The growth of interest in electric vehicles (EVs) throughout the U.S. has generated some real-world questions, concerns and opportunities. One major concern is “range anxiety.”
“Range anxiety” is a worry of those transitioning from gasoline to electric for drivers, which is the fear of being unable to complete a journey or availability of charging stations along the way. This fear is greatly reduced when drivers learn the positive lifestyle change that comes with EV ownership and having access to home/workplace charging. For the past century, Americans have become accustomed to stopping to refuel at a gas station, but most EV drivers now have access to a “gas station” at home. Similarly, many employers now allow remote work and/or hybrid work schedules (especially after the COVID-19 pandemic). Additionally, if these employers require employees to participate in a hybrid work schedule, many are investing in EV charging infrastructure at the office. Many utilities provide lower rates for “off-peak” charging, which reduces strain on the grid and keeps electric bills very affordable. According to Plug In America, charging at home leads to an increased electric bill of $45 per month on average.Daily routines, such as errands and commutes to work, are usually fulfilled with this home/workplace charge as the average range for new models is topping 300 miles. When traveling longer distances though, public charging is needed. The benefit of EV ownership is that most people do not drive more than 300 miles without stopping at least once to use the restroom, grab a coffee or get a bite to eat. Level 3 public chargers, also known as Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC), are high-powered and can usually charge up a vehicle in a half hour. Yes, this is longer than a traditional trip to the gas station, but this dwell time creates a captive driver, which can be a huge win for small businesses across America.
Brian Coon, a Monroe County resident, saw the opportunity public EV charging can provide to businesses near chargers. He is the founder of Charge Deals, a free online map that allows EV drivers to not only find thousands of public chargers, but highlights those with deals to businesses within walking distance that drivers can use while charging. Business owners pay a small fee to show off their products and services to these EV drivers and incentivize them to visit during their charge. In the summer of 2022, he ran a pilot with several towns that had public chargers. Nearly 25% of drivers who plugged in to the local charger redeemed one or more deals at a business nearby using Charge Deals.
EV charging has a similar business model as gas stations today. The margin made from fuel sales is low, causing fuel retailers to make most of their profit from purchases at their convenience store. Atlas Public Policy found that businesses and towns with EV chargers make little to no profit from the actual electric charge. The profit comes from the purchases the drivers made at businesses nearby while they charge.
Placing a charger in a location with nothing to do nearby provides no benefits to local economies. Towns looking to install chargers should keep in mind who will be frequenting their stations as well as how long drivers will be there. The data from Charge Deals can be used by towns and businesses to show the positive economic impact of EV charging.To see the EV charger map and learn more about Charge Deals, visit chargedeals.us.
— Tom Adamich is president of Visiting Librarian Service, a firm he has operated since 1993. He also is project archivist for the Greening Nursery Co. and Family Archives and the electric vehicle awareness coordinator at Monroe County Community College.
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Monroe County’s Brian Coon created Charge Deals app for EV drivers
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