Perhaps this has happened to you as well? We pulled the Chevy Volt into a garage the other day with a couple EV parking locations available. To our dismay the unused J1772 240V(Level 2) was non-functional. There was a 120V plug available and decided to use that with our portable and get at least some juice. When we got back to the car some EV elves had unplugged our 120 portable unit, rolled it up underneath the car and graciously plugged us into the working Level 2 station! Interestingly when you unplug a Volt with the doors locked the Alarm will sound. However there is a short delay from the time you unplug till the Alarm goes off. I suspect the other driver must have known this and quickly swapped the J1772 heads Indiana Jones style. In this case it actually worked No boulders rolling, only electrons flowing. So thanks random (probably Volt) driver out there! The EV spirit is strong in you!
Interesting article today over at our friends from Green Car Reports. Ford is offering 3 years of free charging with a CMAX energi purchase. Nissan has had a similar program in place for some time for the Leaf. Interesting, since the CMAX has an EV only range of only about 20 miles and does not need/use quick charging, plus people mainly charge at home. Perhaps some Ford focus groups showed something like this would help sales?
One interesting supposition might be that Ford is realizing that the overall cost to them for free public charging would not be that much on a per vehicle basis. This is probably true given that upwards of 90% of all charging is done at home or work. This was noted our prior blog post about public charging at networks costing as much or more than gas.
It does spur the general conversation about how car companies other than Tesla are going to be involved in helping build the public infrastructure.
We wonder then given the stats and the fact that auto companies know very soon a big portion of their fleet will have a plug, who will be the first large car company to simply give away free charging at public networks just like Tesla already does?
At current gas prices vs the costs of plugging in at a network public station, gas is winning hands down on price.
Before we go too much further let’s make some assumptions and some reality checks.
1. Even though our job here @ CarStations is to list public stations, the reality is upwards of 90% of all charging is either done at home or work. This is generally a significant savings over gas for the consumer.
2. Right now the cost of going to a network style public charging station for a non-Tesla station(which is generally free for Tesla drivers) can be expensive. According to the Blink Network website for example it costs .49 per KWH(Kilowatt Hour) in California as a member for Level2 charging. For a Chevy Volt to go 40 miles of EV range it takes about 13 KWH worth of charge. This works out to over $6.00. A Toyota Prius can do that for $3.00 worth of gas. Some other network stations are cheaper, but it’s still not cheaper than gas.
3. There are thousands of businesses and locations that do offer free charging in exchange for staying at their hotel, restaurant, etc and also for marketing purposes. This is similar to the free Wi-Fi model, but for this we are focused on the stations that do charge.
Beyond the cool Factor of Tesla, many electric cars and Plugin Hybrids are bought with the idea of saving money by not paying gas. People do the math on buying an electric car and if you commute back and forth to work it certainly can be a large savings compared to a similar gas vehicle. In these cases where previously you might spend $200-$400 month in gas, in California you might spend $40 of electricity at your home or perhaps free/cost reduced at work.
However, as noted with the cost of using public stations that charge a fee costing more than gas or at the very similar costs, what happens as more people hit the road in the coming years when cheaper long range vehicles start rolling out?
We’ll take an electric goggles view of this and make a prediction
From what we have read gas station owners don’t really make much money on selling gas. According to the industry, convenience store owners only profit about .03 per gallon. They make money on all the other stuff you buy while there. This is why you see highway stations with restaurants, etc. Convenience store owners could potentially fix their overall costs long term with Solar or negotiated power agreements vs the highly volatile cost of gas and can simply focus on their core business of selling you everything else. It’s possible then that charging up will be much lower cost than even today’s gas prices. They may even have Level 2 stations available for free if your willing to wait with a receipt of a food purchase over a certain amount.
