A Guide For Station Owners: 5 Ideas On How To Spend Less Money And Serve More EV Drivers

JUL 21 2014 BY RICHARD LOWENTHAL (CTO & FOUNDER CHARGEPOINT) 32

Cadillac ELR connected to ChargePoint

Cadillac ELR connected to ChargePoint

ChargePoint CTO and Founder Richard Lowenthal

ChargePoint CTO and Founder Richard Lowenthal

If you haven’t noticed, electric vehicles (EVs) are catching on with over 200,000 on the road and record sales in the month of May. They’re better for the environment, cheaper to fuel and, with thousands of charging stations sprinkled throughout the country, drivers know they can plug in wherever they go. One of the biggest barriers to buying an EV is the feeling that you don’t have anywhere to charge. So to continue pacing the rapid growth we’ve seen in the EV industry, it’s important to make offering EV charging fit into any business model and more affordable for everyone.

As such, here are five ideas to reduce the cost of building out a charging infrastructure, ultimately helping to avoid congestion and the resulting “charge rage” among drivers.

Editor’s Note/Disclaimer:   The author of this piece – Richard Lowenthal is also the CTO and founder of ChargePoint.  InsideEVs received no compensation of any kind (as always) for publishing it; and as such, takes no stance on the superiority of one EVSE product over another as a result.  Our thanks to Mr. Lowenthal.

  1. Charge for charging

Cumulative Plug-In Sales For The USA

Cumulative Plug-In Sales For The USA Through June (InsideEVs data compiled by Mark Larsen)

It’s important to have options when it comes to setting fees on your EV charging stations. Some station owners want to offer free charging, and they should have the ability to do so. But if your stations are being over utilized and causing congestion, you can incent drivers to move their car by setting even a small fee. On the ChargePoint network, when a station is free to use, drivers spend an average of 6 hours there – even after they’ve received a full charge. Effectively, that means a station may only serve one car a day. When there is a cost to charge, drivers will only plug in when they need the charge and move their car when they have finished, freeing up the station for the next driver. In fact on the ChargePoint network, when there is a fee to plug-in, average dwell time is cut in half to just 2 or 3 hours, freeing up the station for the next driver. Plus with a small fee, you can also help cover the cost of providing electricity and start paying yourself back for the station itself.

 

  1. Serve more than one car at a time

The cost of building out charging infrastructure is dominated by installation labor costs. If you’re going to spend a few thousand dollars digging up cement and wiring for EV charging, make sure you install a station that can serve more than one car at a time. We call these dual port stations.

ChargePoint Station Interacting With A BMW i3

ChargePoint Station Interacting With A BMW i3

  1. Prepare to scale up

To avoid paying for installation costs multiple times, pre-wire for future stations. Adoption is only increasing, so it’s safe to assume that in the near future you’re going to see even more EVs pulling into your parking lots.

 

  1. Pick the right kind of station

There are three types of EV charging stations – level 1 (110 volts), level 2 (240 volts) and DC fast chargers. Level 2 stations make up the majority of public charging spots. Level 2 makes sense when the drivers don’t need a full charge and can leave their car for anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours, like shopping centers, restaurants, parking garages, workplaces. DC fast chargers are very important for road trips and should be on major routes within and between cities. Honestly, level 1 charging doesn’t make much sense in most scenarios. The infrastructure is very affordable, but to get any serious charge from a level 1 station you have to be plugged in for a whole day. In fact, a Tesla takes about 50 hours to get a full charge on a level 1 station.

 

  1. Be smart about installation locations

This may seem like a no brainer, but make sure the station is in a convenient location for drivers to access. And group them in a way that more than one parking spot can be served by each port.

By making EV charging more affordable, we can continue building the industry and getting more people to make the switch to electric.

