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VW, BMW and ChargePoint partner to create SAE Combo DC fast charging corridors on the East and West Coasts

In a major boost to the availability of public fast charging stations with SAE Combo connectors (J1772, earlier post), Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced at the Washington Auto Show an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts.

In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically spaced at a maximum of 50 miles (80 km) apart. Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC fast chargers or 24 kW DC fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector. The 50 kW fast chargers will also have a CHAdeMO connector available, according to Volkswagen, while the 24 kW units will be SAE Combo only, at least to start.

The SAE Combo connector is used in both BMW and Volkswagen electric vehicles as well as the Chevrolet Spark EV, with more applications anticipated. These newly installed DC Fast chargers will be added to the growing ChargePoint network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America.

All three companies are making a significant investment to achieve the goal of nearly 100 fast charging ports by the end of 2015. The partners say they expect additional private and public funding to expand this program nationally.

Public fast charging in the US. There are three fast charging standards currently active in the US: the Japan-developed CHAdeMO (used e.g. in the Nissan LEAF, Kia Soul EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV); the Tesla Supercharger (used in the Model S); and now the SAE Combo, used by BMW, VW, and GM (Spark EV).
Tesla continues to build out its network of Supercharger fast charging stations, which are well represented along the East and West coasts.
A variety of initiatives have established CHAdeMO charging corridors in the US as well—again, well represented on both coasts.
According to the most recent (22 Jan 2015) figures from US DOE, there are 1,344 CHAdeMO DC fast charging connectors active in the US, excluding private stations; 908 Tesla Supercharger connectors; and 208 SAE J1772 connectors. All maps from DOE AFDC, with data as of 22 Jan 2015. Click to enlarge.

The express charging corridors will provide electric vehicle drivers access to SAE DC Fast chargers along the most heavily populated and highly-trafficked regions on Interstate 95 on the east coast, from Boston to Washington, D.C., and on the west coast covering and connecting the metropolitan areas of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

When charging at a 50 kW station, both the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf can charge up to 80% in 20 minutes. Both vehicles can charge up to 80% in 30 minutes at a 24 kW station. Locations will also include Level 2 chargers, currently the most commonly available public charging stations, which are compatible with all electric vehicles. Level 2 stations can dispense up to 25 miles of range per hour of charging, providing a full charge for the BMW i3 and the VW e-Golf within 3.5 to 4 hours.

DC Charging 11
DC charging the BMW i3 (left) and Volkswagen e-Golf (right). Click to enlarge.

A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable. The express charging corridors are another important step in the development of the US e-mobility infrastructure that makes longer distance travel a real option for consumers, particularly along the most heavily trafficked portions of both coasts—making the BMW i3 and other electric vehicles even more appealing.

—Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America

Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility in order to create a seamless experience for the consumer. The investment in the express charging corridor will provide e-Golf and other electric vehicle owners with the added support to travel their day-to-day and popular long distance routes.

—Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America

The DC Fast charging stations will be part of the ChargePoint network and can be easily accessed with a ChargePoint or ChargeNow card or with the ChargePoint mobile app.


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