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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided to start a dialogue about how we can more effectively plan and implement a public charging infrastructure that will actually support widespread electric vehicle adoption.

The first (and most important) key infrastructure implementation is, in my opinion, building banks of DC fast chargers at grocery stores. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Sure, it would be very nice if Grocery stores as well as Home Depot, Lowe's, Menard's and Wall-Mart all had level 2 chargers.
How to get them to do so is an unanswered question. I know some of these have Level 1 but for the length of time it takes to get 10 miles of charge, it is hardly worth using. I'm not going to be there long enough.
Heck, even on the few occasions when I charge at the mall, I don't get a full charge, but at least it is Level 2 and it gives a decent level of charge. If they were all over, we could hip, hop from store to store. Having said that, I mostly charge at home.
 

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Sure, it would be very nice if Grocery stores as well as Home Depot, Lowe's, Menard's and Wall-Mart all had level 2 chargers.
How to get them to do so is an unanswered question. I know some of these have Level 1 but for the length of time it takes to get 10 miles of charge, it is hardly worth using. I'm not going to be there long enough.
Heck, even on the few occasions when I charge at the mall, I don't get a full charge, but at least it is Level 2 and it gives a decent level of charge. If they were all over, we could hip, hop from store to store. Having said that, I mostly charge at home.
I tend to think even high end level 2 charging isn't really worth it for a 30 minute stop at a store. As the OP suggested, DCFC is a whole different story - though for the current majority that charge mostly at home, I'm not sure it's really needed either. It might be really useful for all the apartment dwellers that don't have an easy way to plug at home or work...
 

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New DCFC installations should be prioritized to include:

1) Interstate highway system rest stops and visitor centers
2) Airport parking lots and parking garages
3) Outlet malls
4) State parks and recreation areas
5) Stuckey's Restaurants and Candy Shops
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sure, it would be very nice if Grocery stores as well as Home Depot, Lowe's, Menard's and Wall-Mart all had level 2 chargers.
How to get them to do so is an unanswered question. I know some of these have Level 1 but for the length of time it takes to get 10 miles of charge, it is hardly worth using. I'm not going to be there long enough.
Heck, even on the few occasions when I charge at the mall, I don't get a full charge, but at least it is Level 2 and it gives a decent level of charge. If they were all over, we could hip, hop from store to store. Having said that, I mostly charge at home.
I'm actually speaking specifically about DC fast charging here. I do like the idea of having L2 available at most sites, but that is a different topic. And I don't think that grocery stores are the appropriate location. Most grocery stores do not want people (even customers) loitering in the parking lot for extended periods of time.

Also, I don't like the idea of building DC fast charging at retail shopping sites because those are not the types of venues that local people are already required to visit and spend time at regularly. The point here is to maximize convenience for pure battery electric vehicle owners. Especially those for whom home or work charging isn't possible.

That is one of my criticisms about Tesla's current Supercharger build out program. They seem to be putting very little thought into the specific sites themselves, instead looking at things purely from a 30,000 foot perspective. "Oh, there's a gap in the network over here. Let's put a Supercharger site there!" Locally, they put 20 of their 72 kW "urban" chargers just off a freeway on/off ramp next to coffee shops and fast food. Up the road about 10 miles, they put in about the same number of 150 kW Superchargers next to a shopping plaza with multiple grocery stores and a gym. The implementations seem to lack any sort of thought about the use cases of those who would rely on the chargers.
 

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That is one of my criticisms about Tesla's current Supercharger build out program. They seem to be putting very little thought into the specific sites themselves, instead looking at things purely from a 30,000 foot perspective. "Oh, there's a gap in the network over here. Let's put a Supercharger site there!"
I'm sure lots of thought goes into the selection of Tesla Supercharger sites and I would bet that the last thing they want is to put them near shopping and eating establishments - When your car is full, they would like it gone and not taking up a space where another car could be charging while you are away eating or shopping

Don
 

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Anybody going to the Mall or grocery store is going to be charging at home and using the charging stations in the parking lot if it's free and use it solely as a convenience except for those few who go to the next or next few towns to do shopping because there are no big box stores in their small town. Where you need infrastructure chargers that are going to make a difference are for those long(er) distant trips where people would normally stop like rest stops, parks, roadside restaurants, tourist places, views (preferably those incorporating short hikes, etc).
 

