EVgo has announced that it has broken ground on a 350kW electric car charging station in Baker, California. The site will have four high-speed stations, capable of charging up to eight cars at a time. It will sport both CCS and CHAdeMO plugs. Additionally, it will be covered by a solar canopy, mostly to keep cars in the shade, but also to provide a nominal amount of energy to cars and the site’s backup battery. The company expects the Baker charging station to be operational by June 2017.
The EVgo Baker announcement is a potentially huge deal for prospective owners of cars like the Chevy Bolt. While the Bolt is the first electric car with a mass market price and a 200+ mile range, it lacks strategically placed high-speed charging stations. The competing Tesla Supercharger network has intelligently placed stations across the country, making long-distance trips reasonable. The EVgo Baker station makes the drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas possible in a Chevy Bolt and upcoming electric cars that use CCS or CHAdeMO. That said, the infrastructure for those plugs has a long way to go before it can compete with the Tesla Supercharger network.
Let’s use the Los Angeles-Las Vegas route as an example. When the EVgo Baker station is operational, electric car drivers will have two high-speed stations to rely on in the middle of that route (the other is in Victorville, CA). Tesla, on the other hand, has Superchargers in Rancho Cucamonga (CA), Barstow (CA), and Primm (NV). Additionally, Supercharger locations have more stations. Tesla drivers don’t have to be as mindful of their battery charge, since there are three Supercharger locations they can use on the route.
While the Chevy Bolt is a groundbreaking electric car that’s available now, some consumers are happy to wait for the upcoming Tesla Model 3 due to the Supercharger network. Tesla’s first mass market vehicle is expected to have a trickle of deliveries at the very end of 2017, with a more substantive rollout in 2018.
On a mildly related note, EVgo is touting its Baker station as being located by the “World’s Tallest Thermometer.” Nobody that’s driven that route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas thinks of Baker as the home of the world’s tallest thermometer. It’s obviously the home of the excellent Alien Fresh Jerky.
Although Tesla enjoys a tremendous advantage with its Supercharger network, companies like EVgo and ChargePoint are aiming to close the gap. Affordable high-range cars are coming soon, but they need support from charging station companies to succeed as long-distance vehicles. Hopefully the EVgo Baker station is the first of many high-speed stations to come in the near future.