Let's talk about charging on long distance travel?

bajadahl

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I wrote a very long post about range anxiety and long distance traveling but then I realized it really boiled down to 2 questions.

1. What apps or utilities do you use when planning a long distance trip?

2. Do you ever think charging stations will be installed at actual gas stations?

As we reach (hopefully) a tipping point where there are going to be more and more electric cars on the road I am thinking this has to be inevitable at some point right? My quick example for these questions is this. If I drive from Austin to Uvalde in Southwest Texas ABRP (A Better Route Planner for all the other newbies out there so you don't have to google it if you see it here first) tells me I will make it there with about 45% battery remaining. For the return trip I have to make it all the way back to San Antonio before ABRP has a usable charging station. I am wondering if there are other apps that would show different usable charging stations along the route. I personally think that a charging station or 2 at every gas station would go a long way towards easing range anxiety. I realize West Texas might be the perfect example of "sparse charging opportunities" but it is a reality for me.
 

PoorPilot

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1. I use Plugshare as well as the built-in navigator in my Tesla. I just did a quick route check on Plugshare and it showed about 8 CCS/SAE/Chademo (high speed) charging stations between Austin and Uvalde. There are also quite a few J1772 charging opportunities along the way too, albeit at a much slower charging rate. You might have to pay for some of these, but the point is- the charging infrastructure is there. There does seem to be a lack of any charging stations between San Antonio and Uvalde though. I like to use the Plugshare app as a good overview of my intended route because I can filter out only Tesla superchargers or include any type of combination I think I might need. I also use it for our road trips when booking a hotel. A lot of hotels offer free charging while you're a guest, so if the hotel is close to where I want to be or has the right amenities, then why not, right?

2. Personally, I'm surprised more gas stations don't have charging stations. I'm sure the old-school thinking of electric vehicles and coal-burning vehicles shouldn't mix is prevalent, but to me it seems like another stream of income for the station. It could also be a lack of real estate available too, but I seem to lean more towards the high cost in initial investment is limiting a lot of owners/operators from installing these.
 

Pherdnut

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I think real estate + charge time is a part of it. 30-50 minute stops in a couple spaces at a station that's built around catering to 5-minute stops is probably a less profitable use of the space than it would be if there were a restaurant in the equation. It's also been a fairly rapidly evolving technology, which could leave a lot of owners a bit skittish about investing too early. Electrify America's rates are pretty high though. Hoping that inspires competition sooner rather than later.
 
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bajadahl

bajadahl

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I think real estate + charge time is a part of it. 30-50 minute stops in a couple spaces at a station that's built around catering to 5-minute stops is probably a less profitable use of the space than it would be if there were a restaurant in the equation. It's also been a fairly rapidly evolving technology, which could leave a lot of owners a bit skittish about investing too early. Electrify America's rates are pretty high though. Hoping that inspires competition sooner rather than later.

yes - I thought about that... so I started googling. It turns out a few of the major stations (Wawa and Sheetz) are both starting to add or have already added charging stations to some of their stations. I hope Buccee's follows suit soon. For those of you who don't know... Buccee's is like a destination gas station with food and shopping and they aren't just located on Interstate's. If places like Buccee's add them I think that would be a good start to many crossroads gas stations beginning to support them.
 

Kickaha

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The nice thing about EV chargers is that they are EASY to put in (relatively) - no pumps, no underground fuel lines, etc. Also, they DONT have to worry about traffic throughput. As the trend in gas stations to include restaruants increases, they WANT people to stop and stay a while -more opportunites to spend money. Use a section of the parking lot away from the pumps. Let people park and come inside to buy your overpriced crap.

At the end of the day, gasoline retailers are in business to make money, not make gasoline sales - although it can be argued, one follows the other. My point is, their purpose is to service vehicle customers - either gas or electric. If EV charging helps build a reveneue stream, they will get on board at some point.

People tend to be brand loyal. Pricing does play into it but as a broad generalization, people do tend to frequent certain brands. What I see in my own behavior is that if a certain retailer has EV charging, I tend to frequent that retailer more (even if I dont use the charger). At this time, that doesnt really matter. But, as EVs become more popular and that generalized behavior spreads over a larger and larger population, brand preference could play a dramatic role in top line sales and bottom line revenue.

For example, Wawa and Sheetz are starting to put a few (very few) chargers in. But knowing that, when I am driving and I need snacks, the first brands that appears on my radar (either while driving or planning a drive) is Wawa and Sheetz. Brand loyalty is powerful and well understood by these retailers.

Now this applies to pure retailers like Wawa and Sheetz because they are retailers and not vertically integrated multinational oil companies with exploration and drilling operations that depend on branded distribution networks to sell their products (i.e. gas stations). Exxon, Shell, BP, etc. DO care (exclusively) about keeping ICE customers happy. I really doubt you will see anything other than a token attempt to install chargers at Exxon stations. At least until falling sales and rising prices decrease customer traffic to such an extent that they are forced to (or go out of business - or some new regulation requiring charging stations at gas stations. Given the hostility to the EV industry by the federal government, I rate this as somewhere between a snowball's chance in hell and hell freezing over.)
 

CappyJax

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I think real estate + charge time is a part of it. 30-50 minute stops in a couple spaces at a station that's built around catering to 5-minute stops is probably a less profitable use of the space than it would be if there were a restaurant in the equation. It's also been a fairly rapidly evolving technology, which could leave a lot of owners a bit skittish about investing too early. Electrify America's rates are pretty high though. Hoping that inspires competition sooner rather than later.
Yes, I think gas stations won't likely put them in because they make more money from the store sales than the fuel. They want turnover more than anything.