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I envision a resurgence in road signs similar to the old Burma Shave signs.

You took a road trip

In your EV

Now you have

Range anxiety!

DC Fast Charge
(10 miles on right)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Anybody going to the Mall or grocery store is going to be charging at home and using the charging stations in the parking lot if it's free and use it solely as a convenience except for those few who go to the next or next few towns to do shopping because there are no big box stores in their small town. Where you need infrastructure chargers that are going to make a difference are for those long(er) distant trips where people would normally stop like rest stops, parks, roadside restaurants, tourist places, views (preferably those incorporating short hikes, etc).
Nearly 20% of the U.S. population live in apartment complexes. That means their access to charging at home is in question. Another (unclear) percentage of the population live in single-family homes with no driveway or garage (i.e., only street) parking. That's a large portion of the population for whom pure battery electric vehicles aren't a real option.

Also, I see a number of comments referring to highway/freeway charging. While I agree that is another aspect, I wouldn't discount the importance of grocery stores to those implementations. In my video, I mention how those locations make adequate stops while making long trips (bathrooms, food, drinks, etc.). But what I didn't mention is that, grocery stores are already one of my primary stopping locations on my regular 500-mile trips. I have found them to be immensely useful and convenient stopping locations, typically right off the freeway. My only major complaint would be the number of chargers available per site. Even with our current EV population, one or two chargers per location just isn't a high enough site concentration.
 

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One of Teslas early Supercharger goals was to support road trips. Some of the earliest were on I-5 (e.g., Harris Ranch and Tejan between LA and the Bay Area.) With that in mind, one could watch the Supercharger map grow to cover the interstate highway system. They did place them at locations that had services, including food, for travelers. Now that the interstates pretty much have initial coverage, they can go back and fill in other places.

I've often wondered if they used the telematics built into their cars to tell them where folks were doing their charging - so it could help them locate 'hot spots' for charging sites. Maybe in particular, looking at where folks were using the CHAdeMO adapters for potential Supercharger sites.

GM could do the same with OnStar. But since they show no interest in helping develop any charging network, the capability is lost. (Unless they wanted to sell the data to someone like Chargepoint. Or Volta - since GM advertises on them.)
 

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Public charging is appearing at grocery stores and places like Target.

2018-05-13 15.09.33.jpg

The image above is a Target parking lot in Fremont CA. Notice the line of thirsty Teslas and one Volt to the far left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
One of Teslas early Supercharger goals was to support road trips. Some of the earliest were on I-5 (e.g., Harris Ranch and Tejan between LA and the Bay Area.) With that in mind, one could watch the Supercharger map grow to cover the interstate highway system. They did place them at locations that had services, including food, for travelers. Now that the interstates pretty much have initial coverage, they can go back and fill in other places.

I've often wondered if they used the telematics built into their cars to tell them where folks were doing their charging - so it could help them locate 'hot spots' for charging sites. Maybe in particular, looking at where folks were using the CHAdeMO adapters for potential Supercharger sites.

GM could do the same with OnStar. But since they show no interest in helping develop any charging network, the capability is lost. (Unless they wanted to sell the data to someone like Chargepoint. Or Volta - since GM advertises on them.)
I actually think Tesla's build out is more simplistic than that, but yes, they definitely started by attempting to facilitate long-distance travel. However, I think they were basing it on solely on feedback from their owners rather than data. I can tell based on where I'm seeing the chargers built and where I typically see Tesla owners. Lower-income areas and routes are definitely underrepresented in Tesla's build out, and while they seem to be targeting those more affluent locations and routes that Tesla owners specifically call out.

I guess you could justify that by saying that most of Tesla owners are wealthy, so they should get the most representation. I personally find it a bit distasteful. All I can say is, good thing for Electrify America and the push back they received that forced them to focus more on lower-income areas. Makes me proud to have bought a low-class, poor-man's EV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes, as you can see, always a pile of leafs there!
True, but that's also why I specifically called out in my video that the chargers must not be free to access. While I was onsite, charging my car and reviewing the new 150 kW charger, I was observing the Leaf drivers. Every single one of them stayed in the car while charging. In fact, one Leaf had four people in it, and the only person who got out of the car was the driver (when he plugged in). The owner of Bolt EV that was there when I arrived, however, came out of the store with grocery bags.

That free charging behavior would be unacceptable under the model I am describing.
 

