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Volkswagen Group of America will install electric vehicle charging stations at Oklahoma Walmart stores

This illustration displays chargers Electrify America plans to install at more than 100 Walmart locations across 34 states, including at least four store locations in Oklahoma. [Illustration provided by Electrify America and BTC Power]

This illustration displays chargers Electrify America plans to install at more than 100 Walmart locations across 34 states, including at least four store locations in Oklahoma. [Illustration provided by Electrify America and BTC Power]

Drivers passing through Oklahoma soon will see more public locations where they can recharge their electric vehicles.

Electrify America, a unit of Volkswagen Group of America, announced this week it will work with Walmart Inc. to install electric vehicle chargers at more than 100 Walmart store locations across 34 states, including four to five stores in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma officials said they expect each of the Oklahoma Walmart locations will be along major interstate corridors designated by Oklahoma as alternative fuel corridors.

Officials also said they expect each location will be capable of providing ultrafast charging capabilities to drivers, regardless of the model of electric vehicle they drive.

Each of the Walmart locations will include enough chargers to handle four vehicles at a time, and officials estimate it will cost between $40,000 and $100,000 to install each charger.

They also said they expect the chargers, designed to provide consumers with a simplified "Plug-Pay-Charge-Go" experience, to be installed and operational by June 2019.

Finally, they welcomed the announcement, noting it further accelerates the state's friendliness to electric vehicles, especially as newer models with increased ranges make it possible for such vehicles to travel the nation's interstates.

"We think we have a good argument here for expanding electric vehicle charging, considering how we are situated when you look at our interstate corridors — they create a major crossroads," said Eric Pollard, the Central Oklahoma Clean Cities coordinator at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

"We've gone to thinking from about how you get your daily charge to, what if I need to travel to Dallas or Tulsa? What will that highway charging look like, who is going to pay for it and who will own the stations?

"So we are moving from thinking about inner-city trips to ones covering longer distances. Our pitch was, if you want to connect the country, you need to focus on Oklahoma," Pollard said.

Shop and charge it

In the release issued by Electrify America, its top executive observed the chargers it will bring to Walmart stores in Oklahoma and elsewhere are a good fit for the retailer's shoppers.

"Our ultrafast charging systems will provide consumers with a quick and convenient way to charge their vehicles in the time it takes to make their Walmart purchases," Mark McNabb, president and CEO of Electrify America, stated in a release.

Walmart officials agreed.

"Providing this service is the right thing to do for our customers, our business and the environment," stated Mark Vanderhelm, Walmart Inc.'s vice president of energy.

Electrify America stated in the release it plans to invest $2 billion during the next decade in electric vehicle infrastructure and educational projects, planning to deploy more than 2,000 chargers across 484 sites on highways in 39 states and in 17 specific metropolitan areas.

Electrify America will spend those funds as part of a $14.7 billion settlement its parent, Volkswagen Group of America, made with the U.S. government to end an investigation into allegations it cheated to meet emissions standards on its diesel vehicles.

Another $2.7 billion that is part of that settlement established an environmental mitigation trust, which states and territories can tap to invest in transportation projects that will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

Each state and territory's share from that fund was calculated based upon the numbers of Volkswagen diesel vehicles involved in the cheating scandal that were registered within each jurisdiction.

Officials said Oklahoma's share of that fund is $22 million, and that Oklahoma's Department of Environmental Quality and other officials are still developing plans on how to use those funds.

Jack Money

Jack Money has worked for The Oklahoman for more than 20 years. During that time, he has worked for the paper’s city, state, metro and business news desks, including serving for a while as an assistant city editor. Money has won state and regional... Read more ›

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