Volkswagen's nearly $15 billion settlement over its diesel emissions cheating included a stipulation that it push clean transportation, and that involves a lot more than producing electric cars. The automaker's Electrify America division has unveiled plans to invest $300 million into a national network of 450 electric car charging stations. The grid will cover 11 "major metropolitan areas" and high-traffic highways in 39 states. These won't all be basic chargers, either. The 240 highway stations will include both 150kW and 320kW chargers that, at the higher power rating, will top up future EVs in as little as 15 to 20 minutes -- a short enough time that you might not have to plan your schedule around your recharging habits.
The cash is part of a larger $2 billion commitment to zero-emissions infrastructure and awareness campaign. Even if you can't take advantage of the chargers, it'll be hard to completely escape VW's marketing push.
This will undoubtedly help VW's increasingly ambitious EV plans, but it could be a big deal for American drivers as a whole. Combined with other networks, it could make fast, non-proprietary EV charging stations relatively commonplace in heavily populated areas. The biggest challenge may be serving quieter regions. Until you can reliably travel cross-country (particularly in rural areas), it'll still be easier for some people to live with gas-powered vehicles.