More non-convenience style business and public locations we believe will move toward a “free” model provided by businesses to attract customers, similar to how free Wi-Fi has become a must for some businesses. Again, perhaps a code is provided based on a purchase, etc. Will neighborhood vs highway “convenience store” type charging locations even survive in the future if your mostly plugging in @ home? We guess probably not.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out over the coming years.
This leads to an interesting question for the “charging station” industry in general. Will charging network companies survive in the future? What will be the model? That’s a another topic of speculation for another post.
Just noticed this interesting tidbit over @ Green Car Reports report about their new ez charge card which let’s you charge on multiple charging networks:
“Nissan will also extend its “No Charge To Charge” promotion, under which new Nissan Leaf buyers get two years of free public charging, throughout the entire EZ Charge network.
Buyers who purchase a Nissan Leaf between April 1 and July 1 this year will be retroactively offered both the free-charging promotion and the EZ Charge network card.
NRG eVgo will manage the EZ Charge network together with the other partners.”
Funny, didn’t we just suggest this in a recent blog post? Quoting ourselves here:
“Automakers might think about owning their own quick charging network, perhaps collectively through a consortium and add a cost to the vehicle for free lifetime quick charging for your customers? This would be a great area to compete if not on the vehicle itself, but the infrastructure available.”
John Voelcker @ Green Car Reports has a great article and observation that hasn’t been articulated much other than within owners groups and car makers themselves. Way back during the Who Killed the Electric car days of fighting auto makers to keep vehicles on the road, this love of ownership argument to keep ev investment going is what we and other EV advocates were saying the whole time. (oh, how that time seems so far away. but really it was barely 10 years ago!)
If you as a business had a product that is not just universally liked, but flat out loved with the highest satisfaction ratings in your product line, why wouldn’t you continue to invest in that? This makes Honda’s decision to stop making the Fit EV recently completely bizarre.
It’s not just people love their electric cars, they can’t stop talking about them. People even on their own time and money promote their vehicle at rallies, parades, auto shows, give ride and drives and more. Just chat with any ev owner you see and they usually can go on for a while about the benefits, how awesome it is to charge up in your own garage, etc.
This one to one evangelizing of a product is incredibly rare for any product and indeed one of the main reasons that not only will electric vehicles be a success, but eventually it’ll just be the “car”.
Wait, what? Isn’t that hyperbolic? Aren’t the other auto companies going to catch up? We hope so as competition is good(we love our Nissan Leaf) and even Elon Musk has said he is surprised the other companies aren’t doing more. We are not sure the auto companies realize how fast the asphalt is shifting under their tires. The truth is the car as we know it is going from just a “car” to a rolling computer. You don’t get tune up’s anymore, you get software updates.
So let’s look at some ways Tesla may own everything. We here @ CarStations and Elon Musk have said within 10 years is when the majority of new cars will have a plug. Secondly as owners of EV’s have shown adding solar to your house/business is a no brainer in a cost/comparison to buying a gas vehicle and gas. (there is a large % of EV drivers with solar or getting solar. We think Nissan had some survey stats at one point about 30-40%). Thirdly Telsa is building out the Telsa Supercharger network world wide and giving it away for free to their customers. (See our other post on the charging for charging for more thoughts on this.) Fourth Tesla is already starting to test their batteries in conjunction with said solar. (Oh Yeah, Elon Musk is CEO of Solar City too!). Lastly Tesla may own the battery too with their new Gigafactory to create their own batteries from scratch at a much lower cost. That’s not even getting into the actual electronics in the car. So, yeah that’s just about everything.
There is some very good news for the other auto makers. Obviously the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt have sold very well, but what happens when Telsa enters that market with a cheaper long distance EV and used Model S’s in a couple years start coming down to a more affordable price? The bigger question is where are the other automakers?
