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Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles Adding Coffee, Lounges

Future EV charging stations will make waiting less of a hassle

  • Charging electric cars at public charging stations can be a hassle.
  • Some companies are trying to make the process more comfortable and convenient.
  • Pilot programs are underway to determine the best way to take the pain out of the process.
  • One of them wisely puts chargers where you’re already spending your time and money.

Electric vehicle owners know that waiting for their car to recharge at a public charging station is not fun. It can feel like a waste of time, especially if the charger is malfunctioning or isn't charging at its maximum rate. However, companies including Audi, Electrify America and Volvo are exploring ways to reduce inconvenience by creating waiting lounges and partnering with coffee shops to make the process less painful.

Customer feedback inspires Electrify America to improve the charging experience

Electrify America is a national charging station network with more than 700 stations operating in nearly every state in the nation. The company continues to build new stations, with nearly 100 underway, and some of those will be what Electrify America calls "flagship charging facilities" planned for key markets.

In a statement, Giovanni Palazzo, president and CEO of Electrify America, said: "Our customer research shows the need to transition to a more inviting charging experience that accommodates the human experience with waiting areas and other conveniences."

Based on this customer feedback, Electrify America will roll out charging station improvements in select locations. Highlights include customer lounges, outside waiting areas covered by solar canopies to shelter against sun and rain, and additional lighting and security cameras when EV owners are charging at night. Electrify America also plans operations at popular shopping destinations, complete with valet charging and curbside delivery of the recharged vehicle.

Additionally, the company has announced a next-generation family of 150-kW and 350-kW charging stations that it says will simplify the charging process.

Audi is testing charging hubs in Germany

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Automakers are considering similar improvements to the customer recharging experience. For example, Audi recently announced plans to pilot test what it calls "charging hubs" with indoor waiting lounges stocked with food, drinks and other amenities. Reservations are required, ensuring that a charger is ready and available for use when a customer arrives.

Service won't be limited to Audi owners either. The company says anyone who owns an EV can use the charging hub. The first Audi charging hub opened in Germany at the end of 2021.

Volvo and ChargePoint choose an obvious partner in Starbucks

Volvo and its charging station network partner, ChargePoint, might have the best idea of them all. A pilot program to install 60 ChargePoint DC fast chargers at 15 Starbucks locations kicks off this summer and will populate a 1,350-mile route between Denver and Seattle. You might be stopping at these coffee shops to work remotely, meet friends, or grab an afternoon pick-me-up anyway, so it makes sense to have charging stations handy while you sip your crazily specific special order.

The chargers will carry branding for all three companies, so you'll know whom to thank for their convenience and perhaps even do a little research on the new 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge. Also, Volvo owners can use the chargers for free or at a discounted rate thanks to the automaker's generous free charging terms.

You'll still need to pay five bucks or more for the coffee, though.

Edmunds says

People already hate going to gas stations, and the idea of spending significantly more time parked at public EV charging stations waiting for batteries to recharge can be a hindrance to EV adoption. By offering protection from weather conditions combined with added comfort, convenience — and yes, coffee, — both car companies and charging station networks can better cater to their customers. Cool.