EV Charging

Are Electric Car Charging Stations Free?

Are Electric Car Charging Stations Free?
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I have to admit I was a bit incensed the other day when I parked in one of the electric vehicle spots at my local shopping center. Having once provided charging for free, the owners of the garage were now demanding payment for the service. To add insult to injury, the only way to pay for the charge was to download their app and give them a bunch of personal information. No bueno!

This development shouldn’t have surprised me. The company that manages the shopping center is notoriously greedy. A few years ago they began making customers and employees at the shopping center pay for parking. Still, this got me thinking: are we headed in this direction with every electric car charging station?

The Good News

The very, very good news to be more specific is that the vast majority of charging stations are still free. Many municipalities recognize the value that electric vehicles contribute to society and have taken steps to encourage EV ownership. Several businesses such as Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic will often provide free charging for EVs in order to attract customers. I have gone out of my way several times to shop at these stores because of this and I know I’m not the only one.

Apps like plugshare are an excellent resource for finding a nearby, free charging station. Several of these apps even have a trip planner feature that allows the user to find a route with free charging stations along the way! I have not been brave enough to attempt a long-distance trip in my EV, but I may be able to in the future.

Tesla Supercharging Network 

As if non-Tesla EV owners needed another reason to be jealous of our brothers and sisters who do drive Teslas, Elon and company have developed a nationwide network of charging stations. As of the date of this writing, there are 1,604 supercharger stations with 14,081 superchargers available for use in North America. These charging stations are only equipped to service Tesla models however, so the rest of us are out of luck.

Tesla is constantly adding new charging stations. The company is also partnering with several hotel chains, restaurants, and shopping centers to further this network. The best part is that supercharging is completely free for new Model X and S owners! Model 3 hours receive 1000 kW hours for free per year…not too shabby!

The Bad News

While most charging stations are currently free, there is evidence to suggest that this trend may be going away soon. As we mentioned here, Volkswagen is investing over $2 billion in its “Electrify America” program. The goal of this initiative is to drastically improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure. As fantastic as this goal is, VW plans on charging users for the privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why companies feel they need to charge users. Charging stations are expensive to install and electricity is not free. I just hope that these companies appreciate what EV drivers like me are trying to do by going all-electric and take that into consideration when pricing is set.

What do our readers think about the future of charging? Will we ever get to a point where free or at least affordable charging stations can be found in all corners of our country? Please leave us a comment and let us know.

Source | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Neil Brooks
Neil Brooks is an electric vehicle owner and lover currently based in the greater Washington D.C. area. Neil is a fan of all things electric and may be the only person in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States to own both an electric leaf blower and an electric chainsaw. When he's not busy blogging about the latest on electric technology he enjoys grilling, rock climbing, and taking naps in his hammock.