General Motors and Pilot Flying J are joining forces to add roughly 2,000 DC fast chargers to 500 truck stops and travel centers off major highways across the U.S., the companies announced Thursday.
The chargers will be capable of supplying juice at up to 350kW, and will be operated by EVgo. It should be said that EVgo and GM are not strangers; they’re already working together to add 3,250 fast chargers in cities and suburbs by 2025. However, this collaboration with Pilot is more geared to benefit long-distance travel, one of the scenarios where EVs can be particularly weak.
Because this is a GM product, those who drive GM EVs can expect some perks. GM outlines those amenities in a press release:
GM customers will receive special benefits like exclusive reservations, discounts on charging, a streamlined charging process through Plug and Charge and integration into GM’s vehicle brand apps providing real-time charger availability and help with route planning. This collaboration is expected to enhance America’s EV driving experience.
Additionally, these stalls will be designed with convenience in mind, as “many” of the sites will feature canopies and pull-through access for trucks and vehicles hauling trailers.
On paper, initiatives like these seem great. Manufacturers have independently accepted they’ll have to shoulder some of the legwork to get EV infrastructure where it needs to be in this country, for better or worse.
The trouble with this privatized, fragmented approach is that it’s produced many different platforms, each requiring its own registration and, in the most annoying cases, smartphone app. Plug-and-Charge functionality will go a long way toward streamlining the payment process, but not every manufacturer has come around to supporting it. Whether or not you’ll get the charging speed advertised is hardly guaranteed, either — and that’s before we address the ongoing bugbear of plug standardization.
We need more stations, yes, but tacking them on by the thousands won’t solve these problems alone. The GM/Pilot network will support Plug-and-Charge, which is a good step toward true interoperability; let’s hope it’s well-maintained. On the flip side, exclusive benefits only fracture things further, and perpetuate a norm that is already impeding EV growth.