Public charging stations, though useful for some electric- and hybrid-vehicle drivers, come with a new set of strategic considerations, a new industry study concludes.
MyDrivingPower, a community of more than 250 electric and hybrid vehicle owners regularly surveyed by Detroit-based market research firm Morpace Inc., was polled in June and July on overall usage of public charging stations. This was the first time the survey polled the owners on these questions.
On average, the study released this month found, drivers charge their vehicles 3.5 times a month, with each charge taking about 2 hours. With the time commitment that comes with charging, drivers must take into account location and payment considerations when visiting public stations.
Jason Mantel, a vice president for Morpace, said electric-vehicle owners were more likely to have in-home chargers, with a rate of about 90 percent, compared with about half of plug-in hybrid owners. The two groups also differed in reasons for using public charging -- electric-vehicle owners tended to use stations only when necessary, while hybrid owners used them whenever they were available.
Availability was not a problem for drivers -- 88 percent said they could always or sometimes find an open charger when visiting stations.
Almost all drivers said they choose to visit establishments with charging stations as opposed to those without them.
“[Installing charging stations] will be a decision for retailers to consider” as these vehicles become more common, Mantel said.
Though some charging stations provide electricity for free, 71 percent of respondents said they pay to charge their vehicle. Of those surveyed who did not pay, about half said they still would not pay to charge if it was required.
“Pricing strategy for charging stations is going to be fascinating,” Mantel said. “All different types of payment schedules are needed.”
Mantel said respondents would generally pay about $2-$3 for a 1- to 2-hour charge, however attitudes varied depending on charger voltage. He added that paying a monthly fee for a charger is only a sensible investment if the driver uses it frequently.
Respondents who did not use public charging cited the inconvenience of far away stations and lengthy charge times as to why they prefer to charge at home or at stations provided at their workplace.