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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EQS buyers will have access to two years of free charging.

Electrify America

The Mercedes-Benz EQSis set to start hitting dealers' lots in just a few months, and the automaker is working drum up excitement for the all-new EV. Today, Electrify America announced that it will partner with Mercedes to offer charging services to buyers of the upcoming vehicle.

The agreement means that EQS owners will have two years of free charging, which includes 30-minute charging sessions at Electrify America locations. The services go a step further, however, and will include the ability to plug and charge. This means that EQS owners who have activated their Mercedes me Charge accounts can start a free charging session just by plugging the vehicle into the charger. Electrify America says that no authentication or initiation steps will be required.


2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS The EQS is due to hit the market in late 2021.Mercedes-Benz


The agreement between Mercedes-Benz and Electrify America will also extend some services to future EQ battery-electric vehicles, as well as future Mercedes plug-in hybrid vehicles. The company notes that there may be costs to charge for those vehicles, but drivers will still be able to use the Mercedes me app to initiate sessions.

As more automakers jump in the EV game, free charging partnerships are becoming a bigger deal. Just last month, Hyundai announced that buyers of its Ioniq 5 EV will receive two years of free charging from Electrify America, and Ford offered free charging to its Mustang Mach-E customers, also through Electrify America, though The Blue Oval's offer only extended to 250 kilowatt-hours.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS The partnership with Electrify America will provide access to chargers across the country.Mercedes-Benz


The EQS itself is Mercedes' first vehicle in what will become an electric sub-brand for the automaker. It will hit the market as a 2022 model late in 2021, and will be offered in two models. The entry level machine features 329 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, while the up-level EQS 580 4Matic will see 516 horsepower and 611 pound-feet of torque. Beyond its electric powertrain, the EQS will offer several advanced tech features, including a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 17.7-inch touchscreen. Even the passenger gets a display in the new car, as a second 12.3-inch screen will be positioned on the right portion of the dash.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE app The WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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