Breaking the EV Bubble with Volta

By | Uncategorized

If you live in California, electric vehicles are a part of everyday life, so much so that you might forget the same isn’t true everywhere. It’s common knowledge that California leads the way for electric drivers, but statistics show that the difference is staggering. Approximately 367,000 electric vehicles were newly registered in the United States in 2018, and nearly half (49 percent) were registered in California, according to data from the Alternative Fuels Data Center. That’s 179,600 new electric vehicles registered in one year, and the numbers since then are only growing. After California, Washington ranked second, registering 19,900 electric vehicles in 2018– about 5.4 percent of the national total. Washington could have registered nine times as many electric vehicles and still wouldn’t have caught California.

This market domination occurs across the board, not just for registrations. In regard to sales, data from EVAdoption shows that 153,422 electric vehicles were sold in California in 2018; New York came in second with fewer than 16,000. Charging infrastructure is more prevalent in California as well– there are over 26,000 public charging outlets in the state. New York comes in second here as well, with fewer than five thousand public charging outlets.

That’s a lot of numbers, and they clearly show that the electric vehicle bubble in California is real. They might also make you think that the bubble is unbreakable, but it is well documented that this expansion is happening nationwide. Data from the International Energy Agency shows there were 180,000 electric vehicles on the road in 2013, compared to 1.12 million in 2018. While California is a substantial part of that growth, drivers around the country are beginning to recognize electric vehicles as a feasible alternative to gas-powered vehicles. This shift could have a positive impact on our environment, especially if other states around the country begin shifting more aggressively toward electric.

But how can we move closer to that point? One of the challenges electric drivers outside the California bubble face is a lack of options for public charging. Data from the International Energy Agency shows that while 1.6 million electric vehicle charging outlets were installed in 2018, more than 90 percent of them were for private use. Range anxiety is a common concern for potential buyers, and it’s understandable– no one wants to run out of power and end up stranded. That’s why building an expansive network of public charging stations is crucial for the growth of the electric vehicle industry, and Volta is helping to do just that.

One Volta user, Alex, tells us about how he utilizes the free, public charging service from Volta to fuel family visits. “I have family up in Sacramento, which is about 90 miles from where I live, also well within the range of my vehicle. I know of Volta charging locations up at Arden Fair, a shopping center there. So I always plan my visit around a visit to the shopping center so I can re-up on charge for the journey home.”

Volta’s charging network already spans the United States, with stations from Boston to Hawaii and many cities in between. We cover major metropolitan hubs like Chicago, our second-largest market with 176 stations. Volta also has a presence in smaller towns like Waterbury, Connecticut, allowing electric drivers to expand their travel possibilities. And we’re not done yet; Volta has plans to double our presence in Washington D.C., and our expansion into Atlanta yielded 54 active stations with more on the way. Improved public charging infrastructure is an important piece of the electric vehicle puzzle, and Volta is helping to solve it. It may take time to break the bubble and make electric vehicles a staple nationwide, but we’re already well on the way.

Blue skies of lockdown show potential for a pollution-free, electric future

By | Uncategorized

Images of clear skies and thriving ecosystems have filled social media in response to recent transportation slowdowns, an unexpected benefit of the lockdown that has impacted so many. Cities like Los Angeles or New Delhi have seen their skies clouded by pollution for many years, until recently. The clearer skies have both residents and scientists wondering what it would take to make this brief respite from pollution permanent. A switch to the renewable energy of electric vehicles has the potential to do just that.

The reduction of pollution can be demonstrated beyond just the images we have seen on Twitter or Facebook. A decrease in traffic has led to lower levels of pollution, especially in metropolitan areas. Manhattan reported a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide and methane emissions, as well as a dramatic 50 percent decrease in carbon monoxide. In China, NASA detected that nitrogen dioxide— a noxious gas emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities— decreased as much as 30 percent during their recent lockdown.

