Electrify America published its first annual reports to the EPA and to California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) just 2 days before its first ultra-fast charging location opens to public use in Massachusetts.
The station, adjacent to a Home Depot store in the town of Chicopee, is near the intersection of I-90 and I-91 about 90 miles east of Boston and 30 miles north of Hartford, Connecticut. A planned opening ceremony Wednesday afternoon (delayed from last week) with company, state and local officials will mark the first public access in the U.S. to equipment that can charge electric vehicles at a peak rate of nearly 350 kilowatts using liquid-cooled charging cables and connectors.
The 4 adjacent charging spaces at the Chicopee site are served by dual-cable pedestals and include a mix of 4 cables capable of up to 350 kW, 3 cables capable of up to 150 kW, and a single 50 kW cable. This design apparently sets a pattern for nearly 300 other highway locations to be installed or under construction by June, 2019.
The higher-rate liquid-cooled cables support the CCS or Combined Charging System, based on the DC version of the J1772 connector, used by most automakers selling to the North American market. The 50 kW cable (which will later be upgraded to support 100 kW) supports cars that use CHAdeMO connectors such as the Nissan LEAF and uses a conventional cable. Tesla vehicles can also use CHAdeMO at near 50 kW via an available adapter.
Liquid-cooled cables and connectors for CHAdeMO are not yet fully tested and certified for use in charging equipment, according to industry sources, even though the CHAdeMO Association has already approved specifications for using them to charge at the 350A and above rates supported by CCS.
The different cables and their power capabilities will initially be priced the same for drivers, according to the company, but this may change later. Actual prices have not yet been announced. Payment can be made by credit card, Apple Pay or Android Pay, or an Electrify America smartphone app to be released in the future. In addition, Electrify America announced support for the “Plug and Charge” CCS feature which can automatically recognize and begin charging a car immediately after it is plugged in.
In addition to the nearly 300 highway charging locations in 39 states, another 180 or so community charging locations in 17 cities will also include DC charging with 50 kW and 150 kW units in “depot” clusters of between 3 to 6 charging spaces. The highway locations will feature between 4 to 10 charging spaces with an average of 5 spaces.
The company has previously installed 32 co-branded 50 kW DC chargers at existing EVgo locations in 2017 but all new locations going forward are unique to Electrify America.
The DC charging locations in California are being designed and constructed by Black and Veatch, the same firm that has been used by Tesla to build its proprietary nationwide ultra-fast Supercharger network since 2012. Multiple contractors have been selected to install locations in various other regions of the U.S.
Charging station reliability is a concern often voiced by drivers. Electrify America says it has established maintenance agreements that require that broken or impaired charging equipment must be repaired within 72 hours. Drivers can report problems via a posted telephone number answered by a human operator 24-hours a day.
Slower 240V AC charging equipment supporting peak power levels between 6.6 and 9.6 kW is being built at hundreds of locations in 17 cities. Some 75 percent will be installed for use by employees at workplaces and the remainder will be installed at multi-unit residential complexes. The company has hired SemaConnect, EV Connect, and Greenlots to plan, install, and operate the 240V community charging although the equipment will support and be part of Electrify America’s overall network.
As part of the California investment plan, Sacramento has been selected for a $44 million “Green City” project that seeks to test and demonstrate transformational change toward use of zero carbon emission vehicles for car and ride sharing services, delivery, and shuttle vans or busses.
An education and awareness campaign including print, radio, television, and online media is also being developed and funded during the next year and brand-neutral “Discover and Drive” events are already being held at various locations.
Separately, the company announced it has named Giovanni Palazzo as its new CEO to replace Mark McNabb who is leaving the organization after holding key executive positions within Volkswagen of America since 2013.