Monday, September 17, 2012

Charging Rates For Electric Vehicles

Electric car charging providers are wrestling with what, if anything, to charge for charging. As charging companies begin collecting fees, it looks like the most common approach will be to bill customers by length of time spent charging or by a monthly subscription fee, not the amount of electricity dispensed. There are currently about 50,000 electric vehicles on the road in the USA.

Coulomb Technologies Inc, a Campbell, Calif., company that has built 8,600 charging points runs the billing network for ChargePoint-branded chargers, but it doesn't own the equipment or set prices. 80% of ChargePoint locations currently are free to use, and the rest collect fees set by location owners.

ECOtality Inc., another big installer of charging stations is dispensing free electricity at about 3,000 Blink-branded public charging points. But it expects to begin charging fees this fall.

Drivers often use public chargers to top off their electric car batteries while shopping, at a movie or at work.

ECOtality plans to offer a three-tiered payment structure. Drivers not registered with ECOtality will pay $2 an hour. Drivers who have registered with its Blink network will pay $1.50 an hour. And so-called Blink Plus members who also pay an annual membership fee of up to $30 will pay $1 an hour and will be allowed to reserve chargers.
For a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, the top-selling plug-in vehicles, paying $1 an hour for electricity works out to about 7.5 cents for each pure-electric mile driven, less than half of what it costs to fuel a car that gets 25 miles per gallon. Anything above $2 an hour is more expensive than gasoline.

One New Jersey company is sidestepping the issue of how to price individual charges. NRG Energy is using a subscription model for the 28 fast-charging stations that it's built in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, with dozens more on the way. The price is $39 a month for unlimited access to the public chargers that can fully charge most cars in half an hour or less, and $89 a month for unlimited use of fast public chargers and a slower 240-volt home charger. (WSJ, 9/17/202)

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