As such, the blue skies that city-dwellers are currently witnessing should be seen not as a silver lining, but as a wake-up call. Economies around the world have begun to re-open, and if everyone returns to their fuel-burning vehicles and normal routines, our skies will regress back to the gray, polluted shades of life before lockdown. There is hope for a future with bluer skies, though.

Expanding electric vehicle usage and charging networks is just one renewable solution with the potential to permanently reduce air pollution. “We have to recognize that in this crisis there is an opportunity for learning,” said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols.

At Volta, these clear blue skies are a reminder of our mission, as well as inspiration to continue working to inspire change by providing seamless, simple and free charging experiences. To date, Volta has offset almost 30 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions by powering over 67 million free electric miles. In the past week alone, our nationwide network has had the equivalent environmental impact of planting a new tree every eight minutes.

Volta has spent the last ten years building a system that will help bring about blue skies for good. Our innovative charging infrastructure provides drivers with the power they need and inspires others to join the electric vehicle revolution. As Volta continues to add more stations at more locations where people spend their time, we are ready — for the one million electric vehicles on the road today, and for the 20 million to come in the next ten years.

Driving Community Efforts to Stay Charged Up and Healthy During COVID-19

By | Uncategorized, Volta News

Now, more than ever, we remain committed to keeping our communities charged up. Our goal is not just to continue to provide free electric miles, but to do our part in flattening the curve. We’d also like to recognize the efforts of the Volta community.

To the locations able to keep their Volta charging stations active.  We thank you. 80% of our chargers are near essential services, including pharmacies, grocery stores and hospitals.

To the drivers who rely on Volta to get to and from essential duties, we truly appreciate your hard work and sacrifice. 

Here’s a bit more on how we’re addressing COVID-19:

  • We’re partnering with municipalities, health officials and first responders to broadcast Public Safety Alerts to ensure communities see critical news and updates.
  • We launched messages from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) across our nationwide network.
  • We’re increasing station monitoring and continue to quickly address any issues that might impede reliable charging.
  • Where possible, we’re working with our partners to extend chargers’ hours of operation to help those who may have been cut off from their other typical charging locations. 
  • We’re actively updating our app as quickly as possible to reflect charger accessibility changes.

If you have questions, please reach out to info@voltacharging.com. Those of us who are not in the field actively maintaining our network are working remotely and available to help. So, if you hear a dog barking or kids laughing when we call, think of this as an opportunity for us all to get to know each other a little better and a reminder that we really are all in this together.

In This Together: Leading in a Fast-Paced, Evolving Time

By | Volta News

Talking with Jon Michaels, Senior Vice President of Operations at Volta, can make you feel like you are preparing for battle. That’s because he’s been there. Jon finds many parallels between his 10 years as a Marine Corps helicopter pilot and leading his team at Volta, a fast-moving start-up headquartered in San Francisco.  

As we contend with Covid-19’s impact on our lives and businesses, Jon has turned to some key strategies learned in the air to help his team navigate these uncertain times.  His military experience has prepared him for how to pivot and problem-solve, ensuring that Volta chargers stay operational and ready for drivers.

Jon joined Volta in the fall of 2016, drawn to its mission and people. A purpose-driven company with a multifaceted team, Volta brings together people with vastly different experiences, perspectives and expertise. Different, yet unified behind a common mission to build an electric vehicle charging network that inspires change and drives the world forward. 

Early on, Jon led the company in clarifying its mission and the core values. “At Volta we are a collection of our stories . . . the stories of what we have each brought to Volta, and the stories we are building together.” Every new employee is encouraged to read through the Volta Values and bring their passions to work each day. Even though the company has quadrupled in size since this founding document was created, “We will always be smaller than our ambition.”

Jon’s department is responsible for working closely with Volta’s charging partners from coast to coast to install and maintain our stations. Besides building the nation’s most intensively used electric vehicle charging infrastructure, Volta is also a media company revolutionizing and delivering out of home advertising where people charge and spend their time. According to Jon, both of these are rapidly changing spaces, and Volta is where they come together seamlessly.

