Volta Goes DC



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Sunday July 28, 2019 Volta Goes DC Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Volta.  The company provides free charging at places like Malls and similar locations.  To fund the cost their chargers feature advertising which hopefully generates enough income to cover the cost of the charger, installation, and electricity.  Now, Volta is venturing into the world of DC Fast Charging. 


Like their level 2 option the DC fast chargers will be installed at locations similar to those now serviced by their Level 2 network.  The chargers will come in either 50KW or 100KW configurations.  Unlike the level 2 chargers users will be required to use the Volta Ap to activate the station and only the first 30 minutes will be free.  This should give a driver up to 175 miles of range using the 100KW charger.  After the 30 minutes is up the driver will be given the option to stay at the station and pay a fee or to move their car.  Volta estimates that the average driver using their stations exclusively could see savings of as much as $1175 per year.


There are three different charging systems for DC fast chargers and the Volta press release does not say which type of system is going to be supported.  I reached out to Volta and Larissa Bundziak informed me that they are going to support CCS only.  She added, "Volta believes that there should be one open DC fast charging standard and we are building the network that we believe will best meet the needs of the electric vehicle population over a longer time horizon".


Applying a time limit on free charging may help get over the current problem with Volta chargers; charger hogs.  Most companies that have Volta chargers installed have time limits on how long someone can stay at a site but this is rarely enforced.  As a result people often leave their cars parked at the chargers for long periods of time making it harder to find an available charging station.  Charging by the half hour after a free 30 minute charge may be an incentive for people to move their cars.  Unfortunately it might also be an incentive for people to leave the premises.  The Free DC fast charging will probably work well at grocery stores and here in the LA basin many Whole Foods stored provide Volta chargers.  I find that 20 minutes is adequate for grocery shopping so the DC charger may keep people in the store for an extra 10 minutes and that is likely to mean they spend more.   


For Shopping Malls just 30 minute of free charge may mean that customers leave the Mall earlier than they would have and this could actually mean lost revenue for the Mall so I think Volta will need to be selective in where they place these chargers.  The initial locations will be targeted at bringing in affluent EV drivers to local businesses like grocery stores and coffee houses.  Their first DC Fast charger will be up and running in Norwalk, CT later this month after which they will be rolled out in large metropolitan areas like Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC. 


Volta plans on installing about 150 fast charging stations over the next year. 


I like to use Volta chargers and try to support businesses that have these chargers installed.  I've always thought that DC fast chargers would be the best option for grocery store locations so I will be watching closely to see where they are installed once they come to the Los Angeles area.  I hope that Volta continues to have success with their business model.


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