I parked my Nissan Leaf at the charging station in front of Savemart in Auburn, CA, clicked on start, put my EVgo card up to scan, and it didn’t work. I was just about to try it again when another Leaf driver got out of his car, put his iPhone up to the charger and it started working. I told him my charger wasn’t working, he said, “let me try it.” I stepped back, watched him thinking what a nice guy that he’s going to use his EVgo card for a fellow earth warrior. Instead, he used a QR code on an app called DrivetheARC.
He told me that DrivetheARC was free charging. Free? Who pays, I asked. I don’t know, it works he replied, “I get my electricity free, so I shop here.”
And just like that, a brand loyal customer is born. In the twenty minutes that it took me to buy the one item (which turned into two items) the DC Fast Charging added sixty driving miles to my car. It would have taken all night at home to get that much charge on my car, as I don’t have an EV charger.
If you own a Nissan Leaf download the DrivetheARC app and login. Specific areas in California allow you to use charging units for free. One area is from Monterey to Lake Tahoe. Once you sync your car with the DrivetheARC app you can;
1. view your cruising range and EV station’s availability
2. input or update your SOC (state of charge)
3. Check your driving range from your current location
The app will also tell you if there is a charger available. As is with most apps, they will take your information and manipulate the data so that they can see which chargers are being used, at what level, by what type of car, and for how long. They probably gather more information than that, but that is what I see right off.
What is Drive the ARC?
ARC is Advanced Recharging Corridor (ARC), a Corridor created by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) (Japan’s most significant public R&D management organization), and the State of California’s Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, in partnership with Nissan Motor Co., Nissan North America, Kanematsu and EVgo.
California has designated the routes that are most frequently traveled and installed charging units that take EVgo cards or DrivetheARC QR codes. If you’ve ever driven from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe on a Friday, you know that what would typically take 3-4 hours can take twice as long. Traffic jams can eat up your gasoline or energy. It’s not a problem to jump off the highway and fill up, grab a cup of joe and be back on the highway in thirty minutes. Now you can jump off at Elm Ave, charge for thirty minutes, shop at Savemanrt, CVS, Starbucks, Flour bakery or buy clothes in the same shopping center, all while using DrivetheARC or EVgo.
Listen to Dave Stall and Michele on the Green Machine radio show talk about DrivetheARC charges your Nissan Leaf for free
“At Nissan, our goal is to increase widespread EV use so that we can benefit the environment on a global basis; the opening of the DRIVETHEARC corridor represents a significant milestone for the further adoption of EVs,” said Hitoshi Kawaguchi, Chief Sustainability Officer of Nissan Motor Co. “A robust public EV charging network is a key factor for stimulating further EV utilization and eventual EV market expansion. We are delighted to be able to provide Northern California with a fast charging network that covers major points of interest and recreation for drivers.”
EVgo has extended California’s promotional pricing through December 31st, 2018. Customers on the EVgo DC fast charger membership plan in California will pay $0.15/minute for DC Fast charging, and customers on Pay As You Go will pay $0.20/minute. After December 31st, California pricing will match all other markets: Between $0.18-0.21/minute for members and $0.25-0.35/minute for Pay As You Go, drivers. The monthly membership fee, session length, and Level 2 rates will not change after the promotional period. So basically, even if you don’t have DrivetheARC, charging is fast and cheaper than gas.
I got sixty extra driving miles in the twenty minutes of charging while shopping. If that were a vehicle that got twenty miles per gallon, it would have cost me at least $10.50 and another twenty minutes after driving to a gasoline station. I spent $5.37 in the store, $4.00 more than I was going to, enjoying their air conditioning. Because of DrivetheARC, I spent nothing on charging the Nissan Leaf.
More and more people are becoming earth warriors; people who are buying electrified vehicles that can be charged partially or solely with domestic electricity. It took less than an hour for Volvo to sell all 20 of the all-new Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered luxury plug-in hybrids. Jaguar is coming out with an I-Pace electric vehicle that will give Tesla a run for their money. For the first time automakers are now required to deliver ZEVs to meet specific sales goals in nine states or about thirty-three percent of the National Sales. That is part of the reason every manufacturer is coming out with electrified vehicles in the next couple of years.
How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?
The average cost of electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kWh. The guy I talked to at Starbucks, while waiting for my car to charge, drives his car 15,000 miles per year and pays about $3.50 a gallon (that’s a good deal in California!) on a vehicle that gets 25 mpg. If I drive 15,000 miles a year in electric mode and pay 12 cents per kWh I spend $600.00 per year on charging it, while Mr. Starbucks spends $2,100.
One of the reasons electricity doesn’t have the spikes in price that gasoline does is because electricity is a domestic energy. I can’t wait till the day each charging unit is energized by the Sun. If this is the future of domestic energy, energizing while I shop, sign me up.