Our local Target store has just switched on six new 150 kW CCS chargers (five have two CCS cables, but only one can be used at a time, the sixth has a single CCS and a 50 kW CHAdeMO cable). The chargers are all part of the Electrify America network.
Initially, this seemed like a great idea, and it is certainly nice to see a company other than Tesla installing more than one or two chargers in a single location. Thinking about it more though, I started to wonder whether having these rapid chargers at Target made sense for Target customers, and by extension for Target themselves. I have had similar thoughts about the Tesla supercharger located across the island at the South Shore shopping center. Rapid chargers like these make perfect sense for freeway services, and having a few makes sense for those who live in apartments where charging at home may not be an option, but they do not tend to require long charging sessions, and at the prices Electrify America has set people are not going to want to hang around any longer than absolutely necessary.
What’s In It For Target?
I’m not sure what Target sees as the benefit to their partnership with Electrify America. Perhaps they are happy with just contributing to improving the local air quality by supporting electric vehicles. Somehow though I doubt that would be sufficient. Most retail establishments that install EV chargers do so to encourage more people to visit their stores. Makes sense since it takes some time to charge an EV, even on a DC rapid charger like these Electrify America 150 kW units. Problem is it does not take that long.
If your EV can take 125 kW or more when you plug in, the charging will cost you roughly $1/minute. At the slower rates the price per minute drops, but of course it will take longer to charge. The current pricing (without the membership option) is as follows:
The price band is selected based on the peak rate taken during the session. There is also a $0.40/min penalty for staying connected after charging is complete (with a 10 minute grace period).
All of that combines to mean that customers who visit this location to charge their cars are not going to want to hang around in the store for long. Perhaps they’ll grab a coffee at the in-store Starbucks, but they certainly will not be spending time browsing in the store.
How Could It Be Better?
There are six chargers with 150 kW per unit there. That is 900 kW of total power. There are just about 40 spaces in the side lot where they installed these chargers. That amount of power could have provided two/three of the 150 kW rapid DC chargers for those who need a quick fill up, and then fitted all the remaining spaces in that side lot with 11.5 kW AC chargers. Price the AC units per kWh, or make them free, as many other retail locations do (South Shore in Alameda has two Volta AC units that are free).
Customers using these chargers will not feel rushed to move their car the way those on a rapid charger might. Add a two or three hour time limit, and they will not be blocked for long periods of time, but they will give enough time for somebody to shop in Target.
Better still, Target will be able to claim they have charging for 40+ electric vehicles. That is far more than most other locations (I’ve only seen numbers like that on very busy supercharger locations, like Kettleman City on I5).
To be honest, even 50 kW units would have made more sense. Installing two 150 kW units and twelve 50 kW units (which are slower to charge cars, allowing more time for customers to browse the store) would have made more sense than what they have installed. Unless, of course, there was no intention for the users of these chargers to shop for long in Target.