$16,000 in Chargers Net Iowa a $13 Return on Investment in 18 Months

4 years ago by Inside EVs Staff 26

Charging Stations Won't Make You Rich..But That's Not the Point

Charging Stations Won’t Make You Rich..But That’s Not the Point

In Iowa, nearly $16,000 was spent to cover the install of 3 ChargePoint stations.  Those stations were put into use back in Spring of 2012.

Each charge session on any of the three units cost only $1.

To date, only 13 charge sessions have been documented on all 3 units combined.

Running the math, the Des Moines Register suggests that Iowa may have made a big financial mistake in installing those 3 chargers.

As the Des Moines Register reports, there are only 104 pure electric vehicles in the state of Iowa (this figure doesn’t include plug-in hybrids).

Iowa is home to approximately 40 charging stations.

It’s obvious to us that Iowa made the right choice by installing additional charging stations.  It’s future-proofed itself for some time, but the general sentiment in Iowa is that the $16,000 spent was wasted.

That’s clearly not the case, as these chargers will be utilized more and more in the years that lie ahead, but the belief in Iowa was that “If you build it, they will come,” according to the Des Moines Register.  Come from where?

Electric vehicles are coming, but it’s doesn’t work in the “if you build it, they will come” sort of way.  It’s more like “build it now so that you’re ready when they come.”

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26 responses to "$16,000 in Chargers Net Iowa a $13 Return on Investment in 18 Months"

  1. Nelson says:

    The one in the picture looks like it’s in a pretty desolate area. Why don’t I ever see a ChargePoint station in a crowded Mall Parking Lot?
    No Malls in Iowa?
    No WalMart Super Stores?

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

  2. Spec says:

    It is not like they did this as a business investment.

  3. MDEV says:

    FOX news

  4. Bloggin says:

    It’s simply because people who buy EVs charge at home. It’s not ‘fun’ wait for :30 to 7 hours waiting for your car to charge. No one is going to buy an EV with the expectation of searching for charging stations and waiting hours for the charge, and then paying almost double for that it costs to charge at home.

    As cities become smarter, evolving from the old gas station mentality, they will begin to heavily promote home chargers and work place chargers. But random chargers about the city have little value.

    Just think about it, if you lived at a gas station, would you drive around the city looking for another gas station to ‘top off’ before you drove home??

    1. kdawg says:

      I opportunity charge every time I get a chance. And I choose businesses/parking spaces that have chargers over those that don’t. I have a range extender as a backup, but if I can prevent the gas engine from coming on, then why not? If I had a BEV and was pushing the range limit, of course these are useful.

  5. David Murray says:

    I bet they are all in crappy locations. If they were all at shopping malls I bet they’d get some use.

    1. kdawg says:

      That’s my guess too. I would love to be at the meetings where they decide where to put chargers.

  6. ClarksonCote says:

    Are they Level 1 Chargepoints like the one pictured?

  7. scott moore says:

    Sounds like they should have just spent the money rebating peoples home chargers.

  8. Dan Frederiksen says:

    That’s why it should obviously be a government job.
    Imagine if they left the Manhattan project to play out on its own when there was a market for it.
    Some things are gov jobs. Not everything happens by capitalism and indeed sometimes capitalism retards progress like big oil spending big money to cripple alternatives.

    1. David Stone says:

      What the oil companies are doing is not capitalism.
      And if the government did not pay for oil security, the oil companies would not be rich and powerful enough to do what they do.

      Private companies are for commerce.
      Governments are for guaranteing the market is free by hold market participants to account and factoring externalities.

  9. ThombDBomb says:

    A $40k investment in a BEV would net me a negative ROI in 18 Months

    1. Turbofroggy says:

      Well there is your first problem, you spent $40K on a BEV. Lets use a more sane/normal example, the $28,800 Nissan Leaf S and compare it to a run-of-the-mill gas car, a Mazda 3 sedan purchased in Washington:

      Assumptions:
      $4/gallon gas
      $0.08/kwh
      12,000 miles/year

      Lets just compare initial car and fuel costs, maintenance is much higher on the Mazda but I won’t count that for this example.

      Mazda 3 i SV AT 4 door – $17,550 * 1.09 sales tax = $19,129
      27 MPG combined, 12,000 miles a year @ $4/gallon = $1,714 in fuel per year

      Leaf S – $28,800 – $7500 tax credit (no sales tax in WA) $21,800.
      116 MPGe, 4 miles/kwh, 12,000 miles a year @ $0.08/kwh = $240.

      First year, Mazda 3 fuel + car = $20,843
      First year, Leaf electricity + car = $21,540

      This is a difference of $697 the first year more for the Leaf.

