The number of holiday travelers has returned to pre-pandemic levels, which means a lot of people are hitting the road in the United States. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that 115.2 million Americans will travel during the 2023 holiday travel period, and 90% of them will travel by car. Electric vehicle ownership is increasing, and that means more EVs on the road and more demand for charging services. And for a population that associates convenience stores with fueling stations, truck stops and roadside convenience stores have a golden opportunity to attract EV drivers, especially in more rural areas where electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) is scarce. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as of the second quarter of 2023, only 3.5% of public Level 2 (L2) chargers and 8% of public Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs) were located in rural regions.
What do the placement of electric vehicle charging stations mean for truck stops and roadside convenience store owners? Here are a few ideas for taking advantage of EVs at your business.
From Range Anxiety to Range Confidence
It’s no surprise that the best way to attract EV drivers to a gas station is by providing them with a place to charge their vehicles.
According to the Electric Vehicle Database, the average range of an EV is 227 miles. While 80% of charging takes place at home and a 227-mile range is more than enough for the daily commute, EV drivers need public charging stations for long-range or holiday travel. This introduces a new worry: EV range anxiety, or the fear that their vehicle will run out of electric power. Despite data showing that this range anxiety typically disappears after a few months of driving an EV, this anxiety remains for uninitiated and new EV drivers.
Convenience stores, fuel stations, and truck stops are essential to building range confidence among EV drivers. In McKinsey’s Building the Electric-Vehicle Charging Infrastructure America Needs report, if the United States meets its federal target of 50% of all vehicles sold by 2030 are zero-emission vehicles, “public charging would deliver more than 20 percent of the electricity EVs would use.” Expanding access to EV charging stations at truck stops and other retailers will meet the needs of future EV drivers, who will have a new reason to visit your fuel station.
Solving Charge Anxiety with Dependability
During a webinar hosted by Forth Mobility, Plug In America’s Executive Director Joel Levin described charge anxiety as the fear that a charging station won’t work or the payment system won’t be compatible with what the driver normally uses. Drivers worry about charger reliability, long wait times to charge, and payment methods.
Electric vehicles are becoming mainstream, and drivers need to know that they can find a working charging station when needed. While charging stations can now be found on mapping services such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, PlugShare, and select vehicle navigation systems, these services do not always include information about live station status or payment methods. Forward-thinking c-store and truck stop managers can create a reputation for providing easy-to-use chargers that offer credit card payments and high reliability.
What Are the Best EV Chargers for Truck Stops and Roadside Convenience Stores?
Because most convenience stores or fuel stations are not intended as destinations where drivers park for several hours, DCFCs are the ideal type of charger for quick charging. DCFCs are capable of charging a vehicle battery in under an hour. And many drivers opt to only charge to 80% in order to take advantage of regenerative braking and other battery optimization features. In addition, Blink recommends having at least one L2 charger to accommodate plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and older EVs that cannot use DCFCs to charge.
Regardless of the charging level, EV chargers are only useful to drivers if they’re easy to use. Blink answers the “charge anxiety” problem by offering Level 2 and DCFC charging stations that are capable of accepting multiple payment methods. The Blink 60kW-180kW – Free Standing DC Fast Charger and the Series 8 Level 2 Charging Station for example, come with an RFID reader to accommodate Blink cards and a credit card reader for credit card payments, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. With Blink, EV drivers will never be stuck without a way to pay to use the charger.
Blink Network Benefits for C-Stores and Truck Stops
Installing DCFCs or L2 chargers from Blink means that your business can be added to the Blink Charging Mobile App as a place to charge, as well as other popular charging locator services. Being part of the Blink Network also provides access to your own dashboard to control all aspects of your chargers including the ability to set different pricing levels for certain times of the day. You can also create groups of users, so if you have a loyalty program you could offer your members a cheaper rate than non-members.
Getting Help with EV Charger Installations
There are numerous funding options for businesses that want to install EVSE. Two federal programs that would be of interest to truck stop and roadside convenience store owners are the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Tax Credit (also known as the EV charging station tax credit) and the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (NEVI).
- The federal tax credit is worth up to 30% of the installation cost, up to $100,000 per charger. However, it is restricted by census tract.
- NEVI provides funding for banks of at least four DCFCs every 50 miles along alternative fuel corridors, no further than 1 mile from the highway exit.
There are also funding programs in each state, which businesses can learn about using the Blink Commercial Incentives tool. Simply input your zip code and charging station type, and the tool will show you a list of available funding programs that you might qualify for.
Truck stops and roadside convenience stores can take advantage of the increasing number of EVs on the road by providing a place for them to stop and charge their vehicles quickly and efficiently. With Blink, your business can become part of the solution to EV range anxiety and charge anxiety. Ready to get started? Contact Blink Charging today to talk to an electrification expert.