I've tested a large handful of EVs now and if we're talking about the cars themselves, they're great. They're quiet and, usually, quite quick. Juicing them back up at a public charger, however, is an experience that's been underwhelming at best. Chargers are typically out in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do, not very well lit, use hardware that very much feels like it was the first iteration of something, and are often just not very nice places to be.
Electrify America, evidently, knows this and is planning to massively improve the electric car charging experience by appearing to model its new flagship charging stations after something we already know and are comfortable with: gas stations. The new locations are said to be designed aesthetically with its surrounding communities in mind and have been described with words like "customer oasis."
Housing up to 20 DC fast chargers, the new EA stations will feature solar canopies that do double duty in helping provide electricity for the cars and covering customers from the elements, a lot like how most gas stations have roofs. In addition to being part of these new fancy stations right out of the gate, Electrify America says it's also retrofitting similar awnings to 100 existing stations across the U.S., covering 400-500 individual chargers. Underneath these overhead covers are also plenty of lighting and security cameras, curbing safety concerns The Drive's own deputy editor Kristen Lee once wrote about in length.
Further making these stations a nice place to hang out is the presence of lounges and possibly even EV showcase areas. Ones located at shopping centers may even feature valet charging and curbside delivery services.
In addition to poshing up the amenities surrounding it all, the actual charging experience itself is being enhanced as well. Capable of charging at up to 150 and 350 kW, the chargers themselves will sport a smaller physical footprint (which allows for the installation of more of 'em in tight, urban locations) and a new, cleaner design.
The screen is now recessed and brighter to combat glare from the sun—a rarely mentioned pain point about EV charging that nobody thinks about until you're standing at a station in the blazing mid-afternoon with your hand cupped over the screen trying to see what's going on. A new cable management system apparently makes it easier to plug in regardless of where your EV's charge port is located—another small gripe nobody seems to talk about until you're hopping in and out of your Kia EV6 three times to reposition because the stupid cable isn't long or flexible enough connect unless the car is perfectly placed. (Ask me how I know.)
As somebody who staunchly believes that the public charging infrastructure is, far and away, the least appealing part of owning a non-Tesla EV, it all looks and sounds very enticing. However, like all big and new things, it'll be coming to the two coastal U.S. regions first. Electrify America's new flagship charging stations will be installed throughout 2022 and 2023 exclusively in California and New York, with the company specifically namechecking Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Diego, Beverly Hills, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Existing flagship locations can be found in Baker and Santa Clara, California.
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