I think the businesses that should put them in are restaurants or shopping malls. If someone is going to charge for an hour, then they can eat or shop.
 

ajdelange

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1)ABRP and PlugShare, just like everyone else

2)Depends on how you define "gas station". The old gas, fanbelts, ice and worms type of operation is rapidly fading from our landscape to be replaced by the convenience store with gas pumps. The gas pumps are really there to get you into the convenience store. Charging stations work just as well, the convenience store industry has noted this (to the extent that one finds articles about it in their national organization's magazine) and has started to install charging stations as has been noted here. For example WaWa, Sheetz and CheckRite have installed Tesla SCs and there may be others.

You can put a little J1772 charger almost anywhere but those aren't much good to someone on a road trip. Travelers want the big guns (350 kW) so they can charge quickly and get on their way and, of course the operator of a convenience store wants you to be on your way fairly quickly too so the chargers will be available for the next customer. Now 350 kW is a lot of power. It's enough to run 100 -150 houses. And a charging facility needs several of these. Thus for a "gas station" to install a usable charging facility it must be located at a place where it can tap the grid for huge amounts of power. That's not just anywhere.

I encourage people to play with ABRP and PlugShare. Let ABRP figure out a route and then look at PlugShare to see if you can improve it. Rivian drivers are at a disadvantage because they use the CCS network and that is somewhat primitive compared to the Tesla SC network. The main problem is that there aren't that many high powered chargers out there yet (but then I don't have my R1T yet either). Thus, for example, ABRP may take you off the New Jersey Turnpike (with its 50 kW CCS stations at rest stops) to get you to a Walmart which has the 350 kw CCS terminals. Yes, you will spend less time charging and even less time on the trip even though Walmarts (where EA puts its chargers) aren't necessarily that close to main arteries) but it's obviously less convenient and you may prefer to just take the extra time shopping for all those neat NJ souvenirs. Or if you happen to know that a town has a 50 kW CCS station (and a lot do) and you plan to spend the night there you might opt to skip a Walmart altogether and charge at a slower rate while you have dinner etc.

The real bummer for the Rivian driver is the cost. We do a 626 mile Virginia to Quebec run every spring and return in the fall. In the Tesla this would cost me $17.18 in charging fees. With the Rivian it is going to cost me over $90 which is more than I used to pay for petrol for the Lexus. But it's only a couple of times a year. Eighty-five percent of my electricity for the Rivian will be obtained at home so this is tolerable. But it does mean that home charging is almost a necessity for a high consumption vehicle like the Rivians not to mention the convenience.


As to Austin to Uvalde: My strategy would be to add charge at San Antonio on the way down and perhaps on the way back. There is a Walmart (a bit off the highway) but it has 150 kW and 350 kW CCS chargers so you won't be there too long at all.
 
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bajadahl

bajadahl

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Thanks - This all makes sense to me. I did notice the relatively high price for on the road charging. It's another reason I was thinking of chargers basically everywhere. Hoping for a little saturation at some point where the price for non Tesla owners comes down to a more reasonable level. I will continue to explore ABRP while including Plugshare for the more questionable routes.

I appreciate your take on the matter. Thanks again
 

ajdelange

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I think the reality of it is that it is expensive to build a charging infrastructure and expensive to operate it. Competition may solve some of this as may advancing technology. The president of EA said in an interview that no one makes the components for 350A chargers and so they are klugeing something together so they can get the chargers out there using several suppliers for components. When the market matures that situation should improve. Why are things better for Tesla? Because they are operating their system at a loss using it as a marketing tool. Initially every Tesla buyer got free charging for the entire time he owned the car. As Tesla found itself strapped for badly needed cash they began to roll the free charging back pretty much stopping it for everyone (except, currently, X buyers). And they have increased their prices a couple of times too. Still they are way below what EA charges. This is a problem for Rivian, of course, so I am guessing they will do something to soften the blow by subsidizing buyers charging through a deal with EA via discounts, free charging for some period... I think they almost have to do this.

With respect to the broader discussion: managing charging on the road represents a new skill for you. It is one you will quickly pick up with a little experience. These vehicles have 400 miles range. Practically speaking the range is 320 (80% of 400) but that's a lot of range. In general you should be able to take a look at PlugShare to get an idea as to what is out there between where you are starting from and where you are going and just go as you would do today in an ICE vehicle. The Rivians will give you lots of information as to how you are consuming electricity but really the battery charge indicator (0 - 100%) can be interpreted as you would interpret a gas gauge.
 

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I've used the Shell CCS charges at a gas/mini-mart/fast-food location in E. Washington state twice. It was actually FREE at the time, but that probably won't always be the case. Shell and BP are two oil companies that are installing EV chargers here and there.
 

ajdelange

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And north of the border Petro Canada
 

ajdelange

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Got an e-mail from EvGO with the usual declarations of all they are doing to fight COVID-19 etc. They thanked all the convenience stores, supermarkets, malls, gas stations... that have installed their chargers. Yes, gas stations so at leas some gas stations have put in chargers though I have not seen this personally.
 

ajdelange

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Maybe you could hire one of those to follow you around.

Data point on a Tesla Super Charger: Right off the interstate behind a Denny's next to a Burger King.
 

Billyk24

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The newest CCS charging stations featuring 150-350kW capacities is neat but at what rate does your BEV charge at? There is a charging curve with the highest levels usually between 10-35% SOC and then it drops. Tesla Model 3 owners frequently report on an average 87kW charge for their rate. What is the Rivian charging curve going to look like?
 
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