“Something new is always happening every single day at Volta, multiple times per day,” said Jon. “Having a vision for the future is about building the right team, a team that can adapt quickly to changing conditions.” And now with Volta’s shift to mostly working remotely, it’s essential to stay people-focused. Jon is spending more time than ever reaching out and supporting team members in their individual situations, helping answer their questions and provide guidance and context. In a time when we hear the terms “essential personnel” and “non-essential personnel” being used more often, it’s important to communicate that everyone is essential and to stay focused on the mission together.

It may feel like much of the country is grounded as we wait for life to go back to normal, but at Volta, we press on. Or as Jon would say, we continue to “aviate, navigate and communicate.” We remain committed to delivering essential charging infrastructure to our drivers and meaningful messages in our communities that bring us together.

From the Model T to Model 3: Shifting Perceptions in Transportation Innovation

By | Automotive

Those considering purchasing a Model T at the turn of the century had to contend with a lack of paved roads, limited availability of gas and a hefty price tag. Despite these hurdles, cars replaced horses in a surprisingly quick timeframe—about 10 to 15 years. 

Drivers considering going electric today have fewer impediments. Yet according to a recent AAA study, 91% of those considering buying an electric car say they have at least one lingering concern. Getting stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery was at the top of the list. But what are the chances of that actually happening? 

The term “range anxiety” was first used by the press in 1997 while referring to feedback from drivers of General Motors EV1 electric car. Keep in mind that the model initially provided a range of 60 miles per charge. While they overwhelmingly loved their cars, EV1 drivers became worried as they reached the limits of the car’s driving range.

Although eventually scrapped, the EV1 program helped inspire today’s proliferation of electric vehicles that have a range of up to 370 miles. Elon Musk even claimed it as the inspiration for starting Tesla. Drivers have many models to choose from in 2020, from nearly every car manufacturer, and there is a variety of charging options outside of the home.

This is where Volta comes in. For a decade now we have been building out a nationwide charging network where drivers want to spend their time. Volta gives drivers the opportunity to charge where they shop and hang out—even while they catch a movie or the big game. The expansion of infrastructure and improved battery range helps to explain the AAA study, which revealed that while drivers still had worries before purchasing an electric vehicle, they melted away once behind the wheel. Another factor is that most households drive an average of 30 to 40 miles per day, which fits well with the current state of driving electric. The survey was conducted at the end of 2019 and included 1,090 plug-in electric vehicle drivers, most were first time owners.

Other results from the AAA survey showed overall satisfaction with electric vehicle capabilities and driving experience:

  • 96% said they would buy or lease another electric vehicle the next time they were in the market for a new car.
  • 43% of electric vehicle owners said they drive more now than when they owned a gas-powered car.
  • 78% indicated that they also had a gas-powered car in the household, but reported doing most of their driving (87%) in their electric vehicle.

We are in the midst of a massive shift in transportation and in the perception of electric vehicles. Volta is at the forefront by using data-driven modeling to predict when, where and how charging needs are evolving across the country. While driving electric still involves a spirit of adventure and innovation—the leap of faith is paying off for drivers—just as it did over 100 years ago when the first adopters of the Model T set off onto streets crowded with horse-drawn carriages.

How Electric Carmakers Make Billions from Fuel-Burning Competitors

By | Automotive

Sometimes it pays to be ahead of the curve.

While electric vehicles were once burdened by range anxiety and skimpy charger infrastructure, they’ve since ridden a wave of dramatic growth and mainstream acceptance. In fact, electric vehicle carmakers are enjoying the last laugh in more ways than one.

Why are the naysayers being proved wrong in spades? It’s not just that battery power has gone from zero to hero in the public eye. Electric vehicle carmakers are enjoying an unexpected windfall thanks to their future-forward ways because U.S. and European regulators have developed laws requiring carmakers to meet CO2 standards or face fines. Subsequently, manufacturers have relied on purchasing carbon credits from other carmakers if their fuel-burning fleets don’t meet the minimums.

