Americans buy more electric cars every month. That was true even before gas prices crested $4 a gallon—a number many drivers see as a red line that will change their behavior. Now that high gas prices seem likely to be with us a while, more Americans than ever are shopping for electric vehicles.
However, one problem with EV ownership is that the experience of charging out in public is often unpleasant.
Current EV charging can be rough
Most EV charging takes place at home. But many EV owners have to charge their cars outside the home on longer trips. This often means pulling up to a single EV charger unprotected from the elements, paging through unfamiliar menus to input your payment details, and waiting in the car while the battery refills.
One of America’s largest charging networks, though, has a vision for a better charging experience.
About Electrify America
Electrify America calls itself “the largest public fast charging network in the U.S.,” though no government agency verifies such claims, and Tesla
says the same thing about its supercharger network. EA is a subsidiary of Volkswagen
though its chargers work for any EV (though Tesla owners need an adapter to make them work).
The company plans to build a series of new flagship charging stations designed to “elevate the charging experience.”
Lounge, performance space, charging station
They’re a sort of combination gas station and travel lounge. They’ll feature covered canopies like gas stations, keeping cars out of the weather while they charge. Those canopies will hold solar panels capturing energy to help recharge vehicles.
Drivers can rest in lounge spaces while their cars recharge. Those lounges will include “event spaces,” though the company doesn’t say what band you might see while you recharge the Nissan
There’s also no mention of a coffee shop on-site, though EA promises “spatial, behavioral, and emotional layers” to “evoke a dynamic new environment.”
Some locations may offer “valet charging and curbside delivery options.”
Perhaps most important, the chargers themselves will offer up to 350 kilowatts. EVs are designed to accept electricity at a certain rate, so parking at a faster charger won’t necessarily speed up your charging experience. But each generation of EVs seems to accept electricity faster than the one before. So the change will make EA chargers ready for a new generation of faster-charging cars.
The first flagship stations will appear, EA says, in Beverly Hills, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara in California, and in Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York. Openings could come later this year.
The experience of owning an EV is evolving quickly. Each new generation charges faster than the one before. But even the fastest-charging EVs today can take 20 minutes to get to 80%. Spending 20 minutes in a climate-controlled lounge sounds better than spending it in the car in the rain.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.