Categories: Charging

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

32 Comments on "A Guide For Station Owners: 5 Ideas On How To Spend Less Money And Serve More EV Drivers"

newest oldest most voted
Sublime

Level 1 actually makes a lot of sense, any place people will be parked for more than a few hours and/or not want to move their car. Airports, hotels, amusement parks, and workplaces are first to come to mind. You may still want to offer a Level 2 at a price, but level 1 for free or lesser cost. You can likely wire 10 or 20 level 1 outlets for the cost of a Level 2 EVSE.

Joshua Burstyn

Provided the Level 1 spots are clearly for long term use and that it’s not chosen simply based on price, I agree.

Many organizations remain ignorant of the requirements for EV charging and may believe 120v charging is fine for most uses. It’s not.

Ocean Railroader

I could see using level 1 if you are going on a week long cruise and need to charge up your car at the cruise port then it would make sense to have 300 chargers.

I can completely charge my EV overnight on a level one charger when I get home from the office before I need it again the next morning. I just plug it into our christmas tree light switch by the kitchen door. NO PROBLEM at all.

Leptoquark

True, L1 is great for airport parking, and for 8 hours at work. My preferred workplace installation would have about 80/20 L1/L2, with the L1 free, or at the exact cost for electricity, and the L2 charged at a bit higher premium for those who need it. At L1 charging is limited to 1.4 kW, which adds about 5 miles per hour of charging with Li-ion batteries. You can put on 40 miles during an 8 hour workday.

ggpa

Chargepoint is a great network, I have used it many times. Their business model is great for them.

They do not own the EVSEs in their network, they sell the level 2 EVSEs for $7000 each and charge a management fee after that. That is pretty sweet.

And that is why they are constantly inciting others to install EVSEs.

Many folks would love to have such a great gig.

Nelson

It great now BUT what happens when Tesla covers the country with Free Supercharging Stations and the Model III rolls out? Oh, and if other manufactures decide to participate with Tesla and help build out the network what then? I don’t see many ChargePoint owners wanting to pay $20/month at that point.

NPNS! SBF!
Volt#671

Mike I

The Tesla Supercharger network will never completely replace the need for destomatopm L2 charging. Tesla knows this. I would choose L2 charging where I’m already going to park over an extra stop at a Supercharger every single time. There will always be that opportunity, regardless of how thoroughly Tesla blankets the country with Superchargers.

Mike I

wow. so much for touch typing without proofing. “destination L2 charging”

Francisco

The need for L2 destination charging will drop to nearly zero once the cars have enough battery to truly serve our needs as ICE cars do. In other words, once they have as much battery as a Tesla does right now.

It’s not just Tesla, but as PEV battery pack capacities increase, in general there will be less need for public and workplace “destination charging”. With averages US driver traveling 30-40 miles per day a PEV already makes sense for many … a PEV with 100-120 mile range means an even large percentage of the population can drive an PEV using only home charging.

As PEV range increases, owners will use their EVs more, many becoming primary vehicles. This will increase the need for “enroute charging”. (Fast MPH range charging, to minimize pause in enroute travel)

Leptoquark

“make sure the station is in a convenient location for drivers to access”

True, but don’t put them in prime parking spots, otherwise you’re just asking for ICE’ing. A general rule might be put them no closer than half way in between the choicest parking spot and the worst parking spot. As an EV driver, I would prefer having to walk a little extra from a non-ICE’ed spot, than to have to deal with a perpetually ICE’d spot “near the door”.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Or, establish a tow bounty, whereby the reporter of a legit tow gets like $20, and the property owner and tower split the rest.

ElectricRocketShip

+5
I will gladly walk a little more to have a non-ICE’d EVSE access.

Anon

Non-ICE’d AND away from swinging car doors and incidental scratching contact, ideally. I like the choice made at a store nearby that’s up against the side of the building, so a short run for the wiring, but it’s on the side of the building furthest away from the door, so not a ton of traffic.

DNAinaGoodWay

L1 at work (or any long term situation) is all you need for a PIP or CMax or Volt, etc.

Good signage is important.

A higher price fee, starting half an hour after charging stops, will help keep those spots open.

Mike I

Target stores have also had very good results from “first 2 hours free” then an hourly fee.