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I actually think Tesla's build out is more simplistic than that, but yes, they definitely started by attempting to facilitate long-distance travel. However, I think they were basing it on solely on feedback from their owners rather than data. I can tell based on where I'm seeing the chargers built and where I typically see Tesla owners. Lower-income areas and routes are definitely underrepresented in Tesla's build out, and while they seem to be targeting those more affluent locations and routes that Tesla owners specifically call out.
Well - to some extent they were following earlier corridors put in place by Roadster owners. The Roadster guys had placed high power charging stations up and down I-5 even then. Just before the Model S was released, my Tesla-employee neighbor and I drove to Los Angeles. (We were driving a large Diesel truck full of high school band equipment for a marching band competition.) We stopped at Harris Ranch for lunch and while there, looked for and found the Roadster charging station. Harris has a bunch of Supercharger stalls there now, and was even the site of the experimental battery swap station.

I guess you could justify that by saying that most of Tesla owners are wealthy, so they should get the most representation. I personally find it a bit distasteful. All I can say is, good thing for Electrify America and the push back they received that forced them to focus more on lower-income areas. Makes me proud to have bought a low-class, poor-man's EV.
"The wealthy" in this case have been the pioneers of long distance travel by EV - paving the way for the rest of us. One can say the same about many things where early adopters are needed to pay the extra freight in return for something special.
 

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I don't need local charging, I would want long distance highway charging with 6+ DCFC every 70 miles or so. That would enable very long distance driving and take away one of the concerns potential EV buyers have. Tesla's network addresses this. Now we need a non-proprietary network that does the same. I don't see a Target store as filling the need unless they are on the highway's frontage road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well - to some extent they were following earlier corridors put in place by Roadster owners. The Roadster guys had placed high power charging stations up and down I-5 even then. Just before the Model S was released, my Tesla-employee neighbor and I drove to Los Angeles. (We were driving a large Diesel truck full of high school band equipment for a marching band competition.) We stopped at Harris Ranch for lunch and while there, looked for and found the Roadster charging station. Harris has a bunch of Supercharger stalls there now, and was even the site of the experimental battery swap station.

"The wealthy" in this case have been the pioneers of long distance travel by EV - paving the way for the rest of us. One can say the same about many things where early adopters are needed to pay the extra freight in return for something special.
Oh, I remember. I've been following the build out since the Roadster. I was following the build out for the EV1 as well.

And that's why I'm throwing my hat in on the discussion. I've seen a number of mistakes made by a number of charging providers, including Tesla. Tesla has, no doubt, gathered tons of data from their charging implementations, but that data is skewed toward the wealthy, in my opinion.

The use cases for average Americans will be very different, so I think it would be a mistake for public charging providers to follow exactly in the footsteps of what Tesla has done. Essentially, learn from Tesla's successes as well as their failures. Replicate and improve upon the former and avoid the latter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I don't need local charging, I would want long distance highway charging with 6+ DCFC every 70 miles or so. That would enable very long distance driving and take away one of the concerns potential EV buyers have. Tesla's network addresses this. Now we need a non-proprietary network that does the same. I don't see a Target store as filling the need unless they are on the highway's frontage road.
Maybe things are different in Illinois, but pretty much everywhere I've been in the West, a number of grocery stores are located just off the freeway near on/off ramps. As I was saying in an earlier post, most of my DC fast charging stops on my 500+ mile trips have been at grocery stores.
 

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Maybe things are different in Illinois, but pretty much everywhere I've been in the West, a number of grocery stores are located just off the freeway near on/off ramps.
There are many in the Chicago metro area (where I don't need a charge), but traveling outside that area? It's a desert. I have a trip to Iowa planned for this summer along Interstate 88. There are no DCFC stations on that 3 hour drive and no Targets that could be future stations. There are two Tesla SC along the route. I could charge a Bolt at the end of the trip, but that assumes it would make the 200+ miles. At highway speeds with A/C, 4 people and some luggage, that seems a bit optimistic. A stop midway for a DCFC would make it do-able, except there aren't any stations. So this will likely be a Volt trip instead.

The midwest has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to a long distance EV charging infrastructure. That's why an EREV like the Volt is a nice complementary car to a full EV. Unless you have a Tesla. As I have often said, this is where I see Tesla having an edge, at least for the next several years.
 
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