Are EV fast-charging stations smart business for existing gas stations?
The oil giant Chevron appears to be exploring exactly that, with an arrangement that will lead to the rollout at some U.S. Chevron and Texaco gas stations of DC fast-chargers capable of delivering 200 miles of range in 15 minutes.
Charging units for the fueling stations will be Boost Chargers, from California-based FreeWire Technologies, capable of plugging into the existing low-voltage service while delivering the high-power charging that would otherwise require electrical work and grid upgrades.
The Boost Charger units have two connectors, providing outputs up to 200 kw to the CCS standard, or up to 100 kw to the CHAdeMO standard. Or they can charge two CCS vehicles at once at up to 100 kw each.
Despite that output, they only require an inputted 27 kw from the grid—thanks to a 160-kwh battery on board.
FreeWire Boost charger
Because of those lower, more constant power demands, FreeWire says that it can “seamlessly connect to existing infrastructure without burdensome construction costs and complex permitting restraints.” The company previously said that it costs 40% less to install than typical fast-chargers, which start a bit above $10,000 in the absence of any complications.
FreeWire says that it will support the chargers with “energy management software with custom branding/design and analytics”—perhaps helping the company understand how quickly it should expand into the charging business.
You might be surprised at the answer. Last year, a BP executive suggested that on a margin basis (money in vs. money out) EV charging is near the levels of gasoline filling.
BMW i3 charging at EVgo fast chargers at Chevron station in Menlo Park, California
Chevron confirms that the program includes both company-owned fueling stations and independently owned ones.
In the UK, FreeWire allied with BP in 2020 to help with a gas-station charging station buildout there. The company has also launched test deployments at U.S. BP-owned ampm convenience stores.
BP led a previous funding round in FreeWire, and Volvo has also invested in the company.