      However, after 18 months, the Mazda 3 starts to cost more, and keeps costing more, every month in fuel and maintenance after that.

      So you should have said starts to have a positive ROI after 18 months…

      1. ThombDBomb says:

        Anything, including cars, that lose value after you purchase it is not an investment. I stand uncorrected 😉

  10. GeorgeS says:

    Tesla has the only charge station philosophy that makes sense. Scattering level 1 and 2 chargers around willy nilly is a waste of money.

    1. David Murray says:

      Speak for yourself. I think L2 public chargers are very beneficial. The problem is most of the ones we have are not in locations that make sense.

      1. GeorgeS says:

        That’s what I meant by willy nilly.

    2. Anthony says:

      I just got some installed at work (finally, took forever) and even without the formal announcement, people are already using it (one Leaf and two Volts).

  11. Bill52 says:

    Public charging station should be own and provided by Electric/Utility co. We should have plastic card like a credit card from our Electric company account, and when you swipe your card to charge the car, the bill is added your utility bill at the end of the month.

  12. Bonaire says:

    Put them in Airports and Hotels. Duh!

    1. David Murray says:

      Honestly hotels don’t make much sense right now. If you are staying at a hotel it means you had to drive a long distance to get there. Unless you own a Tesla or a Volt, it’s unlikely you’ll be needing an L2 station at your hotel. I suppose the exception to that might be if you flew into town and rented an EV.

  13. The cost for providing authorization and payment not only doubles (or quadruples) cost of Level 2 installation, but has ongoing hosting costs as well. For payment system to work, there needs to be data communications (cell service) plus any fees to be listed with EVSE network provider. Without a payment system, a Level 2 EVSE is under $3000.

    From EV Project a typical Level 2 public station was used once every 6-12 days on average. (some used more/less often, but only averages per a city region were provided) DC chargers were used 4-6 times per day. The power delivered by both types (AC & DC) was similar, being ~8kWh per session. Biggest difference was time spent charging: 10-12 min. For DC vs. 120-140 minutes for Level 2 (2011/12 Leaf/Volt @ 3.3kW/h) for average 8kW charge.

    It seems worth an experiment to place fewer DC charges in a region for similar costs vs. a larger number of Level 2 EVSE. Advantage is quicker charges, fewer sites to maintain, and greater usage. Disadvantage is fewer sites, so good locations is more critical. Beyond high initial installation costs, the ongoing operation costs would be similar.

    The major advantage is DC is more Future-Proof than 6.6 kW/h AC EVSE commonly deployed today. The J1772 standard allows upto 20kW/h, but few EVSE are capable of providing more than 10kW/h. A recent case in point; poorly designed 6.6 kW/h EVSE stations now limited to 3.3kW/h. This is a problem when over half of EVs on the roads TODAY are capable of charging at greater than 6.6 kW/h! In 2014 over 75% of EVs will have capability to charge at 40kW/h or greater.

    Note: Not saying all charging needs to be high kW/h, rather it should be right-sized for use-case. Level 1 at work, or long term parking (eg: airport, hotel) is a very economical solution as just standard 120V outlet. Pay-for-use don’t make sense until location gets higher use to justify added expense.

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      I wounder would anyone consider building one these like a old fashion parking meter where you put change into it in the form of dollar bills and coins based off of hours of use or amount of power needed. That way you avid the bank cards and their fees.

  14. Dave R says:

    There’s a couple problems here – I’m guessing that the station in question is located at the Des Moines Library which Plugshare lists as having 3 Chargepoint stations: http://api.plugshare.com/view/location/7117

    1. It’s at a library. Who’s going to drive far enough that they need to recharge to visit a library?
    2. There’s no businesses nearby.
    3. Not many plug-ins around Des Moines.

    So yeah – 3 strikes and you’re out.

    #1 thing to do is to put stations somewhere people want to frequently visit and will hang out for at least an hour. This means in an area with a lot of restaurants, shops, entertainment, etc.

    Alternatively, put them near a place where a lot of people work and might need to charge up during the day to get home.

    1. Carl says:

      Hmmm… Like San Jose.

      I have L2 chargers at work, and San Jose has them in their parking garages, which happens to be by the movie theatres and restaurants, and downtown workers.

  15. Spec says:

    Location, location, location.

    Pretty much every EV owner can charge for much less at home. So the only reason you would use public charging is because you’ve driven a long distance (so you are far from home) to a place where you will spend several hours at (the only way to get a decent charge). So they need to install them at places where people would drive a long distance to get to where they would spend several hours. Places like Zoos, museums, big shopping malls, theme parks, beaches, attractions, big city downtown areas, etc.