November 16, 2016

California builds electric-vehicle corridor

Fast charging stations and smartphone app will enable long-distance electric-vehicle travel.

By DC Velocity Staff

Transportation planners have launched a project to build a corridor of electric-vehicle (EV) fast charging stations spanning Northern California, the state said Monday. The corridor will stretch from Monterey to Lake Tahoe, including 50 EV fast chargers to be installed at over 20 locations by March 2017.

The effort is a joint international project promoted by Japan's largest public research and development management organization, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), under agreement with the State of California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, and in partnership with Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan North America, Kanematsu Corp., and EVgo.

The goal of this "DRIVETHEARC" project is to increase the ease of long-distance EV travel along one of California's most important travel arteries while studying EV use and driving patterns through a smartphone app that will provide a user-friendly charging experience, organizers said.

"This network of convenient fast charging stations will make it easier for more consumers to choose fun-to-drive and economical electric cars," California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols said in a release. "NEDO's investment in DRIVETHEARC will make intercity EV travel a breeze, and by putting more zero-emission vehicles onto our roads and highways, will help California meet our clean air and climate targets."

The DRIVETHEARC smartphone app is in development and will provide users with real-time convenience features, such as navigation to charging stations within cruising range, and will help reduce charge waiting times with charger vacancy information. Captured driving stats will be available to users, and Nissan, Kanematsu, EVgo, and NEDO will analyze and measure charger use patterns to better inform future EV charging projects globally. The project to collect and analyze data will be completed in September 2020.

"Nissan is determined to widely spread EV use to help benefit the environment on a global basis," Hitoshi Kawaguchi, chief sustainability officer of Nissan Motor, said in a release. "The U.S. is among the top markets in the world for EV sales, and California represents a staggering 40 percent of all EV sales in the country, making the state the catalyst for furthering the adoption of EVs into the future."

"An adequate public charging network is one of the key factors for EV expansion," Kawaguchi said. "Northern California has a diverse geography but until now did not possess a true inter-city EV fast charging network. We are excited to implement this network and study EV use in Northern California so that we can apply the lessons we learn to future fast charging network projects around the world."

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