Battery range is among the top concerns for most people buying an electric car. For one, having to stop for a charge more often than you stop to fill up a gas tank is incredibly annoying. Then there’s the problem of waiting, at a minimum, 30 minutes to get a charge at current speeds.
That’s why comfortable charging stations with seating and shade just make sense. And soon, that's exactly what we'll have. On Thursday, Volkswagen announced that one of its subsidiaries is rolling out luxe, multicharger stations in major cities across the country.
The public charging stations will be operated by Electrify America, which came into existence in the wake of Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal. Most of the company's charging stations are located in parking lots and other locations that are hardly where you'd want to spend your time waiting to get your EV battery topped up. Electrify America's so-called "flagship" charging stations will be coming to Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Diego and Beverly Hills, as well as Manhattan and Brooklyn, between now and 2023.
The new charging stations, though, will host comfy seating and much, much more. There will be dedicated event spaces; there will be valet options; and there will even be curbside delivery — a subtle acknowledgment that, yes, it can still take longer to charge a Volkswagen ID.4 or other comparable EV than it does to receive a food delivery order through Uber Eats. Porsche — which is owned by Volkswagen — announced the rollout of similar, exclusive stations internationally last week — but now us plebs will have our own lounge-like charging stations, too.
Looks like a chill place to spend a few minutes.Photo: Electrify America
The most important part of today's announcement, however, is that Volkswagen will be installing 400 to 500 more solar awnings at 100 charging stations nationwide. Only two of their current charging stations have solar charging capabilities, both in California. The rest use traditional electricity sources based on the station’s location — and given that America’s electric grid is still not powered by renewables, that means a lot of that power still comes from natural gas and coal. Pumping energy from the sun directly into your EV while you get to chill in a comfy charging station sure sounds like living the dream.
Notably, neither last week’s Porsche announcement nor today’s announcement from Volkswagen makes any comment about food options or bathrooms — and if you’ve been to a gas station literally ever, you know that’s something drivers expect to find when they make a pit stop. We're going to have to assume Volkswagen has a plan for that, though. Right?