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New Blink Chargers Installed at Work : Nobody's using them

12750 Views 38 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  soylentgreen
Where I work, the facilities plant had installed a few spots 120VAC plugs with signs saying "for EV charging only". They were generally all taken up by the time I got there: e.g. nearly 100% utilization rate.

Recently, they "upgraded" : there are now twice as many spots, each with a Blink Level 2 charger. I have yet to see anyone charging. Utilization rate now : near 0%. Even the LEAFs aren't using them.

The reasons?
* Too expensive: $2/hour for guests, "only" $1/hour for Blink members. That's more expensive than Gasoline.
* Time limit: they put a 4 hour limit on the spots. Not everyone at this place works 8 hour days, but a lot do, and some work 10-12 hour days

Sigh.

I emailed parking services to give them this feedback. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.
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How sad. As soon as I saw the Blink charging fee rate, I already foresaw that nobody (including pure BEV) are going to use those public Blink L2 stations at that rate unless they're really in a bind. If they need to, I bet they'd seek out nearby pay-fee DCFC stations first (if they have the QC port) before anybody would bother with the L2 Blink stations, unless they're free.

It's just going to be a matter of time before Blink has to do something about it or else they're going to go bankrupt.
 

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At least the charger stations are not on the blink.


— on the blink
: in or into a disabled or useless condition <the TV is on the blink>


This non-use issue will be an advantage when an BEV driver really needs a charge.
 

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This non-use issue will be an advantage when an BEV driver really needs a charge.
Of course it's not an issue, but the point of this whole post is that it's ironic that all this infrastructure is put in place to promote EVs and the ability to charge in public and be independent from gas has been torpedoed by the high cost of charging they put in place.
 

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That's how the "free" market works. Unfortunately, the people who install these often seem to ignore potential customers when making their decisions.

Did they survey any of the people using the 120V outlets before making their investment and product pricing?
 

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The Volt driver has the advantage of comparing prices of fuel and electricity before purchase. The BEV driver is stuck using the charger, even if it costs more than the TOU rate at home. Since the Leaf and Tesla can use the 30 amps of current, their per minute cost is less than the Volt at 12.5 amps. Blink and ChargePoint need to sell power based on kWh used, not the number of minutes. This would add customers and make "cents" for everyone.
 

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I've been engaging in a continuous string of conversations with parking managers, city planners, power company reps, and business owners. Almost all of them seem to shrug off the suggestion that a simple 120v outlet is all that's needed. They seem convinced that EVs require expensive charging stations that cost a lot of money to operate. This results in replies like "We just don't have that kind of money in the budget." before I can even suggest simply allowing access to 120v outlets that are already installed. One parking manager actually told me "we just don't have any suitable place to install the chargers" while he was standing 4 feet from an outlet at the head of a parking stall. I couldn't convince him that there is NOTHING to install. Just unlock the little plastic outlet cover and put a simple "EV Parking Only" sign beside the outlet. Install complete! When I suggested he charge an extra $20 per month for a parking spot with an unlocked outlet cover, he still didn't seem to understand that there is NOTHING else required. Mumbled something about need to hire electricians and separate metering for electric use for extreme power consumption. I got the impression he thinks the car uses $300 per month in electricity. I would love to show him the math from my onstar charging logs that proves I'd only use $8 per month at the commercial power rates they pay, but I'm afraid that would just make his head explode. Considering how many lights this 1200 stall parking garage runs 24/7 and the 480v power that runs the 4 elevators and all the electric climate control systems for each elevator lobby, I don't think a few EVs charging would even be noticed on their power bill.

On the flip side, I actually had one guy from the power company (which owns a Volt in their "test fleet") agree that pay-per-use high power charging stations would be an economical disaster, but he was the only one who actually had experience with a Volt and understands L1 charging. Fortunately, he's also in contact with the city parking planners and promised to carry the warning against high-dollar charging stations to the meetings. The wheels aren't turning very fast, but at least they are starting to turn...
 

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I got the impression he thinks the car uses $300 per month in electricity.
A few years ago a public employee was "busted" in a major news scoop for plugging in his Volt to city-owned outlets. He had to face a firing squad in a city council meeting. When he informed them that he plugged in only after prepaying the city $1.50 or so per day (confirmed by the facilities manager), the city council grew very quiet and quickly moved on to new business.

The average person has no idea how cheap it is to fill up with electricity. They think it costs as much as gas.
 

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I thought the Free Binks card ( with your credit card on file ) was Still 1$ ?
 

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I thought the Free Binks card ( with your credit card on file ) was Still 1$ ?
Yes, you can get the Blink card for free, but that only lets you access Blink charging stations. To be able to charge, you'd have to pay $2/hr if you have the free card but no Blink membership. If you sign up for their membership (free in 2013 but will be $30 afterward), then you'd pay a discount rate of $1/hr.

