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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:20 pm

JPWhite wrote:
pkulak wrote:It has seemed accurate to me lately. As in, most say they are inoperable on the map.


Blink / Carcharging have clearly made some back-end improvements. The dashboard for instance renders much more quickly, station status tends to be updated quickly.

However the state of units in the field, (although initially improved after the purchase of Blink by Carcharging), has deteriorated once again, with units going un-serviced 2+ months after a case being established/acknowledged by customer support. They don't seem to send out maintenance crews very often or at all from what I can tell.

Judging by their financial losses and poor field maintenance, they are looking very much like Blink did before they declared bankruptcy. Maybe Car-charging can generate some private funding to keep them going where Ecotality couldn't.

Reflecting on what initially looks like a suicidal pricing structure, I've come to the conclusion they may not be as crazy as it first appears they are. One thing that may save them is "no charge to charge". It maybe that revenues from individual members may not be their primary focus anymore. CarCharging maybe raising prices to get more money faster, mostly out of the Nissan "no charge to charge" program. They may be able to shore up their balance sheet in the short term and sellout before they implode. No charge to charge could keep them limping along for 2+ years.

As I mentioned above, at least at my local chargers they seem to have made considerable improvements in reliability - for the first 9-10 months there always seemed to be one or two out of order, and sometimes as many as five. Course, it took considerable nagging by me and possibly others to get them to come out and fix the units that were inop, but considering how few were ever needed at the same time maybe it made short-term financial sense, if not doing anything for their reputation.

That being said, it would be pretty curious if they could find someone to sell out to, unless they've upgraded the units internally so that the have become more reliable. You'd think anyone would do due diligence before buying them out, but then the same logic should have applied to Car Charging re Ecotality, so maybe history will repeat itself.
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Slow1
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:42 pm

All this discussion seems to further my opinion that the future of EV charging likely will be almost fully home based charging with well placed QC stations (that will have a cost likely near or above premium gas costs/mile) that can be used by those going on long road trips only.

I base this on my analysis of the cost to install chargers and the estimated payback time for the same. Unless you charge enough for their use AND have the volume (regular use) they will never cover installation costs much less make any company a profit. So if you 'charge enough' to pay for these things, folks who can avoid their use will - thus charging at home being more desirable. Once the minimum BEV range is around 200 miles I expect local use charging stations will become novelties - gone the way of the buggy whips.

Perhaps the pressure to at least break even is pushing Blink to move in this direction. My prediction is that the successful charging chain/company will be those that provide DCQC stations situated to be used by those traveling more miles (i.e. rest areas) and not the companies trying to install many smaller L2 stations in 'general public' areas.
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Pipcecil
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:28 am

JPWhite wrote:Reflecting on what initially looks like a suicidal pricing structure, I've come to the conclusion they may not be as crazy as it first appears they are. One thing that may save them is "no charge to charge". It maybe that revenues from individual members may not be their primary focus anymore. CarCharging maybe raising prices to get more money faster, mostly out of the Nissan "no charge to charge" program. They may be able to shore up their balance sheet in the short term and sellout before they implode. No charge to charge could keep them limping along for 2+ years.


You know, I never considered that and you are probably 100% right on that. People under the no charge to charge program are going to charge willy-nilly because its free. Nissan will be paying for it (at a much higher rate), and, I am betting most people would have never reached the maximum amount on the program but may under this new pricing scheme. It really looks like CarCharging is getting Nissan to pay for its expenses with how the program will work. CarCharging really doesn't seem to car about its regular older users.

Unfortunately, on the flip side, Nissan is the ONLY company doing this. CarCharging is still alienating all the PHEVs (mostly Volts and PiPs based on numbers) and from the reports produced by the charging companies themselves, PHEVs make up the majority of charging events at stations. I guess the figured the price hike was enough to just exist on Nissan no charge to charge and if anyone else would actually use the stations not on the program, it was just gravy.
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mkjayakumar
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:51 am

I am quite disappointed at those who complain the new higher pricing structure. Given that 90%+ of our charging happens at home at low prices, why would this occasional, convenience charging at a higher - gasoline equivalent - prices are such a burden ?

Flip this over and imagine a situation where gasoline is pumped to your car in your garage overnight for $0.70/gallon and you only pay $3.50 when you drive long distances. Would any of us complain about that?
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:07 am

mkjayakumar wrote:I am quite disappointed at those who complain the new higher pricing structure. Given that 90%+ of our charging happens at home at low prices, why would this occasional, convenience charging at a higher - gasoline equivalent - prices are such a burden ?

Flip this over and imagine a situation where gasoline is pumped to your car in your garage overnight for $0.70/gallon and you only pay $3.50 when you drive long distances. Would any of us complain about that?


I wouldn't mind if there system was reliable and I could COUNT ON IT when I need to extend my range further. As it stands if I want to extend my range, I plan around QCing and IF there is a level 2, hopefully skip the QC. I got burned with trying to rely on Blink - website showed all up and yet all stations were blinking and erroring out - awesome. And the ICEing is horrible too. Its just too unreliable. So from this perspective I would use them to save me time from waiting on QC or to support a business. Now I will use neither, why do it?

But, some of us (my wife and I) use them more than once a week. Me, everyday at work and her twice a week at school. At one point, before I was eligible for a replacement battery, I HAD to charge at work just to make it home (55 miles round trip). And if I want to do any errands after work I need to charge as well (even on my new battery). For use everyday (or almost everyday) users this is a huge slap in the face. I know public charging will be more expensive, but at the rate of an 18 mpg truck cost on gas? Really? Seriously? When everyone else charges LESS and still not gone bankrupt and can keep themselves profitable makes me think CarCharging is as messed up as blink was.

