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The Future of EV Charging Is Arriving Soon!
Tesla to Open Some of Its Charging Network to All EVs; Truck Stops Quickly Adding Fast Chargers
The past week has been full of big announcements about expanding EV charging networks. This is excellent news.
To be clear, we have said for years that the “problem” with EV charging on the road is more a perception than a reality. We’ve traveled in parts of 13 different states. The only place we ever wanted to visit and couldn’t is Navajo Mountain, which you can only access via a 150-mile drive through remote parts of Arizona.
That said, a perceived problem is still a problem. The Federal Government has now set an official goal to ensure that fast chargers are available along all interstate highways at intervals of no more than 50 miles, within one mile of the freeway entrance.
This week’s biggest news was that Tesla has agreed to open some of its network to all EVs in 2024. Elon Musk first suggested this would happen two years ago; I suspect he’s been waiting to negotiate funding from the Federal Government. The day is coming soon!
Frankly, however, we’re more excited by announcements from truck stops. When traveling on road trips, that’s where we want to stop. Too often, chargers are at much less convenient locations like Walmart or Target. They tend to be further from the highway and aren’t designed for a quick pitstop.
Travel Centers of America announced a deal with Electrify America to put 1,000 chargers at 200 locations over five years beginning this year. Last summer, Pilot, Co., which owns the Pilot and Flying J chains of truck stops, announced that they would install chargers at 500 locations across the country in partnership with EVgo.
Part of what is driving network expansion—beyond market demand—is Federal incentives. You’ll be glad to read that one of the requirements for that funding is that chargers be functional 97 percent of the time!
That’s a big deal. It addresses the actual problem that lines up with the perception. The most common complaint we hear from EV drivers about charging isn’t that there are no chargers where they are needed; it is that they aren’t working. Imagine arriving at the only fast charger in a remote Nevada town in need of a charge only to discover the chargers are all out of service. It is great to see the Federal Government incentivizing better operational availability.
Ford and General Motors have also announced plans to add chargers to many of their dealerships and open them to people driving any EV. This is the least exciting news. Many dealerships already have EV chargers, and they are the worst places to get a charge. The hours are limited, and while a charger could be set up to work without supervision, dealers rarely make them accessible after hours.
Good holy heck, we’ve visited dealers looking for a charge frequently only to find the chargers are broken or “ICEd” (blocked by VICEs—Vehicles with Internal Combustion Engines owned by the dealership). Can you imagine a place you’d less like to visit or people you’d less like to be trapped with for 30 minutes than used car sales teams? (Yes, the dentist, the proctologist or the IRS auditor’s office.)
Still, we’d rather know they are there and never have to use them than live entirely dependent on Electrify America, EVgo and Tesla.
We are rapidly approaching a situation that will be more like gas stations, where we’ll have convenient choices. That should not only make road trips more convenient but, in the long run, cheaper.