It took 50 years from the time the first gas stations cropped up until a nationwide network of gasoline and diesel filling stations emerged. Despite technological, economic and political obstacles, building out a nationwide web of electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations and supporting infrastructure is likely to emerge in far less time, perhaps as little as two decades.
On Jan. 23, two of the world's largest automakers – Volkswagen and BMW – announced they are teaming up with ChargePoint to build out EV fast-charging station corridors on the U.S. East and West coasts. The project is the largest and most ambitious since Tesla announced plans to build out a cross-country chain of EV charging stations back in late 2012.
Volkswagen of America on Feb. 10 followed up with a dollar figure, announcing it will invest $10 million in the EV infrastructure project by 2016. In a presentation given at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington, D.C., Jörg Sommer, VW of America vice president of product marketing and strategy, also called on the federal, state and local governments to do more to promote the build-out of EV infrastructure.
In carrying out “Think Blue. Factory,” VW has instituted or will institute no less than 5,000 individual measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, conserve energy, water and materials, and help assure ecosystems and natural resources are protected and conserved.
“We will continue to invest in the future to become the leading automotive group in both ecological and economic terms – with the best and most sustainable products,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Volkswagen AG Board of Management, said during an address at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Volkswagen's vision of zero tailpipe emissions e-mobility lies at the core of its holistic take on sustainability in the auto sector. The build-out of EV charging infrastructure is a keystone if VW, as well as BMW and other EV auto manufacturers, plan to capitalize on the development of EV markets in the U.S. and worldwide.
With the announcement that it will invest $10 million of its own capital by 2016 in building out EV charging infrastructure in the U.S., VW America is contributing to the cause. In addressing attendees at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in D.C. this week, Sommer stated that Volkswagen "believes continued legislative support is needed to reach the next level of electric vehicle adoption."
“Automakers have effectively delivered electric vehicles that can satisfy the needs of most American drivers. In addition to the investment we and other companies and industries are making, we would like to see federal financing support for establishing fast charging networks in urban areas and interstate corridors,” Sommer said.
*Images credit: VW Group AG
An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.