I have an electric vehicle (EV), my second, in fact. My first, a 2011 Nissan Leaf, could charge from several format chargers and different levels: level1 (120V house current, normal plug), Level 2 (240V J1772 plug), and Level 3 (480V CHAdeMO plug). Level 1 and 2 are alternating current (AC) while level 3 is the much faster direct current (DC). Its theoretical fastest rate of charge is 46 Kw, but I never got it to charge that fast. The fastest I ever did get was about 19kw. I sold the Leaf. Now I have a Volvo XC40 Recharge. It has a much bigger battery and longer range. It also has the ability to charge much faster. This is important because I am about to take a long road trip.
Today I tried charging at an Electrify America (EA) charger. It went well. EA is the network of EV chargers set up by Volkswagen. That company is trying to rectify its major booboo that got it in trouble with Uncle Sam. You may recall a few years back it was discovered that VW had installed a software feature that allowed it to cheat on its mileage numbers on US test machines. As part of the settlement of charges, VW agreed to lower its average fleet MPG in all US cars by a large amount. One of the main ways to do that was to increase the number of EV models it sold. And that in turn led to it ramping up efforts to spread EV charging stations in necessary locations to encourage EV sales.
I don’t have a VW, but I appreciate the effort. It turns out that EA chargers not only charge at Level 3, but their chargers are typically 150kw and even 350kw units. My Volvo can only charge at the 150kw rate, and that’s what I did today. That still turns out to be more than six times the rate of charging that I typically did with my Leaf. I was impressed.
The charging station was at a large shopping center anchored by a Walmart. There were six stations and all six were full when I got there. Within five minutes a car pulled out and I was able to pull in to charge. I went from 56% full to 90% full in a half hour. I probably could have gone from 20% to 80% in about that same time because it charges a lot faster the lower the beginning state of charge and slows down a lot as the battery gets close to fully charged.
I had accounts and cards for other EV charging systems (ChargePoint, Blink, EvGo) and at first I was reluctant to get yet one more. But I’ve come to learn that these other stations aren’t always working, often have only one or two chargers, and don’t give you advance knowledge as to whether it is working or being used. They also typically have a maximum rate of 50kw. The EA installation was modern and clean looking and all six units were working. There are also more of them along I-5, the route I’ll be taking on my trip next week. So I’m glad I chose to join EA and I applaud VW.
I also got to see a bunch of other EVs, some for the first time: two different KIA models, a Porsche Taycan, a Tesla (not using a Tesla charger!), a Rivian, and a VW id.4). Cool!