October 14th, 2019 by Steve Hanley on Clean Technica
When it comes to charging your electric car, you can choose one of the thousands of free Level One AC chargers all across America or you can hook up with any of the commercial networks like Charge Point, EVGo, or Blink that offer Level 3 DC fast chargers and pay the going rate.
Level One chargers may be free, but you may need to wait long enough to build a scale model of the Statue of Liberty out of toothpicks before your battery has enough charge to drive another 100 miles or so down the road. Rates for using Level 3 fast chargers vary according to location and which company is providing the service, but most will give you enough additional range in 30 minutes or less to be far away before you need to charge again. Using a fast charger may not be cheap, but your time is worth something, so unless you want to take a walking tour of downtown Ypsilanti while your EV is charging, the convenience may be worth it.
Image credit: Volta Charging
Now Volta, a charging network based in San Francisco, says it will offer free fast charging to everyone. It will begin by installing 150 of its attractively styled Level 3 chargers along major transportation routes. The first of the new chargers will be along the Route 95 corridor in Norwalk, Connecticut. The company expects to complete the installation of those 150 chargers during the coming year. The company plans to expand its free charging network in coming years.
In an e-mail to CleanTechnica, the company says its new chargers take a “dramatic new visual direction…[a]completely reimagined charging station to go with its revolutionary business model. The design embodies a decade of experience in building charging infrastructure that is economically viable, free to drivers and optimized for the rapidly growing electric vehicle community.
Credit: Volta Charging https://voltacharging.com/
“The station cuts a slim airfoil-like silhouette with design focused on both the experience of the user and the impact to the community. Throughout the charging process, the station communicates real-time status using emotive and intuitive external lighting. A Volta signature, the station incorporates high-resolution 55-inch displays to showcase content from sponsoring partners as well as community-oriented messages.”
Those 55-inch screens are the key to Volta’s business plan. It intends to derive most of its income from advertisers and merchants who want to attract electric car owners to their establishments. According to CNET Road Show, the free charging is limited to the first 30 minutes. After that, drivers can choose to pay for additional charging or motor on down the road to the next Volta location. Most Volta stations have a maximum of 100 kW of charging power but some are limited to 50 kW.
“We are playing a central role in accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles,” says Scott Mercer, founder and CEO of Volta. “For adoption to grow, the available infrastructure must intelligently evolve to meet increased demand. Our chargers experience three times more usage compared to other charging networks, and the economics of our network are by far the best. This new station is a powerful tool in our mission to vanquish the fossil fuel industry.”
Volta selects where to install charging stations using data modeling to map current demand and predict future growth. With stations in nine of the nation’s top twenty electric vehicle markets, regional networks are thoughtfully expanded to lead local electric vehicle market penetration. Similarly, Volta matches stations’ charging speeds to the anticipated onsite customer experience.