How Much Would You Pay To Quick-Charge Your Electric Car?

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ECOtality Blink charging station for electric & plug-in cars

ECOtality Blink charging station for electric & plug-in cars

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"Needs must when the devil drives"

The phrase dates back to the 1500s, but the meaning is still the same--presented with an unfortunate scenario you're sometimes forced to choose a less than ideal solution.

[UPDATE: After a fascinating set of back-and-forth e-mails with the communications staff at Ecotality, which operates the Blink network of electric-car charging stations, that company requested in stern language that Green Car Reports add the following statement to this article:

There are in fact no access fees to charge at any Blink DC Fast Charger, nor have there ever been. The $20 charge mentioned below was speculation by another news source.

That news source is in fact Fox Phoenix, the local television station that is quite clearly sourced below.. Ecotality refused to discuss any contact it may have had with the station that aired the incorrect report in the first place]

One such situation might be getting caught with low charge between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, in an electric car--and having to pay $20 for a full charge on the Blink fast-charger at a Casa Grande gas station (via Fox).

The station had the charging points installed recently, and it's the first place on the route to get a Blink fast charger.

On the one hand, the station's placement is ideal--roughly half way between Arizona's two largest cities, a journey of over 110 miles and therefore beyond the safe range of many electric vehicles.

But on the other--the "needs must" scenario--$10 for 15 minutes or $20 for a typical 80-100 percent charge is quite a lot of money.

In a Nissan Leaf, 80 percent is around 16-17 kilowatt-hours. At normal Arizona electricity prices, 11.08 cents/kWh (second link, Excel spreadsheet), the same charge would cost you less than $2.

That's a worst-case scenario, of course. If you leave Phoenix you may still have 50-60 percent charge remaining when you plug in, so your charge might be nearer the $10 mark.

You'd not be paying outright as much then, but that's still some mark-up over the average price of electricity in the state. Perhaps the option of a burrito or pizza at one of the accompanying restaurants will be worth the extra--at least you won't have to peruse the gas station's selection of gifts while you wait for a charge.

And it's undoubtedly great news that there's a fast charger there at all--it'll make life a whole lot easier for electric vehicle drivers wanting to go that little bit further.

But it'll cost ya. "Needs must", as they say...

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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Comments (32)
  1. On the other hand, $20 for 100 miles = $.20/mi, which is the same cost as a gas-fueled car ($4/gal and 20 mpg = $.20 per mile).

  2. I wouldn't pay more than I pay for electricity at home. Electric cars have to be substantially cheaper to run than ICE vehicles, or they'll never be given their day to be mass market.

    That said I happy to buy a coffee, be bombarded by advertising, buy some food, etc... That is where the business model is, not the sale of electricity.

  3. Your not paying for the electricity, your paying for the machine operating time to deliver that electricity in half an hour. Those charging stations are not cheap to manufacture or install for a relatively small market. It's got to be paid somehow. On an annual basis most people would just charge at home and not use those charging stations, but those charging stations do encourage to buy the electric cars in certain areas as it provides an option for the occasional long distance commute.

  4. The business model that makes sense to me, given the price of the machines, is for the car manufacturers to put them in and the venue to put up the space. After all they should drive footfall, but $10 -$20 for 50-60 miles, sold to someone who's already out of pocket by buying an electric car? They'll never get used, then who's making money?

  5. Point being that the car manufacturers need to put them in, otherwise people won't buy their cars. Look at what Tesla is doing. In the UK (where the distances are smaller) Nissan has done something very similar to Tesla's supercharger highway. In that today a Nissan LEAF driver can go more or less anywhere in the country in one day (with careful planning), driving from dealership to dealership.

  6. James; you dont pay $1.29 for water at home. you dont pay $4 for coffee at home and you dont pay $4 an hour to park in your driveway either now do you??

    so what is your mortgage? what do you pay to earn the right to turn on that water faucet?

