As history has proven, there comes a time when innovative technology reaches a pinnacle, trickling down until it becomes common practice. It’s generally assumed that electric vehicles (EVs) are on the path toward market dominance in the automotive industry, and with that, mass consumption must ensue. With c-store chains like Road Ranger on board, the future looks bright — electrifying, some might say.
Since its inception in 1984, the Road Ranger brand has continuously kept up with the innovative trends of the future. That’s why it comes as no surprise that we celebrated the grand opening of our first EV charging station on March 8 at our new travel center in Waco, Texas.
The Waco Road Ranger travel center is the closest DCFS (direct-current fast charger) charging hub near the Waco airport. Waiting to enter the market until now allowed us to jump in when the technology was much more advanced.
Road Ranger selected a Boost Charger. This type of charger has a maximum output per connector of 150 kilowatt-hours (kWh), delivering approximately 200 miles in 15 minutes. A single EV can charge at 150 kWh, or two EVs can charge simultaneously at 75 kWh. Road Ranger’s Waco travel center features four fast-charging EV stations with eight lanes and has the capability to charge up to eight EVs at one time.
From its infancy, Road Ranger’s goal has always been to create a brand that was there to serve travelers, providing innovative solutions, modern approaches and fresh alternatives to keep the consumer happy, fueled and sent safely back on the road. Today, Road Ranger operates 46 travel centers throughout the Midwestern corridor.
As the Road Ranger fuel network continues to grow, we aspire to play a much larger role in building an EV infrastructure for the future.
Building the Network
How does the addition of one EV charging station make an impact on consumer adoption of EVs?
According to recent surveys, it is estimated that, to achieve mass consumer conversion, the manufacturer suggested retail price of an EV needs to average $36,000. Today, three of the best-selling EV base models are already within that price point. So, if the price of EVs isn’t holding the future back, what is?
Consumer research shows that efficient travel range must also be considered. The average consumer reports that to feel comfortable when considering an EV purchase, roughly 300 miles of range would be necessary. So, what is limiting the rangeability of these vehicles? It’s a no-brainer — battery charge. Although the ability to build a larger battery is viable, inevitably the cost of that battery increases the cost of the vehicle. Yet again slowing down mass consumption.
So, the larger question persists: What is keeping consumers from buying electric vehicles? Mass consumption will not happen until widespread fast charging is easily accessible. The obstacle to widespread adoption is known, but let’s look at the actual data: The average American lives five minutes from the local gas station. That same individual is reported to live 30 minutes away from the nearest supercharging station, according to an analysis by UBS.
Obviously, this is not a feasible infrastructure to increase the widespread adoption of EVs. You can’t sell the cars without the infrastructure.
Making It Work
So why don’t we see charging stations popping up at every mom-and-pop convenience store and travel center around the U.S.?
Although the offering of additional amenities at locations sounds appealing, most retailers are not jumping at the chance to get on board simply due to the high cost of utility fees and electrical installation costs. The cost to the operators can vary on several factors, including permitting, on-site electrical upgrades, supplemental fees, demand charges and more.
Nonetheless, as the world becomes more conscious of the various effects of carbon emissions and vehicle pollution, sustainability is at the forefront of Road Ranger’s business practice. Road Ranger is committed to improving the quality of life for the communities we serve, and that starts with being conscious of our effect on the environment and realizing electric mobility options play an important part in helping mitigate climate change.
As an effort to place value on environmental consciousness, installing EV charging stations at a Road Ranger location helps to establish forward movement in Road Ranger’s internal sustainability initiative.
Beyond building a cleaner future, by adding this additional amenity to our already extensive collection of offerings, Road Ranger hopes to continue to grow a loyal customer base.
As any retailer will tell you, the goal is to build relationships with consumers and retain happy return customers by simply reaching their needs and providing a high standard of service.
As our proprietary app, Ranger Rewards, continues to evolve, Road Ranger looks forward to adopting loyalty perks for our members who choose to charge at Road Ranger stations in the future, deepening the customer relationship and building stronger brand loyalty.
By using EV consumer-specific technology platforms, Road Ranger is now able to connect with EV drivers throughout the U.S., allowing them to easily find, access and securely pay for charging at our locations. These stations are open and available to consumers 24/7/365 to ensure that the consumer can get back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.
Road Ranger has committed to opening six EV charging stations to continue the goal of supporting the connection of the EV charging infrastructure, while also supplying the energy that our consumers are looking for when they show up at a Road Ranger travel center. All EV sites are set to be available to the public by the end of 2023.
KJ McCann is the digital & loyalty marketing manager for Road Ranger. She can be reached at [email protected].