Not to mention, charging stations are being utilized as an air quality benefit, especially during conformity approvals with FHWA for non-attainment areas. We use the infrastructure (as well as most metro areas now) as a program to reduce air pollution. If less people are using then stations, FHWA might not allow the use of it or give us less weight for air quality benefits when using it. This will cost governments more money as we will have to find other programs to reduce air pollution. Trust me, my work (transportation government - an MPO) is very worried about this. More money for air quality conformity plans means either more money need (via taxes or fees) or, more likely less roadway improvements over the next 25 year horizon. This is not a joke. CarCharging is mucking things up more than they know. We are already doing analysis on how much less charging will occur, how this will amount to alternative ICE cars being used or PHEVs opting for gas versus charging.
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Slow1
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:29 am

Pipcecil wrote:Not to mention, charging stations are being utilized as an air quality benefit, especially during conformity approvals with FHWA for non-attainment areas. We use the infrastructure (as well as most metro areas now) as a program to reduce air pollution. If less people are using then stations, FHWA might not allow the use of it or give us less weight for air quality benefits when using it. This will cost governments more money as we will have to find other programs to reduce air pollution. Trust me, my work (transportation government - an MPO) is very worried about this. More money for air quality conformity plans means either more money need (via taxes or fees) or, more likely less roadway improvements over the next 25 year horizon. This is not a joke. CarCharging is mucking things up more than they know. We are already doing analysis on how much less charging will occur, how this will amount to alternative ICE cars being used or PHEVs opting for gas versus charging.


Interesting problem. So, if I'm understanding you correctly, the mere presence of charging stations is being used as evidence of air quality improvements? So the concern here is that non-use will decrease the perceived value to the air quality improvements and money will be lost... Hmm... It seems to me that the air quality improvements come from more EVs being used in the affected area - charging stations may or may not increase this, but shouldn't the programs measure actual EV usage? I realize it would be harder (have to go survey/count the vehicles to see what is happening). Then the money could be allocated based on actual improvements - charging stations may only be one part of the solution leading to the desired outcome (presumable more EVs being used leading to cleaner air).

I wonder - would the presence of EV preferred parking in key areas (always available for example) perhaps have as much impact on encouraging EV usage? In other words, I wonder if the money could be better spent on creating/enforcing available EV parking (as a perk for being clean) vs installing a lower number of charging stations around the area (and thus fewer parking spaces)... I wonder how many folks 'charge' merely to get the parking benefit as it is (seems that would be the case for many PIP drivers...). Certainly there are a lot of folks moving to EVs for the HOV lane benefits in CA so clearly such "perks" do impact behavior...
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JPWhite
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:38 am

mkjayakumar wrote:I am quite disappointed at those who complain the new higher pricing structure. Given that 90%+ of our charging happens at home at low prices, why would this occasional, convenience charging at a higher - gasoline equivalent - prices are such a burden ?


The problem with the price hike is that it will reinforce charge at home day to day and use public charging only when you have to. I'd like to see public charging utilized more for extending day to day activities, not just for once in a while jaunts out of town.

This coming Thursday I will need to do some extra miles (not a trip, simply a diversion), I will carefully calculate when I arrive at the Holiday Inn if I can squeak home on the remaining charge or not, rather than top it off to be sure. In the past I've always topped off since the fee for a 3-4 of hours isn't much and it does support the network (now I will be looking at spending $10 or more, the charge is normally finished within 90 minutes the extra time simply 'attached' will make it expensive). So instead, on the drive home I will have to keep a close eye on my speed and remaining charge, something I haven't had to do for that monthly meeting.

Increased fees to the extent they have gone to discourages topping off.
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:40 am

mkjayakumar wrote:I am quite disappointed at those who complain the new higher pricing structure. Given that 90%+ of our charging happens at home at low prices, why would this occasional, convenience charging at a higher - gasoline equivalent - prices are such a burden ?

Flip this over and imagine a situation where gasoline is pumped to your car in your garage overnight for $0.70/gallon and you only pay $3.50 when you drive long distances. Would any of us complain about that?


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JPWhite
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:45 am

Slow1 wrote: I wonder how many folks 'charge' merely to get the parking benefit as it is (seems that would be the case for many PIP drivers...).



Funny you should mention that. I met a Volt driver who was plugging up recently. I told him the station he was about to use had a fault and he may want to move over to the next available space. Nah... he said, I really just wanted the parking space. Apparently moving his car over a space after he'd got out was too much trouble.
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Slow1
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Re: Blink changes billing model for public charging

Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:49 am

JPWhite wrote:
Slow1 wrote: I wonder how many folks 'charge' merely to get the parking benefit as it is (seems that would be the case for many PIP drivers...).


Funny you should mention that. I met a Volt driver who was plugging up recently. I told him the station he was about to use had a fault and he may want to move over to the next available space. Nah... he said, I really just wanted the parking space. Apparently moving his car over a space after he'd got out was too much trouble.


I imagine this happens far more often than folks care to admit. Which, of course, is my point. IF one wants to encourage the behavior of driving EVs in a given area, give EV drivers a perk that they appreciate. Sprinkling a few charging stations (at a cost or not) may have a smaller effect than putting a larger number of parking spaces available or cheaper than what ICE vehicles can use. Most poor air quality areas have tight parking (at least that has been my impression) so this may just do the trick eh? Certainly would have a lower cost to roll-out and then perhaps adjust (i.e. remove) later - should just be cost of painting/signage and enforcement (that could be revenue generating to ticket ICEd spots...).
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