Can EV charging be a business?

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Gas stations are a business -- they sell gasoline at a profit. But EV charging isn't like that, and almost no EV charging stations are run with the primary goal of selling electricity at a profit to customers.

Some want the business, but will it work? Is this a temporary or permanent situation?

I explore that in my new Forbes site article at Can EV charging be a business?

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This kind of vehicle is like a range extender EV. So it will be able to supply grid specified electric energy. But in must be centrally controlled by the central power companies or other third party arrangements. These vehicles can serve as the main stay of energy storage and auxiliary liquid to electric energy conversion and solar and wind storage without needing separate large expensive energy storage farms. They can absorb solar and wind as they occur and be activated to supply local grid, reducing transmission line capacity issues, and much more.in addition they never have to be fully charged. They can be extremely useful in disasters, since they can supply quality energy from liquid fuel. I have built over 100 cars trucks and buses with this concept and demonstrated the technology in a company called Efficient Drivetrains Inc. we have recently been bought by Cummins Engine Corp. My contact is aafrank@ucdavis.edu

Just about anything could be a business.

The question is whether or not governments will allow it to be one.

Governments have been dicking around a bit. Their first efforts were to subsidize the installation of charging stations. That wasn't harmful (except to taxpayers) but did result in stations going where there was no demand for them, and them not being maintained.

The second way they have gotten involved is in trying to regulate the pricing. Some states actually require charging by the minute. Some require charging by the kwh. Others don't control this, which is the right choice. There are merits to both forms of charging but the regulation has mostly been muddled.

I will contend it can be very hard to make a business when consumers can get power at home at night rates, while the commercial charge station has to charge day rates plus recover lots of infrastructure that was already in the home. With a 3x difference in price, the only people buying in the day (until the solar makes it cheaper) are people who can't charge at night, but even they will work very hard to find alternatives rather than pay 3x the price.

Not all consumers can get power at home at night rates, nor do all of the ones that can necessarily want to. Price is only one factor, after all. I'm surprised there aren't many, if any, charging businesses that offer 100% renewable energy.

As long as there's a demand, a supply, and lack of government interference, there will be a market.

Commercial EV charging can always be done at night (though some government regulations might preclude time-of-day rates). Calling it "commercial charging stations" seems to imply a "gas station" mentality. But EV charging, or at least a majority of it, is not likely to look much like gas stations.

Interesting article, thank you. I agree 100% that the real business opportunity is highway road stops that bundle charging with some other offering, most likely food. People need to stop on road trips, for food and for fuel. This is a natural. Using a "gas station" to refuel makes no sense with an electric car because you start pretty much every day with a full tank. But car washes and other related services are still needed, so maybe the local "service station" will pivot to something else.

With gas cars, you fill up when you're driving. Electrics "fill up" when you're not driving. That's the bottom line. Cue disruption.

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