The charging situation for EV drivers on the go is currently a bit tenuous. For the most part, if you drive an electric car, you’re doing the lion’s share of your charging at home or at work — or both — probably on a slower Level 2 charger. Shell has aims at changing that, because right now it’s not making any money on you cheap louts who don’t stop in for a coffee and pastry every third morning on your way to the office now that you don’t need to fill up a tank of petroleum distillate to get there.
Of course, there is an actual need for publicly available quick chargers, just as there is a need for well-if-not-clean-at-least-they’re-there public restrooms on the road. One of the many issues I’ve found with the current public charging infrastructure is that it is often in poorly lit locations, usually grocery store parking lots, without so much as a cover to keep the rain or snow or wind away. There’s something reassuring about a gas station in the middle of the night on a road trip that you just don’t find in the parking lot of a closed-for-the-night Wegmans.
While I would much prefer EV infrastructure (especially those placed along interstates) were built in conjunction with interesting roadside attractions, small museums, sit-down restaurants, or gyms instead of junk food and gun magazine 7-Elevens, I guess it’s better to go with what we know than tear down the establishment and start again. No wait, it definitely isn’t better. But that’s what we’re going to get, because Shell says so.
Shell recently opened the first of what is sure to be many EV stations, converting one of its gasoline stations in the UK to 175 kW Tritium chargers. This business model makes sense for the petroleum conglomerate, as it follows everyone else into the transition to electric. This particular station in Fulham, London has been outfitted with nine chargers, a cafe and convenience store, and a public sitting area with WiFi. Neat.
If I might make a few tweaks to this design, especially for the American market, if you’re reading Shell, please add some pull-through stations. Not least because Americans are terrible at backing into or out of parking spaces, but because electric pickups are going to be all the rage in the next decade, and it’ll be a nightmare pulling in and backing out with a trailer on the back. Just, you know, just trust me on this one.
On the plus side, quick charging visits, especially those on longer road trips, are most efficient when they’re around 15 minutes, so I would expect a station like this to push through a similar number of customers per hour as a typical gasolinera does. And if battery and charging tech continues to improve at the massive pace it has over the last decade, it’ll soon be even shorter!