The Issue of the Public, and Free, Electric Vehicle Chargers


wattstationAn article recently appeared on arguing that the public and free electric vehicle (EV) charger trend is not sustainable, and that EVs will have a brighter future if charging stations owners can make revenue from their charging operation. And they might have a point.

The authors argument is that  EVs will have a brighter future if the owners of the public charging station can make money off that public charging station. By being able to make a profit of the charging stations more people will install them at their business, and thus more consumers will feel comfortable buying an EV because they can get a charge at any number of locations. It is an interesting argument, but not without its flaws.

In response to the article people have commented that electricity is everywhere. Unlike gasoline, electricity is built into our current infrastructure. Gasoline has to be shipped in trucks and through pipe lines and stored in tanks. Because of this, installing a gas pump costs a heck of a lot more than installing a public charger. Other have responded by saying that given the limited range of many pure EVs, EV owners charge at home using energy that they already pay for. Because of this, the public charging station becomes more of an emergency backup system rather than a primary fuel source.

My view on this issue is by the numbers – there are currently not enough EVs on the road to sustain a for-fee charging station system. Right now very few people are going to pay a service station to plug in. Long term the article’s argument makes sense, but we need to look to see if current automotive trends are even going the way of the EV – and for some manufactures it seems they are not. In fact a recent report showed that as gas prices increase it is actually small, fuel efficient, gas powered cars that would see the largest jump in sales followed by hybrids. But not EVs.

If vast sums of money are spent to service an alternative fuel technology that does not take off with consumers, perhaps EVs, than that spells trouble for future more consumer friendly alternative fuel technologies. I am not saying that the EV market will fail, some reports have it booming. What I am saying is to be cautious with how fast we push the pay for service side. With risk can come reward, but we do not want to create a business environment that is adverse to new technologies, and right now EVs need all the incentives they can get, including free public charging.


Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison 


About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison
  • Jstack6

    At the Tesla Superchargers it is free. They use Solar PV and make more than is use.

    Trickle down ,it also reduces the $1 Billion a day we use to import OIL.

    Pollution, It also stop deadly air pollution .

    So the payback is priceless !

    • T Adkins

       So far the Tesla supercharger are to be free just for Tesla cars and only the 3 high end cars of the Model S line(the signature, the 85kw, the 60kw). This is currently free for less than 20,000 cars. While I am sure they will sell over 20,000 at some point it wont be next week and I am sure the Model X and the next roadster will be able to use them. Sadly the cars do not yet exist.

      If you were to replace a car that got @35mpg and you drive @15,000 mile a year, replacing that car with an EV would save you about $1500 with gas at $3.50. It is about 668 EV replacing and equal amount of 35mpg cars just to save $1million in a year, that doesnt begin to scratch at your $1Billion a day.

      • Whatthewha?

      • P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }A:link { }

        math” here is so very impressive! So far it excludes the cost of
        warring the world over for oil, the cost of Asian and Chinese
        competition driving oil prices ever upward, the availability of long
        term low interest loans from China to buy foreign oil. the cost of
        the “controlling balance of power” over the U.S. dollar
        these loans give to a foreign and communist government, the reality of the
        consequences in PPP(Purchasing Power Package) for the U.S. Dollar in
        light of Feds Q1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and more “easings” on the
        price of gasoline at the pump in “Yourtown” U.S.A., Hardly
        addresses the “Three moving part” lifetime guarantee power
        trains, existing and coming to market, nano carbon super capacitor
        power storage with pulsed D.C. Charging /discharging systems and
        inductive pulsed D.C. power return systems – as in the Threos car’s
        claims from China and others, also having extremely high duty cycles
        and longevity now, even a magnitude greater than current battery technologies,
        higher “Energy Densities” than gasoline too. lighter weight hemp fibre
        technologies from U. of Alberta, Canada, (see also hemp Lotus) and
        carbon fibre technologies from Asia, reducing weight, enhancing
        mileage, of “one purchase in a lifetime” electric cars. This very
        20th Century contemporary view, also is blinkered from the Asian 21st
        Century realities, and is very flag waving and patriotic, but nonsense
        by current realities, and 21st century measurements and metrics
        rarely understood in America?

        • You forgot the $330 billion a year the G20 countries pump into energy subsides (OECD figure: ).

          In Canada, we are only kicking in 2.8 billion of that this year… and its being phased out by 2017. But the legacy effect from this and others tax payer incentives to oil producers will be with us for some time…

  • Boywonder

    How many chargers will be needed to replace $1B a day worth of imported oil?

    There may not be enough free renewable energy to charge such cars, so these cars would be placing an extra burden on the grid sources that burn coal and other fuels.

    • T Adkins

       The number depends on many factors say if we were to replace cars that got 20mpg and drove 20,000 miles in a year, with EVs

      Replacing 104,357 cars with an equal number of EVs would displace the use of $1million dollars in gas per day with gas at $3.50 per gallon. 1000 time as many would displace $1B of gas that is 10.4 million EVs. This is if all those factors such as: miles drive per year, mpg, cost of gas stay the same.

      • Whoa whoa whoa “T”, you’re conveniently forgetting to include the HUGE amount of oil and emissions and resources that would have to go into building those EVs and recycling the ICE cars – not to mention the costs involved!  TERRIBLE idea … the greenest cars are the ones that use the fewest resources, and it takes massive amounts of energy to build a new car.

        Kill off the clunkers, maintain the cleaner examples, and – when you MUST build something new – build it to last.  Don’t build some awful Volt thing.

        • Volt is so 20th Century America! Check out the Threos, check out nano carbon super capacitor pulsed D.C. computer controlled systems.Ceck out the 21st Century Sciences!

          • Zer0Sum

            You got a link to the threos?

        • T Adkins

          It was just an exercise to show the amount of cars that would need to be removed or replaced to displace a set dollar amount of gasoline.

          I am pleased you were able to show that there is more that would be involved in the endeavor.

    • Nope! Even Boone D. Pickens said that the American Prairie Wind Corridor contained more “Energy” a year! that all Saudi Arabia has in the ground, And: Americans piss this away to the wind – every year! sonofabitch! and pay with lives and indebtedness to a communist system for money for foreign oil! South Western U.S.A. a treasure trove of Solar energy ! now! ballast this Solar richness with the latest nano carbon super Capacitor pulsed D,C, charge Discharge system electric cars, and the cycle of night to day becomes insignificant! Wind variations – same story! America has such nano carbon super capacitors! So do the folks in China! The Threos car’s claims: a fine example of what is coming down the road at you!
      moreover: elelctric bullet trains as found commonly in Europe, Asia running at 320 kph, replace oil intensive jet flights there now! Replace White knuckle, sweaty ass, seat belted, expensive risky, long car trips with bar cars, lounge seats wifi connectivity, meals, full washrooms, and climate controlled comfort for their peons! Coming to America? Ask a corporation near you? Power supplies? Thorium LFTR reactors coming very soon! See U tube videos from China. 21st Century belongs to the Global Village!

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