It sounds so obvious: public electric vehicle chargers should be located in publicwhere people usually gather. The reality has often been different: too many chargers tucked away in deserted parking lots or seemingly random locations. And because even the fastest DC chargers take roughly 30 minutes to charge an electric car, drivers and passengers have time to kill, including plenty of time to grab a bite to eat.

To keep cars and passengers filled, 7-Eleven and Subway are among the companies planning to offer electric vehicle charging along with their big sips and sandwiches.

7-Eleven considers its 7Charge network one of the largest fast-charging networks for convenience stores in the US. The company hasn’t given exact numbers on how many DC chargers it hopes to open, but 7-Eleven operates roughly 9,400 stores in the US and nearly 600 more in Canada. The company currently has over 30 fast charging stations in California, Colorado, Texas and Florida.

The new chargers are designed for owners of all electric vehicles, offering both a CCS (Combined Charging System) connector and a CHAdeMO connector. Tesla owners can already connect to CCS stations using an adapter. The 7Charge app will offer a station locator and a convenient payment method through a linked account.

7-Eleven is not alone. Subway will partner with GenZ EV Solutions in Miami to create “Subway EV Charging Oasis” parks with fast charging kiosks, picnic tables, Wi-Fi, playgrounds and restrooms. In California, all new vehicles must be either electric or plug-in hybrids by 2035. And the Taco Bell franchisee, with more than 300 locations, launched the first of 100 planned charging stations in California in San Francisco.

Restaurant and convenience store operators cite persistent gaps in food service payment systems, including in rural, urban and other underserved areas.

“Equal access to charging is essential to the adoption of electric vehicles, and Subway’s scale will play a major role in democratizing the charging infrastructure for millions of Americans,” said Jose Valls, CEO of GenZ EV Solutions.

An illustration showing cars parked at a subway charging station.Subway will partner with GenZ EV Solutions to roll out its “EV Charging Oasis” parks with charging, Wi-Fi, playgrounds and picnic tables.Metro

These new networks are meant to support President Biden’s plan to build 500,000 new electric vehicle chargers by 2030, up from 130,000 today. The moves also highlight Tesla’s foresight in building its own Supercharger network – the first built before it sold its first Model S in 2012 – specifically to ease range worries and reassure potential buyers that they can commit. longer Tesla rides. In February, Tesla agreed to open 3,500 of its Supercharger kiosks to non-Tesla customers by the end of 2024 as part of this $7.5 billion federal bid to expand connected infrastructure. Elon Musk’s company also plans to open access to 4,000 of its slower Level 2 chargers, most of which are located in high-traffic areas such as hotels and restaurants.

Aside from Tesla, most major automakers are avoiding being deeply involved in the charging business, like car companies that also operate gas stations. But with EVs set to grow to 5.8% of all new car sales in 2022, some of them are struggling to fill the void left by private chargers like Chargepoint, EVGo and Electrify America; the latter is funded by Volkswagen’s multi-billion dollar Dieselgate emissions fraud deal. And non-Tesla suppliers have often been criticized for clumsy or broken chargers.

Electric vehicles are finally fulfilling the dream of truly practical refueling on interstate flights and vacations without having to kill hours at every recharging stop.

A JD Power study of the charging experience of electric vehicle owners revealed many concerns, including that 20 percent of respondents who visited a public charging station found it broken or not working.

Aside from clumsy chargers or stations that dispense juice at slower-than-expected rates, other infamous issues include cords that are too short to easily reach EV charging ports. Tight parking spaces and poorly aligned chargers can make it difficult or impossible to access a power outlet, especially for more powerful electric SUVs and pickup trucks.

Taking matters into their own hands, Ford created “ChargeAngels” who personally visit charging stations, report any problems to operators and fix them so that Ford EV owners – the vast majority of whom drive their first EVs – are not disappointed. experience.

General Motors, for its part, is partnering with EVGo on a national network of 2,000 DC fast-charging kiosks located in 500 Pilot and Flying J travel centers. GM is also recruiting more than 4,400 dealers to build up to 10 Level 2 charging stations each, like dealers and key locations, including underserved urban and rural areas. According to the company, 90 percent of the US population lives within 10 miles of a GM dealer.

VW Electrify America is teaming with TravelCenters of America to install approximately 1,000 DC fast chargers at 200 TA/Petro locations along major highways. These chargers will include EA’s 350 kilowatt mega-power kiosks, which are currently among the most powerful public devices in the world.

Pair these industrial devices with EVs that can accept this level of power—those are 800 volt or higher architecture vehicles such as the Lucid Air, Porsche Taycan, or the latest Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis models—and the sluggish Level 2 chargers of old can seem almost obsolete in the public sphere. In my recent tests of models including the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia EV6 GT, these state-of-the-art EVs charged their batteries to 80 percent in 20 minutes or less. In other words, electric vehicles are finally making the dream of truly practical gas stations a reality on interstate flights and on vacation without having to kill hours at every charging stop. These 20-minute stops are, of course, perfect for a quick bite to eat on the road or a necessary rest stop on a family vacation.

Brent Gruber, CEO of JD Power’s global automotive division, welcomes the rapid proliferation of chargers. But Gruber says that simply increasing the number of stations is not enough.

“Stations should be added to areas where there are gaps on high traffic routes and areas of high population density for people who don’t have access to residential charging, but most importantly, they should be designed in such a way that so that users can do things while charging—regardless of the use case,” Gruber said. “Then we need to make sure these stations are reliable.”

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