Electric car startup Lucid Motors has inked a deal to supply its upcoming luxury EVs with fast charging across the US, turning to Electrify America for its new charger network. The automaker expects to put its first model, the Lucid Air, into production in 2020. The four-door Mercedes and Audi rival is expected to offer up to 400 miles of range, depending on drivetrain.
Without ready charger access, though, it’s hard to make a convincing electric argument. Rather than build its own charging infrastructure, as Tesla did with its Superchargers, Lucid is looking to a third-party provider.
Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, and is part of the automotive behemoth’s apology for the “dieselgate” emissions testing saga. It plans to invest $2 billion over a period of ten years into electric car infrastructure across the US. Right now, locations are fairly minimal – at time of writing, for example, Electrify America doesn’t have a single charger in California, the state where EVs are most popular – but its roadmap is aggressive.
By the end of June 2019, for instance, Electrify America plans to have – or be constructing – over 2,000 chargers, spread across nearly 500 sites. It’s targeting both metro and highway locations, in 40 states and 17 major cities. The idea is that chargers will be located on average 70 miles apart on the highway – though none will be more than 120 miles apart – for cross-country driving.
They won’t be slow, either. Electrify America is promising up to 350 kW charging rates using the DC ultra-fast charging standard; that could potentially add 20 miles of range for every minute the car is connected. However, it also depends on what power level the vehicle itself supports: the 2019 Audi e-tron announced earlier this month, for example, tops out at 150 kW, though Lucid Motors has previously suggested the Air will handle 350 kW supplies.
It’s unclear at this stage what, exactly, the deal between Lucid and Electrify America consists of. The latter’s chargers will be accessible by most EV owners, including those driving Tesla’s cars. It offers a pay-as-you-use system, charging a $1 per session fee and then between $0.30 and $0.35 per minute connected, location depending.
One possibility is that Lucid Air buyers will get some amount of free charging through Electrify America locations, bundled into the purchase price of their car. Audi, for example, is including 1,000 kWh of charging with each e-tron SUV bought. That works out to more than 2,000 miles of driving, the automaker suggests.