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Would free Level II Waypoint charging influence your stop at a popular tourist attraction?

  • Yes, most likely.

  • No, it would make little difference.

  • Only if I was really interested in the attraction itself.

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am the owner of a popular craft distillery located on a farm 60 miles west of Chicago (1.5 miles from interstate access). We are in negotiations with Rivian to possibly install a couple of Level II Waypoint chargers for public use. I have signed an NDA so I must be a bit vague here - but suffice to say installing (and operating) said chargers comes with a significant investment on our part. My question to forum members is do you see much value (as the traveling EV public) in this kind of charger? Without fast charging, the best you could expect is 20-25 miles of charge per hour. Average visits to our facility are about 1-2 hours for a tour, taste, maybe a cocktail and a visit through our gift shop. The Rivian Waypoint charging network is EV agnostic. We can choose whether or not to charge $ for use (likely not). We would get listed on maps/route planning etc. Definitely some marketing tie ins (sustainability - we have our own solar generation, etc). In general, would you be influenced to visit or make a stop by a Waypoint charger or is it just a “bonus” if you do? Interested in your thoughts… (one other note - the nearest fast charger of any type is 30+ miles away).
 

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I'm guessing your in or near DeKalb, home of NIU. I look forward to seeing your "distillery" listed on my (eventual) Rivian charging station display map/list and stopping in for savory whiskey (and ginger). 🥃😉
 

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I know you can't go into detail here but would most of your cost be related to installation or footing the bill for people who charge at your place?

I have gone on record on multiple occasions that Rivian is wasting their money with this. But that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense for you (excuse the double-negative).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I know you can't go into detail here but would most of your cost be related to installation or footing the bill for people who charge at your place?

I have gone on record on multiple occasions that Rivian is wasting their money with this. But that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense for you (excuse the double-negative).
Most of the cost is up front. Chargers and installation. Significantly more expensive than a home charger. Then there is the ongoing cost of electricity (should we provide it for free). Even though we are on our own solar, it is a net metering system that when built 4 years ago wasn’t sized for an EV charging load so we’d need more net electricity from the grid. And also there is an ongoing monthly service fee for the Rivian Waypoint network and maintenance. We could put in a slightly smaller generic Level II charger on our own but we would lose visibility on the network (where we think much of the marketing value lives).
 

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I wouldn't go out of my way for a L2 EVSE, since they take a long time to regain significant charge. However, having a L2 EVSE at a destination I would otherwise want to go is a huge plus, and if I was considering two stops -- one with charging and one without -- I would certainly give preference to the one with convenient charging.

A distillery/brewery is a fantastic location for a L2 EVSE. Please install some!
 

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I have been thinking a lot about longer road trips and planning those trips with strategically located charging stations to make the overall road trip more enjoyable. If we are going to be charging and stopping, you better believe we are going to be looking for stuff to do while we wait. Sound like a slightly longer wait for a charge will fit nicely with the avg length of visit to your destination. If planning becomes more important (which it will for longer trips), you will likely have an excellent demographic for your destination to spend more money. If I were to bet, I would think that your EV demographic will fall on the higher side of the fence when it comes to spend. Maybe that is self-fulfilling based on charge times, but the installation cost, should (at least in theory) have a fairly short duration payback period based on spend for EV consumers. Just make sure that they aren't there too long to be over-served, and that they take some for the road!
 

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There are options for either 1 or 2 vehicles per charging pedestal . I think we would choose the 2 vehicle pedestal.
I suspect you would initially install one pedestal (2 charging ports) or are thinking more? If only one pedestal, consider placing it where you can add more pedestals in the future. Lately I get more frequent notifications (via PlugShare) of nearby charging stations that all charging ports are in-use. So with more and more EVs hitting the road, good chance potential customers with EVs won't consider stopping at your location if all ports are in use or have a strong history of that happening.

Have you decided the availability of the free charging? In other words, free 24x7 or only when you're open or some other time interval? Or a time limit on a free charge session? Will Rivian even provide you with that flexibility with the Way Point chargers? Some charging stations provided by businesses I've pulled into are only free (available?) while their open and/or are limited to an hour or two of charging. IIRC they were Volta or ChargePoint chargers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I suspect you would initially install one pedestal (2 charging ports) or are thinking more? If only one pedestal, consider placing it where you can add more pedestals in the future. Lately I get more frequent notifications (via PlugShare) of nearby charging stations that all charging ports are in-use. So with more and more EVs hitting the road, good chance potential customers with EVs won't consider stopping at your location if all ports are in use or have a strong history of that happening.

