All of our maps showing electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S. are going to need an update. Today, General Motors, Pilot and EVgo announced plans to work together on a nationwide DC fast charging network. The plan calls for 2,000 charging stalls that can deliver up to 350 kW to be installed at up to 500 Pilot and Flying J travel centers in the U.S. The goal is to have DC fast chargers available in 50-mile intervals across the country.
The new charging stations will feature GM's "Ultium Charge 360" branding and "Pilot Flying J" logos but will not be limited to drivers of GM EVs. The plugs will use CCS connectors and be available to anyone. GM EV owners can take advantage of benefits, including the ability to make exclusive reservations, get discounts on charging costs and streamline the charging process with Plug and Charge and in-vehicle apps that can provide real-time charger availability.
The first installation phase will take place in 2023, and "the bulk of the installations" should be completed by 2025, EVgo CEO Kathy Zoi said during a conference call with reporters announcing the plan. "We're gonna get going immediately and commence all of that engineering and planning stuff," she said. "We've got a pretty orderly plan."
Pilot CEO Shameek Konar said the company expects the new EV charging stations to coexist with the current fuel infrastructure.
"An average Pilot Flying J location is about 10 acres," Konar said. "This will be in addition to all of our gas pumps. The way I think about it is, this is a new source of energy that is going to coexist with gas for quite some time. We can debate how long, but we need to serve both groups of customers."
Installing DC fast chargers at hundreds of Pilot's travel centers — aka truck stops — means there should be food, drinks, restrooms, WiFi and even showers available while you wait for an EV to charge. Pilot recently announced its “New Horizons” plan that will invest $1 billion in upgrading Pilot travel centers with more premium amenities, including expanded seating and lounge areas.
While the exact amount of time it will take to charge an EV using these new stations will vary on the EV and its current state of charge, most EVs can refill from a low state of charge to around 80 percent in 20-30 minutes on a fast charger. The new stations are future-proofed to deliver up to 350 kW, a charge rate that few EVs today can handle.
Working with Pilot and Flying J removes a hurdle EVgo and other EV charging station network owners face when expanding in other locations: finding land. That means more space for pull-through charging bays for vehicles with a trailer — a key point now that more electric trucks and SUVs are hitting the market. And GM and EVgo already know that they have a friendly face to work with to get things done.
"One of the strengths of this partnership is the fact that we've got site hosts, and installers and OEMs," said Travis Hester, GM's chief EV officer. "All of us are on board together to help make this network a reality as fast as we possibly can. [By] early 2023, you should see this moving faster than normal progress in other areas where you're negotiating on a site by site basis."
The new DC fast chargers will be installed, operated and maintained by EVgo under its eXtend plan. GM said the partnership with Pilot is the latest in the automaker's nearly $750 million investment in EV charging infrastructure. Other aspects of this plan include the ability of GM EV drivers to access over 100,000 Ultium Charge 360 charge points in the U.S. and Canada. GM and EVgo also have a separate collaboration to build 3,250 charging stalls in major metro areas by 2025. The automaker is also installing up to 40,000 chargers in places where it has dealer communities, with a focus on building up EV infrastructure in underserved rural and urban areas.