Uinta County Herald | VW scandal lands charging station at local grocer
EVANSTON — The local Smith’s Food & Drug grocery store will soon be the site of an Electrify America charging station for super electric vehicles. Construction work is ongoing and the station is expected to be completed within 30 days.
Shane Pace, Smith’s store manager, told the Herald: “It was brought to my attention about six months ago that we were going to be a location for the Volkswagen superchargers. When they are finished we will have four Superchargers occupying eight parking spaces at the bottom of our property.”
Electrify America is a DC fast charging station network for electric vehicles in the USA with more than 700 charging stations and over 2,200 individual charging units (as of November 2020). It is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group of America, which was founded by the automaker in late 2016 as part of emissions offsetting in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen of using “defeat devices” in its diesel-powered vehicles to hide from regulators that the vehicles exceed emissions standards. The scandal eventually led to billions in fines and vehicle buyback agreements, among other things.
As part of a consent decree reached with US officials in 2016, Volkswagen agreed to numerous measures totaling $2 billion to encourage the use of electric vehicles over a 10-year period to atone for additional air pollution, that caused it. One aspect of the program was the commitment to build a public charging network for electric vehicles.
According to their website, Electrify America stations are often located in parking lots and garages of major department stores and malls. The company has multi-site agreements with many companies including Walmart, Target and Smith’s. The company currently has agreements with various manufacturers for their electric vehicles to use its network of chargers or to offer discounted charging rates or free charging, including Volkswagen, Audi, Harley Davidson and Lucid Motors (Tesla is not on the list). The Rivian R1T, the first electric pickup to reach production (in September 2021), is compatible with standard Electrify America stations.
Beginning in 2020, Electrify America will bill for its electricity based on output, billed by the kilowatt-hour, in most states in which it operates. In some states, users are charged for the time their vehicle is connected. This is usually because the state only allows electric utilities to charge for the amount of electricity a customer uses.
Drivers can find stations through Electrify America’s website, smartphone applications, or through networks like PlugShare. You can pay for electricity via the phone apps or with a credit card at the charging stations. The Electrify America mobile app allows users to pay through their phone and receive discounted rates with an Electrify America Pass Plus subscription.
“I think they chose our Smith’s because we’re on a major freeway,” Pace said. “I think it will bring drivers to Evanston and while their vehicles are being charged they can shop. I think it will benefit Evanston’s economy. The super chargers can charge a battery to 80% in 20 minutes. I test drove the Tesla myself and think it’s fantastic.”