The world of electric vehicles (EVs) has become more mainstream in recent years. As more people switch to electric cars, the need for charging amenities has grown. Unfortunately, EV charging stations often lack essential amenities such as food, bathrooms, and trash cans, making the charging experience less than ideal for many. While gas stations are equipped with conveniences to keep drivers busy while their tanks refuel, EV charging stations are still struggling to keep up.
The Disappointing Charging Experience: EV owners require a good charging experience to keep their trust in the product. However, according to JD Power, a research firm that keeps close tabs on consumer sentiment around EVs, drivers are consistently unhappy with the availability of things to do while charging their cars. Getting a solid charge typically requires about 30 minutes, much longer than the wait to pump a full tank of gas. Having basic amenities like bathrooms, food, and entertainment can make this waiting period more bearable and increase the adoption of EVs.
The Drawbacks of Non-Amenities: Without any basic amenities, most EV owners are forced to stay in their car or nearby, usually occupying their time with their mobile phones. This kind of experience can be detrimental in keeping EV owners engaged. If EV charging companies are not careful, they may forfeit an opportunity to attract and retain new customers. Hence, charging stations need to adopt a more proactive approach in meeting the needs of their customers. Some charging stations have started providing auxiliary local services such as restaurants, coffee shops, and waiting areas with comfortable seating.
The Inconvenience Factor: Charging stalls need to be in convenient locations as well. EV drivers are taking longer trips and would appreciate the charging stations having food, snacks, and drinks, which would cut down the wait time and make the charging process painless. Charging networks have generally installed their plugs at shopping malls, supermarkets, banks, hotels, or anywhere else with some extra parking space, so they depend on nearby/adjacent businesses to provide basic services. Some leads have taken this further, providing special deals or discounts for charging station customers. For instance, in some charging stations, customers get free snacks or drinks when they charge their EVs.
The Solution: Charging networks are no longer pleased with just offering charging stations. A shift towards creating a better experience for EV owners has been observed. Combining EV charging stations with auxiliary services such as clean bathrooms, comfortable waiting areas, free Wi-Fi, cafes, markets, play areas for children, and even shopping is an excellent addition that would keep plenty of EV owners happy and use it frequently. For instance, Circle K, a convenience store chain, has started a pilot project in Norway, to roll out EV charging stations that incorporate charging stalls, a convenience store, seating areas, an ATM, and bathrooms.
The Future: Evolving the charging station experience could increase the adoption of electric vehicles as more customers would become comfortable with and probably prefer an EV over the traditional gas-powered vehicle. As EV ownership continues to rise, one can expect to see charging stations evolve their amenities to improve EV charging experiences.
EV charging stations could soon offer lounges, restaurants, and even a drive-in movie theater
EV buyers should expect better access to Doritos and bathrooms as more convenience store chains, gas stations, and travel centers get into the charging game, said Loren McDonald, founder and CEO of EVAdoption, an EV-industry consulting firm.
“In the future, a much higher percentage [of chargers] are going to be at companies that are already in what you would call the fuel, service, and food business,” he said. “That’s a really encouraging positive trend that is going to start to fix some of this.”
EV charging networks need to be innovative in providing a comfortable, convenient charging experience that allows people to do more than sit and wait. EV owners demand better amenities that go beyond just charging their cars. Incorporating clean bathrooms, comfortable waiting areas, free Wi-Fi, cafes, markets, play areas for children, and even shopping amenities into the charging process could revolutionize the EV industry, making charging stations more convenient, accessible, and reachable. By doing so, the EV industry would take another step towards making electric cars more convenient and accessible to everyone.