Volvo looks to lower network costs with Starbucks EV chargers


Volvo looks to lower network costs with Starbucks EV chargers

Starbucks EV charger

To transform into an electric-vehicle-only brand by early next decade, Volvo Cars must first address a significant customer pain point.

The Swedish automaker knows that American EV drivers want access to reliable, fast and convenient public charging — and also want to do more than sit in the car for the 30 minutes or so it takes.

More than a year ago, Volvo approached coffee shop chain Starbucks about developing a network of EV fast chargers to solve that.

It’s the latest experiment from an auto brand not shy about exploring new models — from vehicle subscriptions to an online-first retail strategy.

While Tesla is unique in building a proprietary fast-charger network, the rest of the industry has chosen to lean on the burgeoning network of chargers installed by government, utilities and private companies. It’s an easier approach, but one that brings greater uncertainty and less control — which isn’t ideal in a market in which few customers have experience driving an EV.

Volvo is considering a middle path with its Starbucks hookup — helping build a charging network over which it has some control, but without shouldering the exorbitant cost of Tesla’s go-it-alone strategy.

As part of a pilot program, Volvo will install up to 60 fast chargers at 15 Starbucks stores across a 1,350-mile route from Denver to Seattle by year end. The chargers will be from ChargePoint but include Volvo branding.

Alex Tripi, Volvo Car USA head of electrification, described the Starbucks tie-up as an “amenities-first” approach to EV charging.

“We want to send drivers to where there are the amenities that they expect — a clean restroom, a snack, a well-lit parking lot,” Tripi told Automotive News. “Who better to do it with than Starbucks, given their footprint?”

— Urvaksh Karkaria

What you need to know

Rivals take on Tesla with Plug & Charge system for EVs: The auto industry is looking to the capability known as Plug & Charge to level the playing field with Tesla’s Supercharger DC fast-charging network. The system is a complex set of software and security protocols that make on-road DC fast charging quicker and simpler.

Lack of chargers, broken stations may be obstacles to EV adoption: A J.D. Power study found that driver satisfaction with Level 2 public chargers is falling as EV owners deal with a large number of inoperable stations and a slow rollout of public charging infrastructure.

Stellantis’ Free2move grows as other short-term rentals close: As Stellantis pursues its electrification and software targets, it is also working to conquer another goal that has perplexed many an automaker: delivering a viable short-term rental service in the U.S.

Yoav Levy


The U.S. Transportation Department is awarding $1.66 billion in grants to cities and states to buy 1,800 buses in a shift to cleaner, lower-emission travel. That includes 1,100 zero-emission buses, which will nearly double the current national fleet.

Tesla will regain access to EV tax credits next year following President Joe Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, but the electric vehicle maker already has more demand than it can handle, according to CEO Elon Musk.

Korea’s SK Inc. has invested $100 million in North Carolina’s Atom Power, which aims to upgrade the electric vehicle charging experience in the U.S. with new hardware and software, the companies said.

A modular hydrogen production system is being planned for the American Center for Mobility near Detroit as the test track looks to adapt to the needs of its customers and the market.

Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi’s joint venture with Li Auto has applied for bankruptcy, according to a court filing, pointing to the end of a 4-year-old partnership to make electric vehicles.

Brain food

Does prohibiting drivers from using handheld devices lead to lower traffic fatalities? It depends on who you ask. An analysis of NHTSA data by driver education company Zutobi appeared to indicate so, but a senior research scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said it remained unclear how effective such bans are.

Last mile

A mobility company founded by Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt has left eight U.S. markets littered with nonfunctional electric bikes and scooters after abruptly skipping town. According to TechCrunch, about 250 bikes were left lying around in Richmond, Calif., alone, prompting city officials to tell residents not to vandalize them until it could figure out what to do with them.

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