Electric vehicles are the automobiles of the future. Several major automakers have publicly announced plans to electrify their lineups. Electric vehicles are improving, but that means suitable charging networks have to be in place to power these vehicles. Volkswagen has invested billions of dollars into Electrify America, an American EV charging network.
Charging has been one of the biggest hurdles on the road to electric vehicle dominance in America. EVs only account for a small part of the total market share of vehicles. A large part of why EVs are not bought as often as gas-powered vehicles is because their practicality is still in question, regardless of which automaker they come from.
Charging is a huge part of the electric vehicle experience because EV chargers are few and far between in most states. To make matters worse, many of the available electric chargers don’t provide the fast charging needed to actually be useful. A large network of chargers is necessary to help charge more EVs and make low driving ranges less of an issue.
Electrify America is looking to create one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in the country. Think gas station chain but with electricity instead of gas. Electrify America is ambitious, but it has the backing of the legendary automaker Volkswagen and a few billion dollars.
Volkswagen and Electrify America
Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, but the reasons behind its existence are more complex than meets the eye. Make no mistake, Electrify America will do good for the country, the environment, and ultimately the world, but the chronology of events that led to the company is where things get interesting. Volkswagen hasn’t exactly been forthcoming when it comes to the automaker’s emissions in the past. Electrify America’s creation could be viewed more as necessary repentance than an act of sheer goodness.
Volkswagen has embraced the electric future now but has been part of many an emissions scandal prior to its new green image. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused Volkswagen of producing misleading emissions reports. This accusation came at a time when the automotive industry was being heavily scrutinized for emissions.
From reluctance to recharge
Volkswagen had to atone for the additional harm it had caused to the environment. The company agreed to invest two billion dollars into the promotion of electric vehicles in America. Volkswagen was required to make a charging network for EVs, and thus Electrify America was born, opening its first American station in 2018. Whether or not Volkswagen was reluctant to create the charging network, it is certainly standing behind its creation as it seeks additional funds for expansion.
The electric charging station arena surprisingly isn’t very competitive, considering that most vehicles will require charging stations in the future. Tesla’s Supercharger Network is essentially unrivaled because of its quick charging capabilities. Tesla has also recently announced that the superchargers will be compatible with vehicles from other automakers. So how does Volkswagen ensure that its two billion dollar investment isn’t for naught? Scale.
What better way to scale Electrify America’s network of charging stations than seek out a new investor. According to Reuters, Volkswagen is seeking a co-investor willing to bet a billion dollars on its charging network. This is huge news for the future of EVs because if Volkswagen were to receive such a large investment, it could set up many charging stations across the U.S.
The race to recharge America
Electrify America still has to compete with ChargePoint and Tesla, but this investment could give it the necessary boost it needs to dominate the market. EVs and hybrid models are popping up in every automaker’s lineup. The race to see which company will power them has begun and is about to get a lot more interesting.