  7. Nothing, landlord pays for water!

    Still whilst your point is well made, the problem is that if the cars don't take off, they'll make no money anyway! You'd be amazed how many people start to consider electric cars once they realise that you can do a 730 mile road trip for $3. I quick charged 10 times in order to do that, I wouldn't have taken the electric car if it was going to cost me $200! Would you?

  8. Three bucks to charge every 50-60 miles or so. I'd prefer to buy coffee instead but anything over $5 would force me to take the "other" car... This is what we have to do today anyway since not a single L3 exists in GA yet (if ever.) For any type of local charging these stations would have to be $1-3/session for me to hook up.

  9. $20 is ridiculous for an 80% charge. $10 for the convenience is much better and easier to swallow for the rare occasion. I'll pay more for the convenience factor and do not expect public rates to be as cheap as my 7 cent home flat rate.

    Fortunately 99% of the time I do not require public charging.

  10. halfway between 110 miles is 55 miles and having recently been relieved of that nearly exact scenario, I can assure you that it will be VERY difficult for LEAFers to negotiate the distance.

    what we fail to mention is some will be 55 miles(how many people can possibly live in the center of a city?) from the station, some will be less and MOST will be farther making either the first leg or the 2nd leg a test of faith.

    add to that, a 100+º day and the pitfalls of charging too fast on such a day and you have a recipe for disaster

  11. Yea the heat is a big problem. The 310 miles I did in one day took 5 quick charges, but only raised the battery temperature two bars (from 4 to 6). I guess that is one advantage of living in a cold climate.

  12. I would gladly pay up to $20 if it enabled the trip. The true cost of burning gasoline is much, much higher. And it has nothing to do with the cost of the electricity, but only about the convenience. Like paying ~$15 for wifi in a hotel for the night. Some places offer that for free as a perk, some charge. I *want* the quick charge stations to be profitable so that more will be built.

  13. I've got a volt so a fast-charge is a quick trip to the gas station. If I had a Leaf, I would do a fast charge up to 80-90% for maybe $5 to complete the inter-city trip there in AZ.

  14. So that is not really an electric but rather its a gas car with a big electric starter which can be wall-charged. If we want true emission-free travel then we need to invest in infrastructure commensurate with all out zero emissions, safe, quick as a nozzle with comparable energy density. The only such product is the batt switch mechanism. It works here in Israel, unlimited mileage and no rip-offs

  15. That is a true rip-off. You paid a premium for the battery, now you get squeezed for cheap electricity. I, on the other hand, did not pay for the battery, and my fee for charging or swapping battery on the road is exactly naught - because I am a Better Place client. I pre-paid for 60 thousand miles, and nowhere am i left wanting for charge.

  16. As Yuval has made so pointently clear, this is why Better Place's "Drive, Switch and Go", just makes so much sense! Pay for charging, never!

  17. I would rather see lots of high current level 2 chargers which should coast a fraction to install vs DC infrastructure. DC is great but the standards are still battling it out and AC is established. An establishment would be foolish To install DC if in a few years they have to pay again by choosing the Wong standard.

  18. If I had a Leaf, I would pay up to $0.20/KWh for those quick charges. B/c they are designed for special trips and occasional long range. @$0.20/KWh it is still cheaper than an ICE car and left enough profit for the electricity.

    As far as the "Machine Cost" goes, that is where the automaker or provider should chip in to bring the customers to the location.

    Heck, sell ads on those machine or add slot machine to it and offer lotto tickets...

  19. My, such handwringing. Blink will lower the price when it has competition or incentive - like, if no one uses it. For the time being, I'm sure EV owners are glad it's there. I drive my Leaf from San Diego to LA. Until now, there has really one been one, perfectly positioned CHAdeMO QuickCharger available -- an EVOasis ChargePoint unit in San Juan Capistano. It just raised its price to 15$ per hour, but it only charges you for the minutes you use -- so if you only use it 15 minutes to 'top off' they only charge you for 15 minutes. The headline, however, is that 2 more Quick Chargers have just opened at nearby Nissan Dealerships, and for awhile they are free. More options, more competition, bring it on!

