Charging EV's on long trips

ChargePoint Places promoting win-win for both electric car drivers and destination sites

Today, ChargePoint announced an expansion of its ChargePoint Places program that’s being used to promote attractive EV-Friendly destinations.   The program is cool because EV drivers are presented with reassurance they’ll be able to travel with their electric car, and charge at the destination.  Showcasing destinations that do offer electric car charging demonstrates that “Destination Charging” (as it’s called) is a practical tool for driving the electric car on medium length trips.  There is a nit to pick, which I’ll get to in a moment.

“Destination Charging” is one of the charging-and-driving scenarios.  It describes the process of driving somewhere beyond your normal EV driving range, perhaps charging while en-route, then charging at the destination.  It’s preferable to charge AT the destination, because you’ll be there for awhile anyway and therefore the charging time doesn’t impact you.

For example, suppose you’d like to hike a particular park that’s 70 miles from home.  With an 80 mile range electric car the park is way beyond the radius reachable solely on home-based charging, where you’d be limited to destinations within 40 miles of home.   Therefore you must either drive a gasoline car (which we want to avoid) or use a public charging station.  The most convenient choice is to charge at the destination, if there’s a charging station.

The problem is “Which attractive destinations offer charging?”

The press release issued by ChargePoint is targeted at businesses that would join their Places program.  ChargePoint in turn will promote those businesses, which ought to draw traffic to businesses who operate EV-friendly destinations.  The win-win is that EV drivers get encouraged to drive electric more often, and charging station hosts receive more usage encouraging them to build more charging stations.

The nit-pick

I see my role with The Long Tail Pipe blog as doing more than just regurgitating press releases, but doing some analysis.  While this program is cool, there’s an issue to pick at.

With studies indicating that more than 85 percent of EV drivers have higher than average household incomes, attracting these customers is good business. Businesses that participate in ChargePoint Places already have EV charging on-site; to drive visibility for the existing customer amenity, they create exclusive offers for EV drivers that ChargePoint then promotes to its driver community.

In other words — ChargePoint is promising these businesses a flow not just of customers, but of well heeled customers who might be willing to spend money.  The Destinations showcased in the press release are pricey resorts in the SF Bay Area, for example.

The nitpick is that we don’t want the electric vehicle market to be stuck on just the wealthy.  We want electric vehicle adoption at all strata of society.

This sort of marketing gambit doesn’t further that goal in the slightest.  Instead it’s another perk handed to the well-off among us, the ones who hardly need perks.  Let’s be honest, with this program ChargePoint is spending its resources to coddle the rich.

Wouldn’t we all be better served if all electric vehicle market stake-holders were working to promote broad adoption of electric vehicles by all?

Like I said, this was a nitpick.  Below is the full press release.  Let me know in the comments section whether I’ve got this right, or nit.

ChargePoint Partners with Customers to Give EV Drivers Deep Discounts Just in Time for the Holidays

A New Program Provides Exclusive Offers, Helps Businesses Find New Customers, EV Drivers Find New Experiences

Campbell, Calif. – The newest program from ChargePoint, ChargePoint Places, connects participating businesses to the largest community of electric vehicle (EV) drivers and provides EV drivers access to exclusive offers from destinations that offer charging. ChargePoint Places in a unique and innovative program where companies in retail and hospitality can increase their sales by promoting special offers and experiences to ChargePoint’s extensive community of EV drivers.

“By joining ChargePoint Places, businesses are highlighting their leadership in corporate responsibility and sustainability, and they’re attracting new customers who not only share their commitment to the environment but who also are a loyal customer demographic,” said Dimitrios Papadogonas, Vice President of Marketing with ChargePoint. “EV drivers strongly prefer businesses that offer EV charging. With Places, businesses find new customers and ChargePoint’s member drivers discover new companies that make them feel welcome.”

With studies indicating that more than 85 percent of EV drivers have higher than average household incomes, attracting these customers is good business. Businesses that participate in ChargePoint Places already have EV charging on-site; to drive visibility for the existing customer amenity, they create exclusive offers for EV drivers that ChargePoint then promotes to its driver community.

“As a full-service resort, The Meritage Resort and Spa attracts customers from around the world – but we’re also committed to serving local customers, and ChargePoint Places helps us do just that,” said Michael Palmer, General Manager for The Meritage Resort. “EV drivers prefer to stay where EV charging is easy and accessible. ChargePoint Places connects EV drivers to a world-class experience and connects us to a world-class customer.”

Businesses participating in the ChargePoint Places at launch include Hotel Strata in Mountain View, California, as well as The Meritage Resort and Spa and Odette Estate Winery in Napa, California. The program’s exclusive offers for EV drivers range from free or discounted EV charging, to free food and drinks, to other price reductions on room rates and additional special benefits.

“Taking our partnership with ChargePoint to the next level by becoming a Places-branded business was an easy decision because it’s good for our customers and it’s good for business,” said Amanda Pier, Odette Estate Tasting Room Manager “We know EV drivers are great customers; joining Places will only help increase our exposure to this growing and loyal customer base.”

ChargePoint intends to announce more special offers from businesses in the coming months.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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