The insanity of EV infrastructure (as a stumbling block to going electric)
So we decided to get a car and go electric…so there is a bit of context that is important to take into account with this choice:
- We don’t have a garage
- We don’t have a driveway
- We don’t have a secured parking place.
So now the questions start…in particular: How are you going to charge the car?!
We live in San Francisco, such a heart of progressive policies and sustainability. Surely this will be easy, right? Well, as it turns out, there is a city-owned parking lot a few blocks from our house. We have used Zipcars from this lot before so also knew that this lot has EV chargers! And they offer monthly parking rates! Ok, so we seemed set up to win.
When I found the first EV lease I was interested in, I decided before going through with the lease, it would be best to check my assumptions about the charging. I headed down to the lot in hopes of finding the attendant there…but with the pandemic, the attendant was no longer in the little booth and everything was now automated through a pay station. Ok…no problem, there’s a phone number on the old booth. I call and talk to a friendly person who gives me details about the monthly parking rates. However, when I ask about the EV charging, I get a succinct answer that “I don’t know, that is handled by another company.”
Unflappable, I proceed to the next obvious step. I walk over to the EV chargers and read what is on it. It has ChargePoint logo and a local number. So I dial that up…to my surprise the answer on the other ends announces itself as GetAround support. Now, pre-pandemic I do recall there being a number of GetAround spots in this lot but things are fallen in disarray and unclear what is actually happening. I ask about the charging and the support team seems to have no idea what I’m talking about.
Ok…now what…well, it says ChargePoint so certainly that should be easy to verify, right? I pull up the ChargePoint website on my phone and search for the area. Nothing shows. I call their support and they report no knowledge of the chargers in this lot.
How can this be this hard? I am literally at the site of the infrastructure and have already talked to 3 parties who seem to be involved. But I am determined…I have researched and know this is by far my best option for anything close by my home. If only I could find someone who knew about this! So I make it a habit to cruise by whenever I head out from the house on foot or on bike and have an extra minute.
M y next lucky strike is to find the actual parking lot management company on site! Two men were at work. I could tell from the frustrated expressions that the automated pay machines had a problem. I approached and asked if they had any idea how the chargers work…”no” was the curt answer. I realize this is one of those opportunities to open the eyes of people who don’t see the opportunity that the electrification movement represents. As they sort their technical issues, I find a time to share. “Look,” I say, “I would pay you today to get a monthly spot here if I could charge an EV right there,” pointing to the spots right in front of us. “And you could charge money for this, it could be extra revenue for you! And add a solar canopy and it would even make its own energy.” As I’m explaining this, the technician gets excited about all the tech I’m talking about. But clearly the business impact of selling another spot had an impact on the other chap dressed business casual. I am trying to illuminate the money left on the table for this company…and the city!
First attempt to solve for EV charging…failed. But, I’m persistent. I’ll be back with more lessons soon.