It takes about 4 hours to fully charge the Volt to go about 40 miles ($4 in electricity cost using the Blink L2 station). A gallon of gas will also let your Volt go about 40 miles on gas and doesn't require 4 hours of charging. Right now a gallon of gas is around $3.60 where I live. Cheaper than the $4 charging fee.
 

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This non-use issue will be an advantage when an BEV driver really needs a charge.
I'm with Mark on this. What you've discovered is that none of those people NEEDED to charge. They are able to charge at home, off-peak, which seems like a better solution. Maybe someone who lives outside the comfortable round trip distance of an EV will now be willing to get one because he knows he'll be able to charge.

They would have accomplished the same thing by just charging some nominal fee for using the outlets and saved themselves thousands on the chargers.
 

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They would have accomplished the same thing by just charging some nominal fee for using the outlets and saved themselves thousands on the chargers.
Bingo. And for most cases it could be like $20 a month payroll deduction (as a non-taxable fringe benefit) And neither the commuter nor the employer would likely give a rodent's posterior the actual kWh was consumed on any given day,they'd just be happy a simple and equitable solution to provide this less-than-buck-day green transportation benefit is provided.
 

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* Time limit: they put a 4 hour limit on the spots. Not everyone at this place works 8 hour days, but a lot do, and some work 10-12 hour days.
I'm a little confused by this statement; could you elaborate? You make this sound like a bad thing? For a Volt owner this is good. For example; in my Volt it only takes 3.5 hours to charge from empty to full with L2 but Blink rounds up to 4 hours. If I stay plugged in they will keep billing me, so I WANT to unplug anyway. For other EV's with different SOC and charge rates this 4 hour time limit could be a bother, but at least it gives more people an opportunity to get some juice; that is assuming anybody wanted some;)

Anyway, I'm in the same situation at my work place (I created a similar thread here recently); a little worse actually as until they installed the 7 new Blinks I (we) could charge with L1 for free (even though we offered to pay)! Now, due to the the high Blink rates I, choose to drive home on gas (others can make it RT on EV). I hate it, especially after 7 months of driving almost 98% on EV but it just does not make sense to pay extra to run on EV.

There are 3 Volts and one Leaf here, none of us has, or intends to use the new Blinks until the rates are reduced....BOYCOTT!
 

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My ex employer had a set of Blinks, I would occasionally grab an hour off them just to not use gas on the 54 mile round trip. It was PITA to run out and move however, I usually waited to grab a tad about an hour before I planned on leaving. A couple times I got held up for a few minutes and got burn on the Blinks $1 for any part of an hour.

There were a couple of Leafs at that job, the funny part was they would use the EV parking but not plug in, I really had to complain about that as they were in the covered private area (important in Phoenix). I even came out and looked at one, he had the cord under the front of the car so from the rear it looked plugged in.

Eventually Ecotality will get the hint.
 

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The Volt driver has the advantage of comparing prices of fuel and electricity before purchase. The BEV driver is stuck using the charger, even if it costs more than the TOU rate at home. Since the Leaf and Tesla can use the 30 amps of current, their per minute cost is less than the Volt at 12.5 amps. Blink and ChargePoint need to sell power based on kWh used, not the number of minutes. This would add customers and make "cents" for everyone.
I have a Volt customer who works for the local electric utility, and while he too agrees it would be a good thing for Blink to charge by the KWH, he says that is illegal; only electric utilities can sell KWH's!
 

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Of course it's not an issue, but the point of this whole post is that it's ironic that all this infrastructure is put in place to promote EVs and the ability to charge in public and be independent from gas has been torpedoed by the high cost of charging they put in place.
That's why there's Volt. GM's been down this road before. Bleep 'em if they can't take a joke, LOL.
 

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I'm with Mark on this. What you've discovered is that none of those people NEEDED to charge. They are able to charge at home, off-peak, which seems like a better solution.
Maybe true for pure EVs but not true for plug-in EVs like the Volt.

Volt owners may need to charge more often if they want to avoid using gas (because they have less range than pure EVs), but they choose not to because it doesn't make economic sense and instead opt to burn gas because it's cheaper. In this scenario, it defeats the purpose of promoting a greener environment as well as weaning off our dependency on gasoline.

Even for pure EV owners, the same may apply. A reasonable charging fee may opt them to consider using their EV to go outside of their EV range. But an unreasonable charging fee may preclude them from thinking about doing it altogether and simply just take their gas cars for the trip.

The purpose of public charging stations shouldn't solely be for the purpose of serving those who NEED them. It should be for the purpose of promoting/enabling more widely use of EVs on electrons instead of gas.
 
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