  20. So, in this case, your automaker "encouraged" the spread of DC quick charger through its dealernetwork is a great start...

    The downside is that we end up with many different standards and network which don't work on each other's car or NOT willingly to provide the service to other brands...

  21. Which is why better Place is the real option. A single standard with no rip-offs and quick is not half hour. its five minutes and your off to the races

  22. Okay, I didn't want to get into the battery swapping arguement. But here are 3 reasons why it wouldn't work here in the US:

    1. You need a lot of those batteries to cover the entire US or at least major cities and locations. Some busy locations will get a lot of use and others will get very little to none in usage. Those cost a lot of money upfront. A typical battery will cost at least $5k to $10k.

    2. Since battery range is limited, frequent swap battery will require more stations close together and the battery has to be standardized for all EVs. Not happening!

    3. As battery ages, their performance will vary and each swap station have to sell customer based on the pack's expected range. Tons of overhead.

  23. Recharging at a Nissan dealership, free or otherwise is not a bad idea. Only problem is that the docking stations are only available during normal business hours, or at least every Nissan dealer I've been to.

  24. $0.20/kWh is approximately the standard price for electricity where I live (Long Island). I guess by your standard, all of my trips are special :-)

  25. I can't believe that you are paying that rate! That is a rip off. I thought CA is expensive...

    Is that "peak" rate or "average" rate?

  26. Assuming it took no longer than it takes to fill up the tank with liquid fuel, I would pay the same amount I am paying for liquid fuel, first and foremost to motivate infrastructure development.

  27. I would willingly pay $0.50/kWH, as that is only about 2x what I pay at home. I would grudgingly pay $1/kWH, as that is starting to make my out of pocket costs be higher per mile than my ICE car.

    If per-kWH pricing is not available (since PG&E won't let you 'resell electricity' without permission), I would be willing to pay by the minute. One of the things that drove me away from 350green was that they ONLY had a per-session price. $7 for 30min sounds good, until you realize that 1min and 30min of charging costs the same. Gah!

  28. @$4/gallon and 30mpg, the cost of $/mile is $0.134/mile.

    Typical EV gets about 3.3 to 3.8 miles per KWh. @$0.50/KWh, you are already close to the ICE car's cost. Hybrids are already cheaper... Anything over $0.3/KWh is too much in my opinion...

  29. EVs are a new phenomenon and clever entrepreneurs will take advantage of EV drivers in fear of getting stranded. I don't think those practices are the future though. Tesla seems to be setting the stage for a different way of paying for the use of fastchargers. Fixed contributions for the right to use fastcharge networks rather than cost related to the amount of miles driven might be the future of paying for transportation energy.

  30. I would be happy to pay the $20 in order to guarantee that I could complete the trip.
    The alternative is to drive the ICE and pay fo $4 a gallon for gasoline.
    Why does everyone think that the electricity is supposed to be free and no one can make a profit on it?

  31. Just cheap, not free.

    At what point would they be better off selling you coffee and doughnuts though and letting you charge for free (or for a $20 / year subscription). At least that way they are likely to have more potential customers.

  32. While you do somewhat decide what you pay for fuel (supply&demand), it seems like many EV drivers think that since they paid a "premium" to be green that their fuel should be free. I paid extra for a hybrid, but don't get to decide on gas prices.Everyone should choose what fits them best considering all the pros & cons, but don't expect your driving to be subsidized. Consider how the price of a coke changes from movie theater to gas station to convience store to supermarket, you pay for convience in addition to the product. If you think it's too expensive go on to the next slower charger, but like MP says, the cost is still competitive with gasoline. Buying the machines is simply an investment by the businesses to drive EV business to them.

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