Electric car offerings mean some manufacturers are way ahead in the carbon dioxide game, which doesn’t reflect too kindly on more internal combustion-focused carmakers. Brands like Fiat Chrysler, for instance, contributed more than $100 million to Tesla’s bottom line in 2018 because they didn’t attract enough buyers to their electric lineup. Similarly, Tesla has racked up more than $1.7 billion in carbon credits since 2012. In 2017 alone, electric vehicle-minded Toyota and Honda snagged nearly $110 million for the battery-powered cars in their portfolio—proof that progress, despite bumpy beginnings, can go richly rewarded.

Free Electric Miles Win Customers

By | Volta News

Assumptions are easily made about electric vehicle driving when you hear squeaky-wheel anecdotes in passing. Thanks to an international survey co-authored with CleanTechnica, we now have substantial data from the community of electric vehicle drivers. Survey respondents are mostly CleanTechnica followers who have an avid interest in cleantech news, reviews and analysis. Results give a rare glimpse into the front line of the electric vehicle revolution. 

Devoted Drivers

Of the nearly 5,000 surveyed in North America alone, 84% currently own an electric vehicle and 4.4% are looking to purchase one soon. Environmental benefits (76%), low maintenance (64%) and financial savings (56%) are the three primary reasons for purchasing. Fifty-six percent bought their electric vehicle as a replacement to an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle and 86% drive their electric vehicle “almost every day.” Drivers surveyed aren’t looking back. 82% reported they are loyal and will choose an electric vehicle again. 

Confidence to Drive Farther

Electric vehicle drivers are tech-savvy and proactive about charging their vehicles to avoid range anxiety—68% report using an app to find charging stations and 61% say stations are easy to find. Discovering convenient charging locations is also habit-forming with 43% visiting the same places again and again. Accessibility and reliability don’t seem to be a major concern when it comes to finding charging on the road. In fact, a surprising 15% of respondents have no charging at home, so they are free-range electric vehicle drivers thanks to an ever-growing charging infrastructure. Almost 80% reported that the stations they use are usually or always open and 88% said they are functioning properly most of the time. 

Free Miles Fuel Customer Loyalty

The majority of respondents believe electric vehicle charging should be a free amenity. To access free charging, 81% are willing to check-in using a mobile app, and 68% are willing to provide basic personal info including name, demographic and general location. Brick-and-mortar sites offering electric vehicle charging as a free amenity will find it impactful to their bottom line:

  • 77% stated they are willing to try out a new shopping center that provides free charging, while 38% state they would visit more often and buy more.
  • 66% said they would visit more often and 48% would likely shop longer if free electric vehicle charging was available.
  • Less than 2% state they would sit in their car while charging
Win-Win Revolution

Survey results confirm that most early adopters are confident in their decision to go electric and find it fits seamlessly into their lives. Free charging is an amenity that is valued by electric vehicle owners, driving traffic to retailers and lifting sales. The data is overwhelmingly clear that the electric vehicle movement benefits forward-thinking drivers and businesses alike.

Learn more about adding charging to venues.

 

The Year of the Electric Car

By | Automotive

World Copyright:
Mike Dodd / Beadyeye
Patrick Gosling / Beadyeye

There are over a million electric vehicles on U.S. roads, but 2020 is the year electric vehicles finally graduate from mere alternatives to internal combustion to a true force to be reckoned with.

Thanks to a tidal wave of new models from manufacturers, drivers will have an unprecedented array of options at their fingertips in the coming year: 40 models were available in 2019, and some 14 more options are expected to join the fray in 2020, stateside. Europeans will see the number leap from under 100 to 175.

