Electric Vehicle Monday

A couple of interesting news stories crossed the wire recently, with respect to electric vehicles (H/T Reilly Brennan).

In The Drive, John Voelcker explains all the caveats around GM’s recent announcement targeting an all-electric light duty vehicle fleet by 2035.

“Many people and companies aspire to many things. I aspire to get back in shape after a year of mostly isolation, for instance. Whether it actually happens is a very different story.”

In Harvard Business Review, a trio of academics suggest that automotive manufacturers follow Tesla’s lead and divert a little bit (ahem, a billion dollars each) to building out an electric vehicle charging network.

There’s a fair bit to take issue with in the analysis, starting with this confident but unsupported assertion:

“The reason why consumers still choose Teslas over products like Audi’s eTron or attractive EVs from GM’s Buick, Cadillac, GMC, and Chevy brands is perhaps surprisingly simple. They can drive their Teslas for long distances in full confidence that they will find convenient locations at which to recharge their vehicle.”

But the article raises a question that seems obvious but hadn’t occurred to me (at least not in any deep way) — why don’t gas stations install electric charging units?

The HBR article makes passing mention of this:

“Many existing fossil fuel energy firms, for example, have gas station assets that will eventually become stranded and could be repurposed for electric vehicles.”

But the analysis doesn’t go much deeper than that.

This is a question that charging network startups like Blink must think about constantly.

For sure, the economics are different. Charging cars takes much longer, so vehicle turnover is much lower. Gas stations are often affiliated with oil extraction companies, which might complicate adding electric power stations connected to the normal grid. Probably there are permitting issues.

But none of these seem insurmountable, especially as electric vehicle sales begin to increase and seem poised to explode.

And yet…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gas station with electric charging bays. So what’s the story?

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