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Blink Tests Different Pricing Models For Fast Charging Electric Cars

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Blink EV charging point at IKEA store

Blink EV charging point at IKEA store

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It's still early days for public electric car charging, with new stations springing up all the time and various networks handling the responsibilty of hosting stations.

One of those networks is Blink, whose DC fast chargers will be familiar to many electric early adopters.

Now, the company has announced it's to try out a series of new pricing models to ascertain what works for its customers and what doesn't.

Based on existing feedback from customers, Blink will explore a series of price changes at its charging stations in certain markets, collecting data on use during these periods and using that to shape its future business model.

Customers at relevant locations will be notified of price changes as they roll out.

DC fast chargers in Arizona, Tennessee, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, and San Diego now have new fees in place, and the first session of test fees is already underway in Los Angeles and San Diego.

San Francisco will soon join these cities, with a $5 per charge event fee for Blink members. Non-members can also use the chargers, at a higher rate of $8 per charge.

Blink is welcoming feedback both from customers using the chargers and on the thread below its announcement.

Initially at least, the new fee system seems to be concerning users, who worry that $5 for a fast charge (likely only 30 minutes, or around 50 miles of range on a Nissan Leaf) is too close to gasoline pricing for comfort.

Still, at least both these initial fees are well below the rumored $20 we covered back in April. Even if the company can no longer claim, "There are in fact no access fees to charge at any Blink DC Fast Charger, nor have there ever been"...

What would you be prepared to pay for a fast charge? Leave your thoughts with us below in the comments section.

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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Comments (40)
  1. This is a tough nut to crack. The charging stations are expensive to install and run, and private companies will have to cover their costs. However, electric car owners are going to be annoyed by these new high rates.

    On the plus side, perhaps only people that really need a quick charge will be occupying the stations.
     
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  2. Too expensive in my opinion, fast or not. The only way I'd pay that is if I was about to run out of charge or if it included a parking fee that others had to pay in a particular lot. Yes it is way too close to the cost of gas.
     
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  3. It is good to see competition developing that will offer high speed charging stations for Ev's. Once charging infrastructure has been developed I could see more and more people being willing to buy an EV since they know they can find a place to charge their car. Also the manufactures need to develop battery packs that can be charged at a high rate of speed so full recharge can be in less than 30 minutes or so. Once that happens I can see Electric cars become more viable and desirable to the average automobile consumer.
     
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  4. Tesla superchargers charge 200 miles in 20 minutes, granted it is an expensive car, but for people that want to make an impact...
     
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  5. Correction: 150 miles in 30 minutes...
     
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  6. 150 miles in 30 minutes was prior to the upgrades to 120kw. Tesla now quotes 200 miles in 30 minutes, which would translate to 150 miles in about 22 minutes.

    I'm going to trust their figures; you probably should too.
     
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  7. I'd be willing to drop $5 or more when I visit TN but all the DC blinks I've seen or attempted to use there are non-functional due to poor quality hardware/installation, non-responsive screens, vandalized, or ICEd by pickup trucks, old farts in Buicks, or the Cracker Barrel employees looking for an easy parking spot. This pretty much summarizes the DC blink experience for me except for the unit I got at home which needed a couple of repairs already. It's very sad from the company perspective and the rednecks who prevent the usage down here.
     
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  8. I agree the DC Blinks are very poor quality from the screens not sensing your finger correctly, to the jack wearing out, to the fact that the SMS doesn't work (works at my home charger where I need it least...). IMO Blink will be acquired for their "ev real estate" as their mgmt leaves a lot to be desired.
     
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  9. It all depends on how much you will need to DCQC at Level 3. If it's only for "just in case", or emergencies, then $5 per session seems fine to me, or even $8 or $10. But, if you're going to be a regular L3 user, you should join a plan, like at eVgo, where you pay a set fee for all-you-can-charge. Isn't that what things are heading towards?
     
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  10. They should just lobby for a dispensation to charge per kWh delivered. A 50% markup over retail residential rates would be acceptable.
     
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  11. That is about $5 per 30 min charge session for a Leaf.

    If $0.15 is the residential rate, then 1.5x that is $0.225/KWh. In 30 minutes, the Leaf should be able to fill up to 70% of that 24KWh battery and with about 10% loss, that is about 18.5KWh or a little bit more than $4.
     
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  12. Nissan should install them and let LEAF users access them for free, charging drivers of other vehicles for their use or charging the manufacturers of other electric cars for their cars to have access. That sounds fair to me (and that is more or less what Tesla is doing btw), after all in the long run it Nissan that stands to gain the most from the arrangement. The idea of paying almost the same as for petrol, when to get the charge takes an inconvenient 20 - 30 minutes seems crazy (well inconvenient after only having driven for an hour in a LEAF, a Tesla is a different matter altogether).

