One area of the EV experience that traditional automakers seem to have little thirst for is the DC fast charging network that recharges their cars over long drives or in cities where Level 1/2 charging is inaccessible. Volvo is now exploring its own DC Fast Charging network of sorts, and it’s teamed up with charging heavyweights Starbucks and Chargepoint to do so…
Sure, Volkswagen owns Electrify America, the result of the “dieselgate” settlement, and GM has invested in EVgo’s network, but compared to Tesla’s home-built Supercharger network, the other EV brands don’t have much to speak about.
Today, Volvo announced the first phase of a test that would allow its EV owners (and any CSS Combo compatible EVs) to travel between Colorado and Seattle easily with charging stations every 100 miles on average.
- The pilot will see as many as 60 Volvo-branded, ChargePoint DC fast chargers installed at up to 15 Starbucks locations, with installations to be complete by the end of the year.
- This will put a charging location every 100 miles on average, well within the battery range of most EVs.
- ChargePoint’s DC fast chargers can bring the Volvo C40 Recharge, for example, from 20 percent to 90 percent charge in about 40 minutes.
- Starbucks and Volvo will use this pilot to test and learn how customers use EV charging stations to understand the scalability of EV chargers across stores nationwide.
We reached out to Volvo, which clarified that it would be using a mix of ChargePoint DC equipment including the Express Plus and Express 250 units. The Express Plus is capable of delivering up to 350 kW to a single vehicle. The company also clarified that the charging stations would be able to be used by other automakers’ vehicles.
It’s a start, and props to Volvo for the significant announcement! But it also shows what a long way the industry has to go. The relatively modest 230-mile range of the Volvo C40 Recharge would mean you’d have to stop at every other 100-mile station for around seven or eight 40-minute coffee breaks (time for decaf!).
Volvo is conservative with its 230 mile range out of its 75kWh battery pack for the XC40 and C40 vehicles. Meanwhile, E-GMP cars from Hyundai/Kia or Tesla get 300 or more miles on similar sized packs. So that’s a disparity that the company will no doubt address.
With some more range, you might be able to stop at every third station, and with some faster charging speeds (Volvo says 20-90% charge in 40 mins), you might be able to get your coffee, use one of those wonderful Starbucks restrooms, and be on your way in 20 minutes. That’s the road trip experience we should be aiming for.
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