So many better ideas that were left out of this: 1. Charge a little money, yes. But also consider charging a LOT more after 4 hours. Most EVs can gt a full charge in 4 hours, even if they show up empty. This pricing will discourage those who tie up a station all day long even at the $1/hour or similarly cheap rates. I know of one site that charges $0.85/hour for the first four hours and then skyrockets to $20/hour. Will THAT will get you to move? 🙂 2. Locate the parking spaces AWAY from the most convenient spot, like in the BACK of the parking lot, unless you are prepared to properly enforce the EV spots, and deal with the inevitable hostility from ICE owners. EV owners will happily walk a few extra seconds for the amenity. 3. Expanding on the concept of serving more than one car at a time, locate each plug BETWEEN multiple spots, so that users can self-organize and move plugs around as they complete their charging. That means TWO spots reachable by EACH cord, not two spots reachable by a dual-plug pedestal. Space the chargers out more! 4. Gee, can you tell this… Read more »

2. Makes sense on on a usability basis but not on a installation/cost basis. I have talked to electricians who installed our city’s EVSEs and they said to locate them in back of parking lots would cost dramatically more due to dredging and cabling costs. Most companies will do what is easier and cheaper.

Mike I

Yes, but around the side of the building would likely be even cheaper than out front. However, you don’t score “green points” putting it where very few people see it. You can’t discount the value companies put on green-washing, purely for PR value.

Station placement is as much art as science. Trenching or directional boring can be very expensive, so Rule #1 is place the EVSEs in a cost effective spot. Other factors to consider include reducing the potential for ICEing, the ability to reach multiple spaces, cellular connectivity, shading, lighting, flooding, ADA, etc. Each case is unique and requires a careful balancing of each of the above factors.

scott franco
L1 An L1 free charge at parking garages, hotels, and workplaces makes sense, but only if you install them by the 10s or 100s. I have yet to see this done correctly even once. Installing one or two of them in public and/or charging for their use is worse than useless. Public charging for L1s is only good where there is an all day or overnight stay. L2 Installing 1 to 10 L2s in a parking garage and charging is the prevailing model here. It works, it gets people to move, and a hour or so shopping trip is sufficient to gain significant charge for the trip home. Charging more than home electricity for workplace chargers tends to leave them unoccupied, as most folks will then try to make the round trip on one charge, but that leaves workplace chargers for emergencies and lunchtime outings. As the author says, free L2s at work with the typical shortages we see result in a “first come first serve” model with people camping on the chargers. L3 This used to be great to find in public, but now they are charging $5 and $10 for them, and it is flat rate, so often… Read more »

Two most important points that should be #1 & #2 on a “Guide to EVSE Station Owners”:

1. Access: 24/7 access to public charging, without membership restrictions. “Access” goes beyond the EVSE hardware and needs to include timely data on the operational status of the station.
2. Reliability: multipe dispensors, so at least one charge dispenser operational at all times for the level of service the station provides.

An oversight this article makes is lumping all PEVs together when considering public charging. The public charging needs and usage patterns of AEVs (All-Electric Vehicles) differ from PHEVs and EREVs (Plugin Hybrids and Extended Range EVs). AEVs typically have ability to charge to 80% in ~30 min using DC Fast Charging while most PHEVs and EREVs do not.

While all PEVs will use AC charging for “destination charging”, AEVs need DCFC for “enroute charging”. PHEVs and EREVs have the option of using gas vs. electric “enroute charging”, or choosing to make a trip with multiple shorter trips of multiple enroute destinations (to allow for longer charging time).

ffbj

What about a circular charging island, with arms like an octopus, with the capability of charging
8 vehicles at a time. Don’t about the practicality of that, just a thought.