    In the UK I don't mind stopping every hour for 20 minutes, because although it is inconvenient, the chargers are free!
     
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  13. I would rather see them charge by the kWh rather than by session. However, if I took 20 kWh for my Leaf in a session, at $5 per session, that works out to .25 cents per kWh which I could live with.
     
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  14. You'll never fit 20 kWh in a LEAF battery! Not unless you run it down to completely flat and then charge it up to completely full, which will take considerably longer than 30 minutes and won't do the battery any good. The best thing to do from the battery's point of view is run it down to 30 - 40% and then charge it up to 70 - 80% (should get you around 50 miles), which will take 10 - 20 minutes (the chargers run quicker when the battery is lower and cooler, slowing down as it fills up). The problem is, then you'll be paying twice the amount for the same number of kWhs, even though you'll be spending less time in total plugged into the charger! (I don't like the sound of this paying scheme.)
     
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  15. What if you only need 10 kWh make it home:

    1. Would you be willing to pay $5 for 10-15 min., or pay $2 to charge on Level 2 for a 1.5-2.5 hours?
    2. If using $5 quick charge would you just plug-in just 15 min., or wait until charged above 80%?
    3. What if had choice to only paid by kWh (with $5 kWh min. billing) for ~$2.50 (25 cent/kWh noted above)?
     
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  16. I wrote a letter to Blink about their services and got a very earnest reply followed up by a congenial phone call. While I appreciate their difficulties in dealing with varying electricity rates, the "convenience" versus "necessity" of public charging is a real problem for users of all electric vehicles. The costs of charging at $5 per fast charge will make my choice to turn in my Leaf at the end of the lease period very easy. The car becomes cost effective only if charged at home and loses a lot of its utility value. My initial purchase of a Volt with range extending becomes a better and better decision as charging publically is a real pain. I have stopped all charging with Blink except in "can't avoid" situations.
     
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  17. Um, no. I'll be using them only when I have to at that price. Half the reason I bought an electric car is because its far less expensive to operate, if you charge at home. So I'll be using Blink only when I have to on special trips or emergencies.
     
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  18. $5 per charge is fine if your battery is completely drain. The system should also be smart program that if you only need 2kwh of energy, you can unplug and charge should be prorated.
     
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  19. Let's not forget these chargers were mostly if not completely paid for by the Fed gov in rebates.

    Until there are a million EV charging isn't going to be profitable.

    Nor would I who has a tiny pack on my EV Streamliner pay $5 for 4kwhrs. Instead I'd likely use my tiny but unlimited range generator on E-85 at about 150mpg.

    Sadly most EV's from big auto are overpriced, overweight and overteched on purpose to make them uncompetitive.

    There is no reason a Tesla S couldn't weigh 2k lbs and still do the same job if done in medium tech composites instead of metal.
     
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  20. "Let's not forget these chargers were mostly if not completely paid for by the Fed gov in rebates."

    Where is the proof on that? DOE grants paid for a lot of Level 2 chargers and they are usually just for intital equipment cost. It doesn't cover the continuing service cost associated with the chargers.

    It cost money to keep those stations up and running. EV owners complain that those thing don't work sometimes or get vandalized, but government fund is NOT paying for the service and repair of those units. Some entity has to pay for it.
     
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  21. The EV Project (theEVproject.com) is a $230 million project with 50% ($115 million) of federial government funds via Dep. of Energy, and 50% from non-federial government sources. The goal was to deploy 8300 Private Level 2(residential & business stations), 6300 Public Level 2 stations, and 310 DC Quick Charge stations. The 50% non-federial funds are supplied by the host site, as is the electricity used/delivered by charge station. For the stations to be listed on Blink Network there is a monthly service fee (not sure if there are transaction processing fees). Believe host site covers operational costs. The project will end Dec 31, 2013.
    For more details see: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/avta/pdfs/evproj/intro_to_evproj.pdf
     
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  22. Sure, like I said, most of them are L2 chargers. We are talking about DC chargers. There are already more than 310 DC chargers out there. So, how is it wrong for Blink to charge money for the service and upkeep? $5 per charge doesn't pay for the station, NOT EVEN CLOSE.
     
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  23. So how come in the UK where almost all fast chargers are provided for free (with a small annual admin fee - $15), are the chargers usually working fine?

    The answer - because the company that has installed them is gaining some additional benefit, be that philanthropy, promotion of their brand, higher car sales or government money.

    Cash from selling electricity (as it seems to be done in the US), appears to not be a very good incentive for your service providers. If it was, they would keep their chargers working better wouldn't they!
     
