Electric Vehicles

Electrify America adds 30 solar-powered EV charging stations to its network

Electrify America has improved its charging infrastructure with 30 new charging stations.

Photo courtesy of Electrify America

One of the largest obstacles to electric vehicle adoption is charging infrastructure. One of the biggest complaints regarding electric vehicle (EV) charging is where the electricity for those charging stations comes from. Electrify America's freshest round of installations looks to address both of those concerns.

The charging network has introduced 30 solar-powered EV charging stations to its network in the State of California. The locations of the chargers were chosen after the company analyzed communities with the greatest need for charging, existing charging options, and local travel patterns - among other factors.

The off-grid Level 2 (240-volt) chargers are strategically located throughout the Central Valley and inland areas of Southern California in 24 cities. Electrify America identifies more than half the chargers as being in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

electric vehicle charging highway battery meter Late last year, Virginia, Florida and 23 other states joined Electrify America’s kilowatt-hour pricing scheme. Photo by Getty Images

"Electrify America's mission centers around increasing access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure to meet the differing needs of drivers across a diverse set of communities and lifestyles," said Nina Huesgen, senior manager, home and ecommerce at Electrify America. "We believe adding renewable energy to our offerings and expanding access to public charging in rural communities will help continue to spur EV adoption in the state."

The stations' specific locations include educational and health care institutions, as well as public safety departments. They were chosen due to high amounts of traffic and extended hours of access.

Solar power has its limitations, but Electrify America says that its solar-powered chargers are able to operate at night, in inclement weather, and in the event of a blackout or power outage thanks to onboard ARC Technology, which stores energy.

Ten of the stations were deployed in coordination with the Fresno Country Rural Transit Agency. All 30 were sourced from Beam Global, a San Diego-based company.

All of the stations be used free of charge.

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All-new vehicle

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz splits worlds

It's not quite a truck or an SUV, but lands somewhere in the middle.

Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is one of the most unique vehicles to be released in a long time. It's not quite a pickup truck, but it's not quite a crossover or SUV, either. Landing somewhere in between the two segments, the vehicle is shorter than any pickup currently on sale today. Don't let its size fool you, though. The Santa Cruz packs a load of standard features, compelling technology, and a useful bed into its funky shape.

The internet is full of people who'll tell you that small pickups are destined to fail, but let me be clear: There is no reason that small, unibody pickup trucks can't become the norm for most people that think they "need" a truck. They're more maneuverable, cheaper to fuel, and easier on the wallet to buy. I think that's a pretty good reason to at least give them a chance, and after a full day behind the wheel, it's obvious the Hyundai Santa Cruz has enough merit to stand on its own as a useful and even fun vehicle to live with on a daily basis. Hyundai invited us to Santa Cruz, California to drive the new vehicle and see what it's all about, so let's dive in and take a look.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Hyundai's signature LEDs add a futuristic touch to the Santa Cruz' grille.Hyundai


Competent Powertrains and Handling

The Santa Cruz comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Our test cars on the first drive event were equipped with the optional turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, which produces 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The lesser engine comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the turbo powerplant gets an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. In its top configuration, the Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The turbo engine and DCT pairing are a treat, and make the compact Santa Cruz feel lively and fun to drive. On California freeways, passing is effortless, and the transmission readily downshifts to provide more grunt on demand. As people in the Santa Cruz area know, the roads quickly shift from wide-open cruising to twisty mountain highways, and the Hyundai can make that transition with ease. Don't expect to keep pace with a dedicated sports car here, but the Santa Cruz' wide stance and capable suspension system keep the ride both comfortable and interesting.

From the driver's seat, it's easy to forget what you're driving. There's no indication of a pickup bed or anything resembling a pickup truck-like ride. That's thanks to the Santa Cruz' unibody design, which is the same one used in crossovers and in the Honda Ridgeline. Noise, however, is another story. While it's mostly controlled, freeway driving reveals weaknesses in the Hyundai's sound insulation. Rough pavement and grooved road surfaces send more sound into the cabin than expected, but it's far from severe.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz There's more than enough space here for most people, and configurable cargo options make it even more useful.Hyundai


Car-Like Comfort with Truck Utility

Cabin comfort and materials are another area where the Santa Cruz differentiates itself from traditional pickup trucks. Since the vehicle is based on the Tucson SUV, the layout inside is familiar and comfortable. The front seats are wide, deep, and nicely padded, and do a good job of holding the driver in place while flinging the Santa Cruz around mountain roads. Though I didn't have my kids' car seats on hand to test rear seat space, a visual inspection showed that there would be plenty of room for two kids without causing a tug-of-war with front-seat passengers for legroom.

The four-foot bed looks small on paper but is far more useful than you'd think in practice. Hyundai designed the space with under-bed storage, cargo D-ring tie-downs, side-bed storage compartments, and a sliding tonneau cover that is water-resistant. Owners can cut and insert wood pieces to create a sturdy shelf system with the bed's molded slot system, and Hyundai will offer several bed accessories, such as racks and cargo organizers.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The optional 10.25-inch screen lacks wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but looks great.Hyundai


Useful Tech and Safety Features

The top Limited trim with options gets a useful and configurable digital gauge cluster, along with a large 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Hyundai's infotainment software is far from the most colorful or the fanciest on the market, but its straightforward operation makes it less distracting and much less frustrating to use when the vehicle is in motion.

Due to its limited time in existence, the Santa Cruz hasn't been crash-tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety features include lane keep assist, forward collision warnings with pedestrian detection, lane follow assist, and high beam assist. The SEL trim adds blind spot collision-avoidance assist and rear cross-traffic avoidance assist, while a surround-view camera, blind spot camera, and highway driving assist system are available.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an interesting vehicle, and not just because it's unlike anything else on sale right now (that will soon change with the Ford Maverick). It's interesting, because of its infectious attitude, unrelenting utility, and funky style that all work together in a surprisingly cohesive and entertaining way. If I were in the market for a truck, and I always am, the Santa Cruz would be hard to ignore.

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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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