Lack of charging stations remains one of the biggest obstacles to widespread adoption of electric cars, but two companies are planning to spend $1 billion to help address that shortage. Charging station operator ChargePoint and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) plan to add charging stations at 4,000 sites in the U.S. While most charging infrastructure initiatives focus on heavily traveled corridors between major cities, ChargePoint and NATSO plan to focus on rural areas.
The agreement between ChargePoint and NATSO calls for charging stations to be installed at the 4,000 sites by 2030. At this point, the companies have only gone as far as signing a memorandum of understanding, so no actual work has started yet.
ChargePoint and NATSO did not provide much information on where the charging stations would be located. A press release said stations would be placed along highways primarily in rural areas, and that the network of new stations would connect with Federal Highway Administration-designated FAST Act corridors. These are stretches of highway targeted for construction of not only charging stations, but also infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas vehicles. The exact number and location of these corridors is undetermined, as stretches of road must be nominated by state and local officials and then approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, a process that’s still ongoing.
Bringing charging stations to rural America could help spur interest in electric cars in parts of the country automakers tend to ignore. Sales of electric cars tend to be concentrated on the coasts, where charging infrastructure is much more robust. While some efforts have been made to increase charging infrastructure elsewhere — such as installing stations along a stretch of the legendary Route 66 — infrastructure efforts tend to focus on areas where automakers anticipate electric cars will sell well.
Charging stations won’t completely solve that problem; more dealerships still need to stock and enthusiastically sell electric cars as well. But more charging stations could give drivers confidence to take longer trips. Meanwhile, ChargePoint gets to expand its network, and NATSO gets a captive audience to sell soda and snacks to while they wait for their cars to charge.
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