Your EV trip to Tahoe just got easier
The Mercury News
Louis Hansen · Aug 24, 2017
A pilot project is making an electric vehicle road trip in Northern California a little cheaper, easier and with a littleless range anxiety.
A fast-charging network, known as Drive the ARC, is bringing more than 50 new electric stations installed at about 25 sites from Monterey to Lake Tahoe.
The network — free to EV drivers with a smart phone app and a common charger, is an international, public-private collaboration aimed at supporting the spread of zero emission vehicles. Many sites are open, and the network is slated for completion this fall.
“It’s putting dots on the map to give people confidence,” said Tyson Eckerle, deputy director of zero emission vehicle infrastructure for Gov. Jerry Brown. “It’s all about finding good locations.”
California has an aggressive goal of putting 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the roads by 2025. Convincing drivers to pay a premium for plug-ins will be hard enough, but the state also needs a bigger network of charging stations to ease driver concerns about running out of charge during long road trips.
Since 2013, zero emission vehicles, or ZEVs, have made up 3.25 percent of all vehicle sales in California. ZEV sales are about 1 percent of all U.S. car sales this year. Researchers say building an infrastructure is key to growing the small market.
Drive the ARC, short for Advanced Recharging Corridor, came together through a grant from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, or NEDO, the Japan government’s research and development arm. The agency funded the $20 million project to improve energy conservation and strengthen relations between U.S. and Japan. Japanese companies Nissan Motor and Kanematsu are also leading the project.
A pair of Drive the ARC electric vehicle chargers are ready to be used behind the Summit House restaurant along Highway 17 in Los Gatos, California, on Monday, August 21, 2017. The chargers are part of a new $20 million network of electric vehicle chargers between Monterey and Lake Tahoe. (Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group)
The project will collect and analyze driver usagedata, and help companies better plan for additional charging network growth and consumer needs. Developers broke ground last year.
The stations form an arc on a map, mostly along Interstate 80, Highway 50 to the north and off Highway 101 and Highway 1 to the south. Planners chose stations along main routes, usually within a half-mile of an exit. They teamed up with Walmart and Raley’s to place stations in parking lots, allowing customers to shop, eat or grab a coffee during a refill.
The smart phone app allows drivers to see open stations and estimate cruising range, said Terry O’Day, vice president at charging company EVgo, another project partner. It also provides recommendations and directions to charging stations.
Charging will be free for EV drivers using their smart phone app and having a common CHAdeMO connector. Tesla drivers with special adapters can also use the stations.
Charge time varies by vehicle, although fast charging can generally provide a substantial refill in about 30 minutes.
“When you build a station, it’s like moths to a flame for EV drivers,” said O’Day. “Especially when you say free.”
Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America, said the public-private partnerships can help develop a reliable and easy to use system of charging stations. The state leads the country in EV infrastructure, he said, but charging resources can be stretched in regions like the Bay Area, with a high concentration of electric vehicles.
“You need to keep growing it,” he said.
A patchwork of EV charging stations at parking garages, shopping centers and other public spaceshave sprung up throughout the state. More are on the way.
California regulators approved an $800 million plan by Volkswagen to build charging stations and promote EVs throughout the state. It’s part of the German automaker’s settlement with the state after being caught cheating on emission tests with its diesel vehicles.
The first phase of Volkswagen’s Electrify America plan budgets $120 million to build 400 charging stations with roughly 2,000 to 3,000 chargers throughout California. About $75 million is earmarked to develop a high-speed charging system along highways.
Tesla has a robust and growing network of fast-charging stations, known as Superchargers, built across North America, Europe and Asia. The network is exclusive, servicing only Tesla vehicles.
Teslas ordered before Jan. 1 received free supercharging for the life of the car. Owners of newer vehicles receive a small amount of free fast charging, about 1,000 miles of range annually, before paying for the service.
The Palo Alto company has about 6,200 superchargers at nearly 1,000 locations around the world. Tesla built the network to allow its drivers to travel coast to coast.
The company plans to triple the number of superchargers in the next year to serve its expanding fleet. It delivered the first, lower-cost Model 3 sedans in July, and CEO Elon Musk hopes to ship as many as a half-million cars next year.
ARC stations will add another reliable refueling option for electric cars, Eckerle said. It will build confidence, he said, when a driver asks, “Could I take this car to Tahoe? The answer is ‘Yes.'”
Just in time to hit the end of summer and then not too long to wait for ski season - love it