Public charging infrastructure is a huge factor in the growth of the EV and Tesla understands this. As mentioned above, Tesla is building out their own free quickcharge/Supercharger network. Not only that but many of the SuperChargers have multiple slots to charge cars and eventually up to 8 at a time in the future. There were some recent patents filed by Tesla regarding this. Most Chademo Quick Chargers in the public today can handle 1 or maybe 2 at a time. Unless the other auto companies do something similar to compete, Tesla could end up owning the whole quick charging infrastructure too. Tesla already is about to offer a Chademo to Tesla adapter. we suspect they could easily go the other way too if needed, so you could take your Nissan Leaf with a Chademo to a Tesla Supercharger station for a small fee and/or buy a tesla and get it for Free
All the other auto makers currently rely on an world wide ad-hoc installation of charging stations, which is fine for level 2 and level 1, but for quick charging and as EV drivers we would prefer something more reliable, planned along regular routes and complete. Most people like Free of course. Automakers might think about owning their own quick charging network, perhaps collectively through a consortium and add a cost to the vehicle for free lifetime quick charging for your customers? This would be a great area to compete if not on the vehicle itself, but the infrastructure available.
There is still some uncertainty when it comes to battery breakthroughs and electronics and costs. However, if the automakers don’t wake up in the next few years,it’s possible they’ll still make cars, but like the computer manufacturers your car may have the “Tesla Inside” badge.
In our prior post Electric Car Charging Station Rates – Free or to Charge? we explored in detail some of our thoughts on the subject. In a new post today @ Green Car Reports is the announcement about the quick charge network starting up fees for the the Northwest electric highway.
Charging for a charge. It’s a tough road to hoe as people buy electric cars mainly to save a lot of money as compared to paying for gas. Sure they are better for the environment, etc, but paying $45 in electricity vs $300.00 a month in gas? We know what the real reason is. Getting anywhere close the price of gas may be a tough sell. As is discussed a bit in the article, we keep wondering why Nissan and others don’t follow Tesla’s example and just pay to get quick charging up and going nationwide without cost. The up front cost is expensive, but it could be baked into the price of the vehicles themselves. For example, Both Nissan and Chevy already charge extra for the quick charge option. What about adding another $500 for free lifetime quick charging? The truth is that about 90% of all charging is done at home, so that $500.00 should cover more than the life of the car of public quick charging for most people.
Really like this article by John Voelcker @ Green Car Reports. Read the whole thing and also his prior piece on the same subject. Basically it’s the economics. It takes a longer amount of time for your average sales person to sell an electric car. Especially with coordination of a charging station installation, etc. The problem is the sales person selling the electric car is not making any more money on that Nissan Leaf, Chevy Spark, Volt, etc vs a versa, gas spark or other gas car. So using basic economics why would that person waste all that extra time to make the same money when they could be selling an extra gas car or two?
I think instead of the Manufacturer lowering the price or having incentives when they want to push cars, why not kick in some sort of reverse coupon to the individual sales person an extra $200.00 or even $500.00? I know when I was kid selling shoes the shoes I sold more of the shoes that came with that extra couple bucks of incentive. The same logic applies here.
Today we are tackling the subject of: Will charging a price to charge up your electric ride be a workable model in the future?
The media isn’t quite aware of some of the interesting situations, behaviors and outcomes occurring with electric cars beyond the above the surface discussions of electric car vs gas, how fast the Tesla is vs a Corvette, etc. Lost in the traditional media and brewing beneath the hot bitumen surface is a host of monumental societal shifts that either are occurring right now or will occur with the advent of hundreds of thousands and soon millions of electric cars, plugin hybrids; public and even private charging stations out in the world. Sometimes we EV drivers feel like the home brew computing club back in the 1970’s wondering why everyone else out there doesn’t see what’s coming and inevitable
We here at CarStations sit in the unique position of seeing the growth of electric cars and charging infrastructure happen in real time. We are able to see electric car/charging infrastructure issues and their exciting possibilities.
One of the first major issues being worked out in the marketplace right now is how, if and can charging station owners charge drivers? This is particularly a hot topic among drivers, the charging station manufacturers and charging network owners. There are several different models ranging from charging per hour, charging per kilowatt hour, single session charging, free charging, free conditional charging(buy something or stay at hotel) and so on.
