HALTON HILLS, Ont. — Electrify Canada, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Canada, on Wednesday opened the first of 32 planned fast-charging stations that it says can recoup up to 320 kilometres of range of a vehicle’s battery in just 10 minutes.
The station, located at an outlet mall about 50 km west of Toronto, is seen by Electrify Canada as the first step toward building out EV charging infrastructure that will make such vehicles more practical for buyers, said Rob Barrosa, COO of Electrify Canada.
“As you get more of this infrastructure out there and more of the cars out there, it starts to build upon itself and the psyche starts to change,” Barrosa said at an event marking the station’s opening. “It’s not, ‘Can I get an electric car?’ It’s, ‘What type of electric car should I get?’”
The charging station opened as VW Group and other automakers invest heavily into their EV offerings and as many of those vehicles begin to enter the market. Porsche, for instance, unveiled its Taycan EV at an event in Niagara Falls, Ont., earlier this month, while new electric production vehicles and concept cars were the focuses of several automakers at the recent Frankfurt auto show.
The station includes four charging stands that use cooled-cable technology to enable fast charging, with room to build more if demand necessitates it. The station can charge vehicles at up to 350 kilowatts, allowing vehicles to get about 32 km of range back in one minute. However, there are not any vehicles on Canadian roadways that have the 800-volt batteries necessary to charge at that level. Volkswagen, though, said the Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT will be equipped with 800-volt batteries.
Electrify Canada plans to open 31 other stations over the next year or so. Barrosa said Electrify Canada is focused for now on building stations off highway routes to enable long-distance electric driving.
He said the stations will generally be built from Vancouver to Calgary in western Canada and from Windsor to Quebec City in the east. Long-term, the company also plans to build more fast chargers within cities to allow for fast charging for EV drivers who do not have home charging units.
Barrosa said the Electrify Canada pulls data from Volkswagen about where its customers are, where they travel to and solicits feedback from other automakers to figure out where specifically to build its stations. Generally, they will be built just off major highways and at locations such as malls that allow consumers to do something while their vehicles charge.
“Who’s going to buy an electric vehicle when there’s nowhere to charge them or they have to go great distances to do that? The goal is to try to make it as convenient as possible, in the right traffic areas where people go,” said Lorie-Ann Roxburgh, acting CEO of VW Group Canada.