Buzzworthy sleds like Porsche’s Taycan and Tesla’s long-awaited Model Y are right around the corner, Polestar is finally coming to market with the attainable follow-up to their sexy six-figure coupe and affordable offerings from the likes of the Volvo XC40 Recharge are bringing debut offerings from less mainstream brands. While sleeker, more affordable offerings will be hitting the road, the battery-powered genre is also getting bolstered by greater charging options. Volta’s network continues its expansion into metropolitan areas including LA, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C., joining some 20,000 charging outlets across the country. And as charging outlets become more plentiful, so do the distances electric vehicles can cover, with anticipated models like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and BMW i4 offering 300 and nearly 400 miles of range, respectively.

The rise of electric vehicles comes despite the phaseout of the U.S. Government’s federal tax credits. The silver lining for the electric car industry? Growth that is driven by genuine interest, not artificial stimulation. And that energy should continue well beyond 2020, proving to be more than a flash in the pan. With Volkswagen announcing plans to produce 1.5 million electric vehicles in 2025 and premium players like Audi, Bentley Motors and Mercedes-Benz going all-in on the technology, electric vehicles are proving to be both of the moment, and ready for the future.

Free Electric Vehicle Charging at Select Wegmans Food Markets

By | Volta News

Introducing a new environmentally-focused amenity for Wegmans’ shoppers 

Volta has teamed up with top grocery retailer Wegmans Food Markets to install electric vehicle charging stations at four of their locations on the East Coast: Burlington, MA; Northborough, MA; Alexandria, VA and Dulles, VA.

Revolution Ready

With national electric vehicle growth doubling year after year, and over 350,000 new electric vehicle sales projected in 2020, Wegmans turned to Volta to better understand the customer demand for vehicle charging.

The Smart Network

Volta’s free-to-use chargers draw in three times more shoppers as compared to other charging networks. The average Volta station is in use over seven hours a day, driving constant foot traffic into participating retailers and encouraging customers to stay longer. Volta uses a data-driven approach to build scalable charging networks. The number and speed of stations at each site are tailored to match customer demand.

Mission Driven

“Both Volta and Wegmans strive to create an exceptional customer experience while being environmentally responsible and investing in the communities we serve,” said Scott Mercer, Founder and CEO of Volta.

Ready, Set, Charge

The Volta stations at all four Wegmans’ locations are up and running, quickly reaching full capacity, and the accolades from customers have started rolling in. One Burlington customer on Plugshare said, “Wegmans and free charging! Why shop anywhere else?”

Download the app, and see the Wegmans’ locations and other free electric vehicle charging stations near you. 

Mia Oppelstrup: Her Data-Driven Journey

By | Volta News

“Being able to come into work every day and pull up my dashboard to see how many millions of free electric miles we’ve powered across the United States for absolutely zero-emission vehicles is inspiring.”

The origin story of Mia Oppelstrup’s data and analytics journey began with a passion for the planet. “I’ve dedicated my career to doing everything I can to fight climate change.” Mia was drawn to Volta because of its mission—to inspire an electric vehicle revolution. Working at Volta aligns with her own desire to create a greener, cleaner future for the planet.

Beyond collaboration

Mia credits Volta with accelerating her career, while also taking it in an unexpected and fulfilling direction. When she started two years ago, Volta had a much smaller team. Despite its numbers, they thrived because the culture always went “beyond collaboration.” Mia partnered with the head software engineer to dig into the data and extract business insights. Through this process, Mia says she discovered her inner data nerd, which led to her becoming a Business Intelligence Manager at Volta today.

Leveraging data 

The Volta team has quadrupled in size since the company took off. Volta partnered with Sigma Computing, a data analytics company, to understand all the data that came with the explosive growth. “With Sigma we immediately saw a 90% reduction in engineering time required for reporting to our site partners,” said Mia. Partnering with Sigma also gave ongoing human support and training from real engineers, while helping Volta refine its data approach to target goals more effectively.

 Volta recently surpassed 50 million free electric vehicle miles. Proof for Mia that her data-driven journey with Volta is headed in the right direction and truly making a lasting difference.

To learn more about Mia’s journey check out this video from Sigma.