, will be in place by the end of 2019
- Safety is a priority – charging may be accomplished in any weather
- There are two pricing levels: Electrify America Pass and Electrify America Pass+
Who is Electrify America?
Electrify America is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America that was established in 2017 as part of the court-ordered diesel emission settlement against the corporation. Electrify America is tasked with spending $2 billion over the next decade to establish Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure, awareness, and education. Electrify America’s efforts are mandated to be brand-neutral.
The company’s roll-out is broken into four 30-month cycles (Q1 2017 through Q4 2026). The first cycle focuses on creating a robust national EV charging network that is comprehensive, technologically advanced, and user friendly.
What is Electrify America’s charging network?
Like Tesla, Electrify America has focused its efforts on building a network that supports population zones of EV-adopters – the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, and Northeast. The network also includes the major East-West highway and interstate routes though cities such as Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago.
Electrify America plans to have more than 2,000 chargers, at 484 sites, by the end of 2019. And, unlike the commonplace Level 2 (about 7.5 kW) chargers, the company is installing high power DC (350 kW) units with the potential to recharge at rates approaching 20 miles-per-minute – speeds that rival traditional gasoline and diesel fuel refilling rates.
To deliver the substantial electrical flow to the parked vehicles, these sophisticated chargers use liquid-cooled hoses.
Electrify America’s charging stations are unique
Aside from their high charging rates, the free-standing units from Electrify America have been engineered and designed to be self-explanatory and effortless to use. While there are four different companies manufacturing the units, all utilize a consistent color theme (noted by its bright green illumination) and the same user interface – a high-resolution 15-inch color touchscreen with an identical, operating system.
All of the company’s chargers meet ISO 15118 standards, which means all communication and authentication with the vehicle happens automatically – the user does not need to specify the charging voltages, capacities, or speeds.
Charging at an Electrify America station is safe
Traditional fueling stations require the user to pay first, then insert the pump into the vehicle. It is the opposite with an Electrify America charger – users connect their vehicle first, then pay. This allows the station to communicate with the vehicle in order to establish rates and ensure the battery is in proper working order before charging begins.
Additionally, no electricity flows through the charging cable until this process (which takes upwards of 60 seconds) is complete – plugging in an electric car or truck is completely safe even while standing in a puddle during pouring rain. And, if there are any errors, malfunctions, or a power failure during charging, the station will automatically shut off the power flow and unlock the connector from the vehicle – immediately ending the charge.
Electrify America has two membership plans, plus a mobile app
Both are based on an estimated introductory charging rate of $.30-.35 per minute (pricing is expected to drop, based on region and local utility rates). The standard Electrify America Pass includes the standard per-minute cost of charging plus a $1 session fee each time a charger is visited. The Electrify America Pass+ has a lower per-minute cost, plus a $4/month subscription fee (no session fees).
This week, Electrify America announced a new mobile phone app that increases the convenience of charging across the company’s network. The app allows EV owners to locate a charger, pay for a charge, and track the charging session remotely. And, when the session is complete, the app will provide a receipt.
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