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Electric Car Charging Stations Replaces Gas Station: Is This A First?

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Filling up the Mini E at the gas station; photo, Michael Thwaite

Filling up the Mini E at the gas station; photo, Michael Thwaite

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We’ve often heard people muse that electric car charging stations need to be as ubiquitous as the humble gas station. 

In fact, we’ve even encountered rare occasions where electric car charging stations are offered alongside regular and premium, but what if electric car charging stations replaced gas stations entirely?

It might sound like the utopian dream of an electric car fan, but in a small part of Boston, Massachusetts, that dream has become a reality. 

Enter the appropriately-named Dinosaur Capital Partners and its Green Park & Charge site. 

Built on the site of a disused gas station in the increasingly trendy Bulfinch Triangle area of downtown Boston, the facility combines a parking garage with smart-grid enabled charging stations for electric cars.

 

Charging Cable and Socket

Charging Cable and Socket

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In a collaborative project with California-based Streetline Inc., the facility will be fitted with smart sensors that help locate empty parking spaces within the facility as well as keep track of their car’s state of charge using its Internet-based portal and smartphone apps.

“The concept here is to create an environmentally conscious parking facility,” Scott Oran, a founding partner at Dinosaur Capital told Mass High Tech. “When we spoke with the city about the types of cars they wanted to promote, they wanted to promote electric vehicles and then they’d like to accommodate the cars that use the least amount of gas.”

To help that promotion, owners of hybrid or electric cars using the facility will get a 10 percent discount on parking charges, while electricity used to charge cars will be provided free of charge. 

To discourage drivers of larger vehicles with poor gas mileage, the facility will add a 10 percent surcharge on parking for drivers of SUVs and vehicles with an EPA rating of 15 mpg or less. 

As far as we know, this is the first time electric car charging stations have replaced gas pumps, but we hope it won’t be the last. 

In fact, it could be the start of a new trend. 

Rapid Charging Station Tennessee Gas Station

Rapid Charging Station Tennessee Gas Station

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Here’s why.

Not only have increased fuel economy and high gas prices forced many gas stations to close, but zoning laws in some areas limit the redevelopment that can occur on the site of a former gas station. 

Often cited in busy inner cities, these areas of land are ideal places to develop parking garages and charging stations for commuters to use. 

Will it happen? 

At the moment, it’s a little early to tell. But when Boston’s Green Park & Charge facility opens on August 1, we know the green car world will be watching. 

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Comments (15)
  1. If one accepts the view, as I think most will, that electrics, once battery prices are drastically reduced, will supplant totally our gas powered friends, then the obvious future for gas stations is to go electric, perhaps not all at once, because even if they stopped selling gas powered cars tomorrow, they will still be around (and needing gas) for quite a while - at least 10 years in massive numbers. No idiot is going to throw away a $40K car just because electrics use cheaper fuel (and when electrics are in large numbers, gas prices will collapse).
     
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  2. Battery pack replacement will be a major cost after 100,000 miles. If I commute 20,000 miles per year I could save $2000 per year on fuel but face a $15,000 bill to replace the pack.
     
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  3. @Bob: Two points. First, only a fraction of early electric buyers are doing so on a dollars-and-cents basis (we've covered this quite a lot on this site).

    Second, you appear to assume that once a component is out of warranty, it needs replacement. Does the same apply to your engine, transmission, and other mechanical components? There's clearly a risk of replacing an expensive battery pack, but most data indicate that modern lithium-ion packs (except for Tesla's, which uses different cell chemistries) will last a decade or more with only moderate degradation--and we'll have to wait to find out for sure over a larger sample size.

    But by all means don't buy one if you're nervous about it!
     