Mike I

Installing in the center of 4 regular spaces works very well in conventional parking lots with back to back aisles. Even 1 EVSE per 4 spaces is sufficient and it probably reduces or eliminates the need to dedicate the parking to EV charging only. In many retail environments spaces turn over fast enough that even if completely ICE’d, an EV could wait a reasonable time for one of the spaces to become available. In a workplace environment, an ideal situation would be an EVSE with a lockable handle where you cannot remove the charge cable from the vehicle until the charge is complete or the original access card is swiped again. This would allow modified behavior where unplugging would be encouraged because the charge would have to be complete before stranger disconnect. It would also reduce the lost productivity from employees having to move their cars after charging is completed.

Lensman

A level 1 charger makes sense in workplace parking lots, where people will park for 4 or 8-1/2 hours at a time, or even longer. And that will be equally true for curbside parking in residential areas, where people will park overnight.

I do agree with the article that it makes a lot less sense where people are actually going to be charged a fee for charging. For that, you really should have a level 2 or better charger.

EV Fan

I don’t public charge very much, but I’m a bit confused. The only public EVSE’s I’ve used have a fee only while the car is actively charging – once the car stops charging, there is no more fee.
There are some parking spots/garages that charge by the hour, but it is not billed through the EVSE/charging network.
Are there EVSE’s out there the charge your account whenever the plug is connected to the car whether it is actually charging or not?

ElectricRocketShip

Several of the Blink Network’s L2 stations continue to bill by the hour until you disconnect. They say it is to discourage users from staying longer than is needed.

I think it is generally a good idea. Now, if only there was a way to charge those that ICE a spot.

Michael Sais
The following is a copy of a letter that I sent to the CEO of TravelCenters of America proposing chargers in their locations. I never got a response from them or from Flying J. ————————————————- May 14, 2014 Thomas M. O’Brien President & Chief Executive Officer TravelCenters of America LLC 24601 Center Ridge Road Suite 200 Westlake, OH 44145 Dear Sir, The reason I am writing to you is because I am an owner of a Tesla Model S (an electric car) and I consider TA Travel Centers a leading provider of fuel and services to motorist and professional drivers within the continental United States. In addition to my electric car, I have standard gasoline cars, and I have utilized your travel centers for both fuel and dining services. In all occasions, the services at TA Travel Centers has been excellent. As an owner of an electric car, long distance travel is limited by the availability of fast and convenient methods of charging the vehicle along the national highway system. Tesla Motor Company is in the process of reducing these concerns for Tesla owners by building a network of supercharging stations. This network will not be completed well into 2015,… Read more »
ElectricRocketShip

Great idea! I think you should add that they are missing out on a sales opportunity.

In the Nashville area, Nissan has partnered with MAPCO, an area gas station chain, to provide L3 (CHAdeMO) equipment. It is extremely handy, and virtually every time I stop to use one, I purchase a drink or snack from the store.

Nate

The salesperson that I bought my Volt from is a Volt owner to. He charged at his work using a standard outlet that was on a lamp post using the evse that came with his car. I think all EV’s come with a 110/120 evse right? How hard would it be to add standard outlets to each lamp posts in workplace parking lots around office buildings? It seems like that would be way less than adding L2 spots. If it came down to having a bunch of L1 spots vs. a few L2 spots I’d rather have a bunch of L1 spots for people in situations where the car is going to be sitting all day anyway.

As others have said, Level 1 actually has better suitability (and affordability) to “station owners” at hotels, airports, train stations, commuter lots, etc. and of course at residences. Places where time is not an issue and likely a vehicle will not be moved and therefore actually tie up the spot for 8+ hours. As the whole idea of charging (“stations”) is as much a barrier to adoption as it can be a driver, proponents have to be careful about discounting the value of 8 to 12 amp 110 volt charging (with language like “Honestly, level 1 charging doesn’t make much sense…”) Enough of the public still believes in order to adopt an electric car, they need “charging station” installed at home (or worse yet, think they have to drive to one every time to charge and wait) so excluding Level 1’s reality and benefits from the discussion only hurts or slows adoption, in the end. Speaking from someone who charged overnight again last night from just ~5 miles range remaining to full, and at the lower 8 amp setting. 🙂 There will still be plenty of L2 opportunities for Chargepoint and others! (but I understand where they are coming from… Read more »