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Save Money. Live Better. Charge Your EV: Walmart Fast Chargers Coming

2017 Tesla Model S

A project to bridge gaps in America's electric-vehicle charging network might also bridge the cultural divide by letting owners of $100,000 Teslas rub elbows with Americans shopping for $8 jeans. Volkswagen's Electrify America project will electrify Walmart with EV chargers at more than 100 of the discount-retail giant's parking lots in 34 states, the companies announced.

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The Walmart chargers are part of Electrify America's first phase of what will ultimately be 484 fast-charging stations with more than 2,000 chargers in 39 states in 2019. The overall $2 billion, 10-year effort is part of Volkswagen's settlement with the EPA and California in its diesel emissions scandal. Electrify says that its "stations will be located at convenient EV charging stops with access to retail, dining, parking and other facilities" — all boxes checked by a Walmart store.

But before we make too many jokes about Tesla owners being unable to find a decent latte while they juice up their rides, we should note that Walmart already is in this business as part of a larger effort underway to cut carbon use. The new chargers will double to more than 1,000 the number of chargers already available at Walmart and Sam's Club stores, according to the retailer. Like a lot of Walmarts, most of the charging stations will be along major highways.

Electrify says the fast chargers for highway locations will include the first use of special cooled-cable 150- to 350-kilowatt DC chargers that can deliver 20 miles of range per minute for EVs that can handle such chargers. A typical fast charger now is 50 kW, but Electrify says most EVs from 2020 on should be able to use fast chargers of at least 150 kW.

City locations will offer DC fast charging from 50 to 150 kW, as well as have the more common Level 2 AC chargers needed by plug-in hybrids and many current EVs. The charger operation is controlled via a touchscreen, buttons or the Electrify America phone app and, like a gas pump, chargers will have a credit card slot.

As part of Electrify's deal[MS8], its stations will have multiple connectors to accommodate any maker's EV with fast-charging capability. The highway chargers will be on major intercity corridors, as well as two cross-country routes, Interstate 10 and Interstate 80.

Cities due for its chargers include:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Fresno, Calif.
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Sacramento, Calif.
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose, Calif.
  • Seattle
  • Washington, D.C.

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