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EV Public Charging Cost, Availability & Policy

The last time I wrote about public charging, I was commenting on one of the very few charging stations and how I was the only one using it.  The mass market EV was still very new and less than a thousand Leafs and Volts had sold at that point across the country.  Today however, with cumulative EV sales in the tens of thousands we are starting to see more and more public charging stations deployed, but just an observation from the cheap seats, they don’t all appear to be in the most useful or accessible locations, or for some policy reason just aren’t providing the benefit that they could be.

Case in point, the Oakland Airport Parking lot has about a dozen Chargepoint Level 2 Charging stations.  Fantastic!  We can get a charge while travelling!  Not so fantastic – it’s in the Premium only lot.  You know the one that charges $32 per DAY to park.  Given that a Volt can take on about 10 Kw-h of electricity and a Leaf, on the upper end about 18-20 Kw-h of electricity, even at a relatively expensive electricity rate of $0.30 per Kw-h, you are only looking at putting about $3.00 of electricity into your car while parking at a $32 / per day lot!  Below I have some pictures describing just the economics at play.



We see in the Premium EV Parking spaces, 3 utilized all Leafs, though I have seen on other days a Plug in Prius (which makes even less sense to pay $32 / day to charge given its relatively small pack.  And low and behold, I found a Leaf in the “Daily” lot (only $22 / day) parked with EV charging.  I myself did the same thing and parked in the Daily lot.  The cost just doesn’t make sense.

To me this is just a policy failure.  A company or business can spend a great deal to install and promote these EV charging stations and then you make them to be economically unfeasible by ratcheting up the price to park there.  (I’d rather burn gas!)  This seems to go against the grain of making Public EV Charging available so as to displace more gasoline consumption.  Granted, you get the benefits of a short walk to the terminal and a fast pass at the security line, but it hardly seems worth it.

What’s more, other companies with EV Charging stations have been locking them down see my Charge-Blocked post at the Google campus, so that they are not accessible to the public.  Sometimes this makes sense if you have the parking spaces only for fleet vehicles, but most of the time it seems like these charging stations are just idle when they could take another legitimate EV.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of well places charging stations in downtown city garages and at shopping centers.  I’d love to see more at movie theaters as you actually spend enough time there to pick up a significant charge.  But as we see the EV charging infrastructure roll out I can’t but think there seem to be some pretty boneheaded placements for chargers.

Have a “suboptimally placed” charging station story?  Share it here!

2 Responses to “EV Public Charging Cost, Availability & Policy”

  1. Victor says:

    Hi Patrick. Good write up. I totally agree that the airport scenario doesn’t make sense at all. I guess if money was no object? I just take public transit to the airport anyway.

    What I’ve seen in Southern California is mixed. Some stations are in good locations, but many are poorly marked, and subject to frequent ICE’ing. For instance, they’re commonly placed as the first spaces after the handicapped spots. Everyone wants to park close, so they’re always ICE’d. When complaining to management I generally find that there is a severe disconnect between whomever installed the chargers and the people working at the location. More than once I’ve seen surprised looks with “oh, is that what those are for?” comments.

    I end up using public charging at least once a week. So yes, it works for me. I hope it gets better, so it’s encouraging for locations to install chargers and not see them unused. My wife and I actually weigh in charging stations when we choose where to go out or take our business when shopping.

  2. row wilson says:

    How about the GM engineering building in Oshawa, Ontario Canada, where there are 3 ‘green’ painted parking spaces in front of ONE charge station/plug. Doesn’t make too much sense to me. Of course the plug was being used when I parked in one of the availabe green spaces.

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