Part of the difficulty in owning electric cars is the lack of available charging infrastructure away from home. People may feel trapped by an EV's reach if the destination is not near a charging station. Overall, we need to expand the charging infrastructure, and a Maryland gas station helps the case by converting the business to a charging station.
About a month ago, RS Automotive opened in Takoma Park, Maryland, as the first U.S. gas station to be completely converted into an EV charging station, reports NPR . The owner, Depeswar Doley, has kept the station pretty much the same as a regular gas station, so sometimes there is confusion from drivers who pull up with internal combustion engines and want to fill up.
"Many of them pull up and get upset," Doley says. There have been about eight to 1
The number of EVs on the road is growing, helped along with the increasing availability of more affordable models. More and more people are buying them, and more and more people are considering the switch. What holds many back is the lack of charging stations everywhere and how long it takes the battery to charge. Doley's drive solves at least one of these problems. His drive adds the number of available chargers to his area.
Here is a map of available chargers in Takoma Park. There are some, but they are not that many.
RS Automotive started as a typical gas station and workshop, but did not have the luck, according to NPR. Doley has owned it since 1997, but after two decades of fluctuating oil prices, poor contracts and burglaries at the convenience store, he was bored. By taking out a personal loan, Doley pulled the underground storage tanks and planned to run the workshop alone.
Doley got a call from the city: Would he want to turn the station into a fully equipped charging center? The offer came with a $ 786,000 grant to pay for the conversion – a combination of state funding and money from the Baltimore-based Electric Vehicle Institute.
Sixty-five percent of fee income goes to Doley, while EVI gets 33 percent. Prices start at a base of $ 2.50, plus an additional $ 0.20 per minute. Doley keeps the power going while EVI maintains the chargers.
Dan Bowermaster of Electric Power Research Institute tells NPR, "There is definitely a very real need to have these DC fast-charging centers whether it is for [low-income] for lower-income customers or for ticks or for those living in a townhouse where they simply do not have a 120-volt or 240-volt garage. "
The majority of Doley's customers are police cars and electric taxis. But he's willing to wait for EV life to grab more of the audience. NPR estimates a customer's average charging time to take around 15 to 30 minutes, so the convenience store is turned into a charging room with comfortable chairs and WiFi. It does not sell food, which is apparently to encourage people to walk around the neighborhood while charging their cars.
It's worth pointing out that most EV owners still charge their cars at home, and even 15 minutes is seen as a long time to sit and wait for a drive. And yes, if someone gave me almost a million dollars to turn my gas station into an EV charging station, I probably would.
And having the drive looks like a traditional gas station can cause unnecessary confusion. But if we're going to be serious about converting people into EVs, the more we rely on systems they already know and understand, the better. We do not need to teach them what car chargers look like because they look just like regular filling stations. The idea remains the same.
Let's face it. Most of the EV resistance comes from the fear of not being able to take a long road trip, even though most of these road trips only happen once or twice a year. Stations like these help you to alleviate your worries as you travel. And with more and more of them around, people will feel empowered to go further.
Even though Doley's drive stops failing, it's still a good thing that it happened at all. We need more charging stations in general, and the more there is, the more awareness spreads.
Definitely head to NPR to check out the full story and see pictures of Doley's station.