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  24. it seems to me, different fast chargers should charge different rates.

    say you are at a mall, and want a fast charge while you are shopping, price that cheap, say $3/hour, because, really, it's less time sensitive and you can do other things.

    then consider a charger on I-95. there, time is of the essense, charging $10
    for a leaf to get another 90 miles isn't a big deal.

    If you are driving long distance, time matters, speed matters and reliability matters.
     
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  25. I think that is fair. $5 is fairly competitive with gasoline pricing. After all, those chargers are expensive to install and service. Most BEV owners won't need it unless they have to. So, it is fair.

    Plus, EV community can't expect those free stations to last forever. If they want more chargers, then it has to make sense economically for companies to install them and find a way to pay for the service and upkeep.

    I would even take the $10 per charge if they are willing to increase the amount of chargers by 10x by the end of year.
     
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  26. Free charge at home. $5 buys 1.5 gallons of fuel = 45 + 57 = 102+ miles. Unlimited range,no charge necessary, Chevy VOLT
     
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  27. There's little point in driving an electric vehicle if it's "competitive" with gasoline. They cost 50% more than equivalent vehicles.
     
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  28. They really need to have per-minute and per-session pricing. If I only need a top up, there's no way in hell that I am paying $5 unless it's an emergency. But to go from 15% to 100%? $5 is cheaper than at home, so yes!
     
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  29. At $5.00 / charging session which gives you 70-800 miles (Leaf). If you charged everyday (30 days per month) that would cost you $150.00 per month. eVgo charges $60.00 per month for unlimited charging and they have DC Fast Chargers and installing more everyday. I have three fast chargers within 3 mile radius of my home. I wouldn't pay more than $3.00 per session.
     
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  30. oops I mean 70-80 miles range per session.
     
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  31. I was only spending $200 a month on gas for my last car - my Leaf has to cost close to $0/month for fuel or it's not worth the higher cost of the vehicle. I might pay $60/month for unlimited IF there were way more places to charge than blink provides currently.
     
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  32. They will know they have the price right when I plug in and swipe my credit card (Visa, MC, AE, Discover). So far I only plugged in once and that was during their FREE period. I would pay for KWH not event. I can't imagine me paying $5.00 and coming back later to find myself unplugged.
     
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  33. EV charging prices are so chaotic that it makes me feel a little better about owning an EREV or Plug In Hybrid instead of a BEV. It gives me a choice. Then again, if Tesla replaces their old charger near my house (1mile away) with a supercharger I could be swayed to a BEV.
     
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  34. I believe there should be a timed or kW charge instead of a per use charge. I live in TN and don't mind $5 if I'm empty & it actually takes me up to 80% (not stopping at 70% like the one time I've had to pay the $5 fee).

    I think if you want to charge $0.33/kw that comes out close to a low battery to 80%. Or time it to something like $2.00/10 minutes (which would encourage people to move their car) would work better.

    my $0.02
    Philip
     
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  35. 100% agreed, a per-minute fee, charging or not, would be best IMHO. Not only it helps people move their car after they're done (*), but unlike a per-session fee, it'd also discourage charging all the way to 100% -- the last percents are so painfully slow, they might just as well be done on L2.

    (*) As Blink DCQCs are dual-port, a great feature I think, cars can charge back-to-back even if drivers don't immediately move their vehicles. A short free grace period after charging, say 5 minutes, would therefore not impact availability.

    One could even argue that, as long as the other port remains unused, the person overstaying didn't prevent anyone from charging anyway, so shouldn't be billed extra...
     
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  36. Charging a flat fee per charge session is as stupid as a gas station asking you a fixed $100 fee per fillup.
    You have a valuable resource (Fast Charger) and you want to give as many EV'ers as possible access to that station? Then charge a reasonable per-minute fee. You will likely get more income due to better utilization of the charger and happier customers who don't feel cheated if they are forced to charge while their pack is still more than half full, or they only need a 5 min charge to get home but now have to hang around half an hour to get their money's worth, hogging your precious Fast Charger...
     
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  37. So they want $5 per session... Say that's 30 minutes. That is $10/hr. I think a fairer way to charge $10/hr is $1 + $0.15/min of active charging + $0.05/min of additional connection time after charging is complete. If you only need a 10 minute charge to get home, you pay $2.50. If you leave your car there after it's done charging, you get penalized.
     
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  38. $0.05/min is NOT enough penalty to move people...
     
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  39. It actually is the same price as gas for me since my previous vehicle was a hybrid. For $5, a hybrid can go about 60 miles. My typical quickcharge give me about 40 miles.
     
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  40. A fair price is at least the price you would have paid for gasoline. Why would driving an electric car be cheaper than a gasoline car ?
     
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