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  4. This is not the first. The CMU "Electric Garage" (which has been open for a few years) opened on the site of a former Exxon gas station. The CMU ChargeCar project does electric car conversions there and there are now Level 2 charging stations there as well.
    http://www.chargecar.org/
     
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  5. well, if one is really dumb, one can invest in such silliness.

    people are not gonna pay extra for something that they can get cheaper, at home.

    as i have stated many times before, the only logical and useful need for charging stations is at the "truck" stops.

    long distance travelers in cars would be able to stop at these same "truck stops" and get re-charged.
     
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  6. Did you read the article? This is primarily a parking lot. They charge people to park their cars there. EVs get to park at a 10% discount and the electricity is FREE. How is this more expensive than charging at home? If you park down town you are going to have to pay somewhere.
     
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  7. Given the amount of time it takes to get a charge, I don't think gas stations or truck stops makes sense.

    What makes more sense to me is parking structures, and store ore restaurant parking lots - since you will likely be at those locations for longer.

    If McDonalds or Starbucks all had charging stations, then even long distance travelers could always find a charge.
     
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  8. I like the copper colored Leaf in the pic. Is that color available in 2013?
     
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  9. "the only logical and useful need for charging stations is at the "truck" stops."

    "What makes more sense to me is parking structures"

    I partially agree with both of you. Truck stops would be one the best uses for the large and expensive fast chargers Level 2 chargers may be appropriate in parking garages near work centers and other areas where people are likely to spend 4+ hours.
     
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  10. even in areas where one spends a lot of time (say at work), there would be no extra inconvenience. but there is an extra cost involved for the facility.

    the average joe doesnt spend money unnecessarily. he will do his charging at home, 99% of the time.

    if he gets stranded, or realizes that he forgot, he may use an outside charging facility - but only pay for enough to get him back home.

    the infrastructure necessary would never make money. it just isnt gonna happen on any sort of grand scale.

    people tend to focus on how things are, and how they can be duplicated - this is the only reason that this situation comes up - cuz people are used to stopping at the gas station to refuel.
     
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  11. another logical place is at hotels, especially ones along big interstates, etc (whose main clientele are distance travelers).

    but our current system of gas stations at every busy corner is simply not gonna happen.

    and should people be foolish enough to try, it wont last long - since they wont make enough profit to pay their bills.

    we already have electric semis making short trips (perhaps as long as the next state).

    there is an inevitable need for electric truck stops. so we may as well use that same infrastructure to deal with long-distance car travelers.

    and again at hotels, and perhaps some other likely areas.

    but in order to succeed, the customer must be in a position where charging at home is not an option.
     
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  12. You will have another Civil War on your hands if you try to stop people from charging from home. Japan came out with a 200 mile battery and that is all the distance I need, and if someone tries to stop me from charging at home, I will fill their ass full of buckshot...count on it. If I go on a long trip, I want charging stations in a location that is safe where I won't get car jacked or robbed. Walmart parking lots would be nice if they provide an armed guard or a cop to keep the thugs away.
     
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  13. It should be noted that this location is in the heart of Boston and is definitely someplace where people will spend a lot of time.

    Most gas stations are not someplace where you would like to hang around. But this location is area where people are going to anyway, so why not top-up.

    Might be useful for people coming in from the suburbs or exburbs (e.g. NH), into Boston. With the charging stations, at least they know they can get home.

    But honestly, parking is so expensive in that area, that a lot of people take public transportation to avoid the parking fee which will probably be $30.
     
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  14. sure it might not make sense to pay more for electricity you can get at home much cheaper or take the time to get a charge while out and about so putting charge stations in major retail locations is really the only thing to do. get some groceries, lunch or whatever. put them in all retail locations so staying for hours is not required. get 45 minutes here, 45 minutes there.

    now that makes MUCH more sense than borrowing $$ from China to buy oil from the Middle East when our debt is $14 Trillion or whatever PLUS interest
     
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  15. Recharging stations in gas stations is a no-brainer. While these people are awaiting a recharge, they shop in the "mimi-mart", buying their overpriced, high profit snacks, etc. This is a potential boon for stations. I think this trend will spread like wildfire when the major stations like Exxon realize this.
     
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