Why the Gas Station Isn’t a Model for Electric Cars
In the future, says Pasquale Romano of ChargePoint, vehicles will simply charge their batteries where they park
Optimism surrounding electric cars has swelled with the launch of Tesla Inc.’s $35,000 Model 3 sedan, but there are plenty of obstacles on the road to mass adoption.
One of the biggest hurdles is infrastructure. In a nation where there is a gas station on every corner, finding a car charger that works and is open for use can be a scavenger hunt. A public network of chargers is evolving, but it’s tough to catch up to gasoline, which can be purchased at 168,000 filling stations nationwide.
Pasquale Romano, chief executive of ChargePoint Inc., is working to change views on what the charging network of the future will look like. [The Campbell, Calif., company has 39,000 charging spots set up in garages, parking lots, apartments and other locations, with several hundred of them capable of so-called DC express charging, which can provide 200 miles of charge in an hour for cars currently on the road and promises much faster fill-ups as car batteries become more advanced.
The 51-year-old Mr. Romano says copying the gas-station model is a mistake. “That’s just an artifact of the fuel choice that we’ve used for the last 100 years,” he says. As electric vehicles become capable of going further on a single charge, drivers increasingly will be able to simply plug in at home or work, minimizing the need for roadside depots that sell everything from lottery tickets to diesel...
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Pasquale Romano of chargepoint is missing the point, IMO, when he says "vehicles will simply charge their batteries where they park".
And that is because he (and many others) don't seem to understand the reality of the primary reason why drivers and passengers get out of their cars during long road trips, quite often for only about the same short time it takes to pick up some kWh at a high kW rate.
The gas station is not a model for public DC because that's where you buy gas.
But they are a major part of the really important public infrastructure network travelers require, and the right model we should be considering when developing the DC infrastructure, public toilets.
In short, in the future, vehicles will simply charge their batteries where the passengers stop to pee.
When was the last time you pulled off the freeway on a long trip and stopped at a business, where there was not a restroom?
The reason virtually every gas station/mini-mart, restaurant, fast-food joint and coffee shop at that freeway exit has public restrooms, at great expense, and producing no revenue at all, is to attract customers to their other revenue-producing products and services.
Of course, McDonald's future DC charge sites will not be free, like it is now to leave your deposit in its restroom.
You will always pay for the charge, but whether kWh sales are a profit center (like the artificially-flavored-diluted-corn-sweetener-dispensers, also located almost every where you stop) or a loss-leader (much more likely, IMO) will depend on local competitive conditions.