Electric Vehicles

Electric Highway Coalition building EV charging network from West Texas to the Gulf

A new level of cooperation between power companies could help string together a more viable electric vehicle charging network.

Photo by kristinapong detraphiphat/Getty Images

Chargepoint, Electrify America, and EVgo are America's biggest charging networks and each has varying success stories with installation. Even in 2021, none have prolific enough station spread to bridge the gap between stations to make electric vehicle owners as confident owners as owners of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles while on the go.

This week, six major utility companies together have announced a plan that would seamlessly connect a network of DC fast chargers to major highway systems from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest and South, and to the Gulf of Mexico and Central Plains.

The Electric Highway Coalition is made up of American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy Corporation, Southern Co., and the Tennessee Valley Authority energy companies. They will each take the necessary steps to provide EV charging solutions within their own service territories giving EV drivers the ability to venture across their territory without service interruptions.

This is an effort that some power companies have already undertaken on their own, but with limited success. Georgia Power, the largest Southern Company subsidiary, has installed fast chargers across the Atlanta metro area.

Each utility company will select its own building sites and build its own charging stations. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that it can cost upward of $50,000 to install a single DF fast charger.

Electrify America has been on a tear, making numerous new charging station announcements over the last year. In August they announced a partnership with Love's Travel Stops to install chargers at their locations. A month before that the company completed its second cross-country EV charger route. In February 2021 Electrify America debuted new solar charging stations in California and recently they began selling home chargers via Amazon.

In September, the Edison Electric Institute forecasted that there will be 18 million EVs on US roads in 2030. A number of automakers, including Jaguar and Volvo, have made announcements saying that their lineups are headed into fully-electric territory. Other, like GM and Land Rover, have committed to offering electric vehicles alongside ICE cars and trucks.

"Throughout the ages, travelers have had to figure out how to get from point A to B. From feeding and watering horses, to filling gas tanks, and now recharging batteries, ensuring that there are convenient places to accomplish these tasks is critical," said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "With this effort, we are working to help drivers see that EVs fit their lifestyle and their travel plans, wherever the road might take them."

Questions remain surrounding the strength and capability of the U.S. power grid and what impact adding millions of vehicles to the grid will have. Hurricane-prone areas of the country, like Florida, Texas, and Louisiana are often without power for weeks during the worst weather, meaning that residents of those areas would not be able to move around town due to lack of charging capability. Similarly, ice and snow storms can have devastating effects on power, as can long, hot summers and cold winters.

New to electric charging? Nissan has an etiquette guide that might help.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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