Wednesday, July 06, 2016

EVs and the Service Station of the Future - by Geoffrey Styles

A Tesla (Credit: Bit Boy via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Tesla Motors is apparently in talks with Sheetz, Inc. to install electric vehicle (EV) Superchargers in the latter’s chain of gas stations.  This caught my eye, because I was involved in a much earlier effort to install EV recharging facilities in service stations in the late 1990s. It wasn’t just ahead of its time; it was stymied by some of the same economic challenges noted in the Washington Post article, as well as physical and regulatory issues that weren’t mentioned.

The logic of an alliance between Tesla and gasoline retailers like Sheetz seems sound.  Tesla embarked on its strategy to build a network of quick-rechargers in order to sell more cars.  Its Superchargers are likely to be more effective in that role if they’re installed in places that are both convenient to highways and offer a variety of other amenities for drivers, while they wait 15 minutes or more to top up their car’s range.  High-volume fuel retailers like Sheetz have already optimized their sites for convenience of location, and they have a wider range of food and beverage choices than the average gas station.

They also provide another essential feature:  space.  When Texaco was evaluating adding rechargers for GM’s ground-breaking EV1 electric car to its Southern California retail network nearly 20 years ago, the fire marshals with whom we met insisted that high-voltage electricity and pumps dispensing volatile fuels like gasoline could not share the same pump island.  They had to be widely separated for safety, and few of our L.A. locations had large enough footprints for that.  Sheetz, by contrast, typically has large stations–many in rural or suburban locations–that could accommodate EV charging without endangering customers filling up with gas or diesel.

Read more at EVs and the Service Station of the Future

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