Drivers of all types of electric cars will be able to use Volkswagen Group’s emerging network of charging stations at sites across Canada
The 32 “first phase” locations have been chosen. Now, gradually, the unveiling begins.
That was the word from Robert Barrosa, chief operating officer of Electrify Canada, speaking at the Volkswagen Group subsidiary’s “first charge event” held last week at Toronto Premium Outlets shopping centre in Halton Hills — site of the first electric vehicle charging station in Electrify Canada’s planned 32-station network.
Replying to a question from Electric Autonomy Canada, Barrosa confirmed all the network station locations — in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. — have been selected and that construction at several is underway.
“You’ll be hearing more news from us [in] the coming months,” he says.
Securing the sites
The company won’t disclose other specific locations “until we secure the site[s], secure all the permits and make sure the utility can support our needs,” says Barrosa, adding that all 32 stations will be operating by the end of next year.
“After that, we’ll continue to expand mainly on routes [highways] and other locations that we see fit.”
The stations boast the first certified liquid-cooled cable DC 150 and 350-kilowatt fast chargers deployed in Canada. According to Barrosa, every station in the network will have a minimum of four chargers, with room to grow.
“Once the demand rises and we need to expand, we’re ready to do that.”
VW’s all-electric pivot
Joining Barrosa at last week’s event were the heads of Volkswagen Group Canada, Porsche Canada and Audi Canada.
Lorie-Ann Roxburgh, Volkswagen Canada’s acting president and CEO, stressed her excitement about her company’s strategic pivot towards an all-electric future model lineup.
“I’ve been with Volkswagen Group Canada for many years and I have to say we’re on the cusp of the most fundamental change in the industry,” she says. “These charging stations will be for our vehicles but also all other manufacturers. That’s our commitment to really driving the importance of emissions-free mobility.”
The launch comes as Electrify America, the network’s U.S. predecessor, approaches its 300-station milestone.
While the U.S. network’s creation was a product of the company’s diesel emission’s scandal settlement, Roxburgh says creating the Canadian network was purely a strategic decision to help build out the charging infrastructure needed to support EV sales.
Users of the two networks will find they have much in common, says Barrosa.
“We’re leveraging a lot of the technology as well as the systems and the processes that were put in place in America,” he says. “The branding is sort of similar, the HMI [human-machine interface] is very similar, the experience is exactly the same.
“We’ve taken it and sort of Canadian-ized it.”
The similarities extend to the service’s mobile app, which it also launched last week. It displays station locations, charger availability and the power levels at which they’re available. Drivers can also use the app to initiate and pay for their charge.
According to a representative from Toronto Premium Outlets, the company was first approached by Electrify Canada regarding the charging station about a year ago.
Barrosa says the actual process of obtaining permits and working out plans with the local electricity utility took between four and six months.
“The majority of the work was really working with Halton Hills Hydro to understand where the power was going to come from and how we were going to secure the power,” he says.
I also attended this event and was pleased in what I heard and saw. The ramp up for EC is strong and aggressive and needed, especially with the influx in PHEV/BEVs after the launch of the Federal Incentive Program.
Good technology and a good app will make the experience hopefully user friendly and pleasant. My thanks for the folks at TPO, EC and VW Group for a good launch event and best of success!
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