The startup WattEV aims to build a 25-megawatt electric-only truck stop in Bakersfield, California, with charging powered by a solar array. The site will be open to the public, but WattEV also plans to use the charging stations for its own fleet of vehicles.
While a 25-MW capacity, with 40 charging stalls, is the long-term goal, the site will start at 4 MW. That would put it about on par with the first publicly-accessible electric heavy-duty truck charging station, which opened last month in Portland, Oregon.
It’s much larger, though. The 110-acre site is at a major highway intersection at the southern end of California’s San Joaquin Valley, and is located near Amazon and Walmart fulfillment centers, a WattEV press release said. The site will have a “solar micro-grid” with battery energy storage, but will also get grid electricity from local utility Pacific Gas & Electric, the release said.
Prototype for Tesla Semi electric semi-trailer truck
WattEV, which says that it’s included manufacturers, tech firms, community organizations, and government agencies, is also pushing the process along with its own fleet. It’s already made reservations for 50 Tesla Semis, and plans to place more orders with other manufacturers, on the way to a shared goal across the industry of putting 12,000 heavy-duty battery-electric trucks on California roads by the end of 2030.
Ramping up charging infrastructure for big trucks is going to be a much more significant hurdle, than siting DC fast-charging for electric cars, due to greater power demands. It also faces the same standardization challenges as electric-car fast charging. Truckmakers are still converging on a megawatt charging standard—and not even Tesla is going it alone this time.
However, WattEV isn’t the only entity planning dedicated charging sites for heavy-duty trucks. In 2020, utilities released a plan for a West Coast electric highway linking California, Oregon, and Washington along the I-5 highway corridor. The plan called for some charging sites on connecting highways, including California Route 99, which passes through Bakersfield. So perhaps WattEV’s truck stop could become part of that network.