To complicate things more, an electric car owner can bring a portable plug and charge up on many 120 and 240 outlets (voltage here in the U.S.).
As you can imagine most drivers prefer a “free” station, but questions arise as to whom is paying for the infrastructure, electricity, etc.
Will charging for a charge work in the future or are we headed to a free or cheap model?
There are already thousands of charging locations that are free or low cost and likely are to stay that way. For example. Let’s say you’re a shopping mall. One of the ways shopping mall’s measure their revenue is how long they can keep someone at the mall. If you as an electric car driver (I am sure the mall would love it if your a Tesla driver), need a charge up and it’s convenient, it’s quite likely you will be spending some time and hopefully some dollars at the mall waiting for some juice. The mall does not care if they spend the equivalent of $10-$15 per day to have several people spend significant time hanging at the mall. It’s also free marketing for them to distinguish between other shopping avenues. Early adopters are much more likely to patronize and be more loyal to a location that is Electric Car friendly. This in turn creates great word of mouth and positive comments about the location on CarStations website and apps.
The same marketing logic is true of many locations. Automotive dealers are realizing this themselves. An auto dealer in a major market can spend hundreds of thousands on advertising each year, just to get people to their dealership. Ones that are selling electric cars already have charging stations installed. So, what is a few dollars to an auto dealer for some positive advertising? By encouraging any electric car driver, regardless of brand, to come and hang at the dealer they create great word of mouth. Isn’t it likely by being so accommodating they just created a future customer or at least recommend to a local friend? Sadly this has not been the case yet for all, but some smart auto dealers are embracing it. See Mossy Nissan in San Diego for an example of good cheap word of mouth. On the other hand, it can go the other way if the auto dealer excludes electric car drivers.
Early adopters are likely the people who influence on technology within their group of friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. Ask any EV driver how many cars they have directly help sell and there is a large portion that have done so. A few bucks in electricity for the positive word of mouth for future sales is usually an easy incentive.
Hotels are beginning to see this is a must need amenity. Many are offering it for free to customers and patrons. Here is the Viking hotel in Rhode Island and the Patterson, CA Best Western are a just two examples of many hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts offering electric car charging already on CarStations.
Although not the majority, there have been some businesses who install charging stations thinking they are going to make money like it’s some sort of vending machine. Here is a good tip business owners. If your charging more than the cost of Gas, why would anyone stop there? In fact you may just antagonize EV drivers. There are several businesses out there trying to charge $2,$3 dollars(US) or more per hour. This is more than buying gasoline. People aren’t always buying electric cars to be green, they are buying them as the cost to “fill” them up is so much less and maintenance is nearly zero when compared to a gas car. Your average home charging costs are generally 1/4 10 1/9 the cost of gas. With so many free places to charge and with a portable cable they can even plug into Grandma’s dryer plug.
So, as you can see. It’s complicated It’s also quickly changing. If we had to make a prediction based on relatively stable electric rates, Level 1 and Level 2 charging at locations that want your business will be majority free. QuickCharge or Fast charging might be able to charge for the convenience, but with Tesla giving away free SuperCharger fill ups, who knows what the future model may be? Maybe car companies, just help build the quick charge network and it’s free for everyone for the first 3 years like the free maintenance programs now with cars?
Electric cars are truly a disruptive technology that will take us places no one has thought of yet. What happens when the world begins to shift from oil transportation? Social behaviors will and are already changing(CarStations is an example of drivers helping drivers). With the distributive nature of plugging in and filling up almost anywhere there is a plug, the power of transportation shifts into the hands of the consumer. Perhaps it could become a real free(dom) market after all? We will explore more deep electric thoughts in future posts about other ev topics like how the coming of the electric car will be seen 30 years from now as the longest economic expansion period in history. Well, we hope