Driving an electric vehicle in the Southwest can be an adventure of unwanted proportions….at least in terms of time spent. For everybody but Tesla owners, rapid charging stations are currently only available in a few cities. Outside of Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and some parts of California, it’s tough to go anywhere without spending hours charging at low speeds in the desert. Fortunately, that’s about to change!
The big player is going to be Electrify America. As punishment for cheating on diesel emissions testing, the U.S. government required that Volkswagen put billions of dollars into building more charging stations nationwide. To do this, they set up a new company just for the task.
The New Map
Recently, Electrify America released a preliminary map of places where they intend to put stations this year and the first part of 2019. All locations will support current EVs that add 100-180 miles of range per hour of charging, but will also support future EVs that can charge as fast as 20 miles per minute. While you couldn’t zoom in, Jeremy Akers (a commenter at Electrek) gathered the location data together into another map we could zoom in on.
Be warned, though, that the question marks on the map are not the final location. Electrify America intends to build the station within about 10 miles of each point on the map. Either way, it does help us learn what cities along major routes are going to get a new station 🙂
How This Helps The Southwest (And Doesn’t)
If you zoom in on the Southwest, it becomes pretty clear that Electrify America was trying to make it easier for EVs to travel on several corridors from coast to coast. Luckily for us in the southwest, two of their chosen corridors pass through our part of the country and one passes just to the north of us.
The place that will probably feel the biggest positive impact will be west Texas and southwest New Mexico. El Paso, Las Cruces, Deming and Lordsburg are going to get rapid charging stations where none have previously been available for hundreds of miles. It’s going to become far, far easier to consider purchasing an electric vehicle, even for local travel.
In other cities that already have rapid charging, the main benefit will be for road trips. EV owners will be able to travel outside of their home metro areas on electric power without spending up to 8 hours charging at remote locations and RV parks just to drive another couple of hours. Travel to most of the continental United States in reasonable time frames will be opened up.
While this is a game changer, it’s still only the beginning of the game. A closer look at the map shows that we still have a ways to go to put electric vehicles fully on par with gas and diesel burners.
The biggest problem is that rural routes and smaller cities are not included in this buildout. EV drivers are going to have to largely stick to the major interstates to travel. This leaves a lot to be desired, especially for Arizona and New Mexico tourism. Some of the best that the Southwest has to offer will be left out of easy reach, at least for now.
Some of the biggest omissions that will need to be addressed include:
- A route from Phoenix to Las Vegas (the future I-11 corridor)
- The I-25 corridor from Las Cruces, NM to Albuquerque, NM. This leaves the two largest cities in New Mexico disconnected.
- The Grand Canyon
- The entire Four Corners area
- The Mogollon Rim, White Mountains and the Gila
- All of southeast New Mexico
While Electrify America has made it clear that they have further station building planned for the future, we need to also look at other ways to get these gaps filled for future tourism and EV adoption. We definitely have our work cut out for us!