Voltera CEO: 'Megawatt charging can’t come soon enough'

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Updated Jun 7, 2024
Voltera Lynwood Charging Depot
Voltera CEO Matt Horton is adamant the electric truck charging depot business desperately needs Megawatt charging to advance at a faster pace for future success.

The ongoing development of America’s 21st century freight network was displayed in full force last month at the 2024 ACT Expo as suppliers, vendors, and OEMs came together in Las Vegas for the week-long convention. One of those attendees was Matt Horton, CEO Voltera.

The California-based Charging Infrastructure as a Service company, according to its website, “provides the critical infrastructure necessary to support the full electrification of transportation.” This includes strategically locating, building, and operating charging depots for fleet operators. 

With past experience as Rivian’s Vice President of Energy and Charging Solutions, and Chief Commercial Officer at Proterra, Horton is keenly aware of the industry’s current strengths and weaknesses. Among the latter, Megawatt charging is of particular area of interest for Horton.  

Megawatt Charging: Vital for Success

Speaking to Clean Trucking, Horton said he firmly believes Megawatt charging is critical and its implementation, in general, is not progressing fast enough. 

“There is a clear need for Megawatt charging,” he said. “Some progress is being made but it’s a technology that can’t come soon enough.”

Megawatt charging, also known as Megawatt Charging System (MCS), is a charging connector that provides significant amounts of power to electric vehicles. It is designed to enable faster charging times for large battery packs, which are required for long-haul trucks and other commercial vehicles types. It is possible for medium- and heavy-duty truck drivers to get up to 300 miles of range in less than 30 minutes of charging. 

“In addition to higher power charging, [what we also] need is reliable charging,” Horton added.

Megawatt charging promises both once fully developed and implemented. The industry has taken note.

Last month, ChargePoint announced it is supporting Megawatt charging with the introduction of its own system as part of a strategy to increase its role in the development of the commercial trucking industry. At launch, this MCS will offer up to 1.2 megawatts and, eventually, up to 3 megawatts. Additionally, it can accommodate bi-directional charging. The company already has vast experience with its DC fast chargers for passenger EVs. 

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ChargePoint Megawatt ChargerChargePoint promises its new Megawatt charger will revolutionize the commercial trucking industry with significantly faster charging speeds for battery-electric vehicles.ChargePoint

Horton’s assertion for more rapid MCS implementation will bring vast industry benefits.

“Companies in the fleet space are starting to recognize you don’t have to mimic existing patterns of on road fueling,” he explained. “Logistics companies lease a lot of distribution centers and local utility companies can’t accommodate their needs in time. Think of 'charging depots instead.' These bring new capabilities to the table and Megawatt charging is vital.”

The technology has another side benefit: it can release enough energy to provide power for an estimated 1,000 homes. 

Megawatt charging's ongoing development and deployment is especially critical for long-haul transportation. PepsiCo, for example, has implemented Megawatt charging for its growing Tesla Semi fleet, and has since achieved a range of over 1,000 miles. 

"Charging speeds will increase [with MCS]," Horton continued. "I have spoken to a lot of fleet customers that don’t believe batteries are going to solve their needs for all of their routes but MCS will absolutely help alleviate some of those concerns." 

The Hydrogen Factor

Because of the slow deployment of Megawatt charging and battery-electric's range limitations, fleet operators remain concerned about long-haul operations. Hydrogen fuel cell technology could be the long-term solution but this won't happen until the cost of the hydrogen fuel itself decreases significantly.

[Related: Nikola’s second HYLA hydrogen refueling station opens in Southern California]

"Many companies are doing hydrogen pilot programs," Horton said. "Electric powertrains will dominate the trucking space but a majority will likely be battery electric in the future. Hydrogen fuel cell technology does have a place. This technology has improved but there is a remaining challenge with the cost of hydrogen fuel until production and distribution so it can be scaled. For the immediate future, it will remain a relatively expensive fuel."


Jay Traugott has covered the automotive and transportation sector for over a decade and now serves as Senior Editor for Clean Trucking. He holds a drifting license and has driven on some of the world's best race tracks, including the Nurburgring and Spa. He lives near Boulder, Colorado, and spends his free time snowboarding, climbing, and hiking. He can be reached at [email protected].

Hydrogen Fuel Cell & BEV Survey
The following survey was sent as a link in an email cover message in February 2023 to the newsletter lists for Overdrive and CCJ. After approximately two weeks, a total of 176 owner-operators under their own authority, 113 owner-operators leased or assigned to a carrier and 82 fleet executives and 36 fleet employees from fleets with 10 or more power units had completed and submitted the questionnaire for a total of 407 qualified responses. Cross-tabulations based on respondent type are provided for each question when applicable.
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