Have you decided the availability of the free charging? In other words, free 24x7 or only when you're open or some other time interval? Or a time limit on a free charge session? Will Rivian even provide you with that flexibility with the Way Point chargers? Some charging stations provided by businesses I've pulled into are only free (available?) while their open and/or are limited to an hour or two of charging. IIRC they were Volta or ChargePoint chargers.
That’s an excellent question re time limits/free sessions. If the Waypoint network allows for it I think I would offer free <2hr charging during Biz hours and paid charging other times (mostly to discourage off hours loitering). Maybe off completely at night for security purposes. Good thoughts. Thank you.
 

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The way people use EVs is a little different than how they use ICE vehicles. With EVs, you plan on stopping more often for shorter charges - you don't just run the tank down then search for the nearest station. Even a 1 hour charge will let you reach more local people because they can drive farther and charge a bit while enjoying your products.

So for me, the way I travel is to go from point of interest to point of interest, and since there are so many interesting places where I can stop, anything that differentiates one from another influences my decision. If you have chargers and those chargers are free to me, I will be stopping there - I will even be going out of my way or changing my route to stop there. Even if I am just traveling down the interstate, I would rather stop at someplace nice than to be stuck in a fast food parking lot while charging.

I don't think the chargers will necessarily help you get more local customers, but they will extend the region that EVs consider local. The market share of EVs is rising, so you will be reaching an ever-growing population. I personally believe we're near an inflection point - with something like 50 new EV models being released in the next two years, I think getting the attention of EV owners is a wise growth move. Plus the demographics of EV owners, being older and more wealthy than average, means that they are also more likely to be customers of your (I assume) more premium products. Of course if instead you cater to the Señor Frogs crowd, you're probably not seeing a lot of EV owners.

As far as the financial equation, we can't really say because we don't know what Rivian is bringing to the table. Are they subsidizing the charger or the electricity? Rivian chargers will definitely bring in Rivian owners and EV owners in general if they're free. What that amounts to in terms of cost of customer acquisition is really something that only you can calculate. I would guess that Rivian owners and Tesla owners at least would be inclined to leave with a bottle after a tour or a taste, and you easily cover your cost and maybe you gain a long-term customer that way. You know your business and your location better than any of us. Many breweries/wineries/distilleries cluster together to draw the weekend tasting crowd - having chargers would have somewhat the same effect even if you weren't particularly near any other tasting rooms, but you might also consider that having other businesses in your area that also have Rivian chargers would increase the chance that a Rivian owner would visit you. Getting on the radar for day-trips from Chicago could greatly expand your customer base, and having the charger is one way to do that. Plus, you know, help the climate a bit, which could fit into your marketing if you are a selling yourself as a regional distillery with regional ingredients.

With federal tax incentives (and local? I don't know about IL) I would be surprised if your pay-back time was more than 5 years. I think it could be much less if this strategy helps you grow. If Rivian helps you finance that, your up-front cost would be significantly less plus you could expense the payments rather than depreciate the assets.
 

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I’ll say yes, but caveat it with “only if it’s in a remote location where charging is helpful”. Places that have chargers definitely score points with me though, regardless of whether I need to use them. But it would necessarily drive a decision on whether to go there or not.
 

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Let's calculate how much the electricity will cost you. Assume that:

1 kWh during the day costs you $0.25.
The charging station is occupied 5 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The charger provides 7.2kW

If any of those assumptions are wrong you can just multiply the result below by the fraction by which they're wrong. For example, if your electricity costs $0.20/kWh, multiply the result below by 0.2/0.25 = 0.8. Or if it's only 180 days per year, multiply by 180/365.

Using the above assumptions, you'll spend 5 hrs/day * 7.2 kW * 365 days/year * $0.25 /kWh = $3285 per year on electrons. It could be less (or more), see above.
Plus annual amortization for the capital layout.

Frankly I wouldn't do it but unless you have a particular marketing angle. Or just want to spread the EV word, together with Rivian, which is great, but that's philosophy and not business.
 

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It's a business decision - what is the payback period for the up-front investment. Philosophy can allow you to accept a longer payback for good reasons, but it's still a business decision.

Let me extend your calculation - if the station is occupied 5 hours a day, that means approximately 5 customer cars a day, assuming they spend on average 1 hour at the distillery. That is 5 sales. Multiply by your average transaction, which only the owner knows but could range from just drinks @$10/person to a tasting flight to buying a bottle at $40? etc. 5 sales could easily total up to $100 dollars. A day. For 365 days a year. That's TEN TIMES what you calculate you would spend on electricity.

So if 1 out of 10 people using your chargers are new customers or customers you have brought back for a second visit, then the electrical pays for itself.

Then figure in commercial rates for the electricity and possible discounted rates for EV charging, and it gets even better. Average electricity cost in the US for businesses is ~$0.11, which is half your estimate, so again the equation gets better.

Bottom line, I think it's probably a good business decision, and it certainly will pay for itself over time. The only question is exactly how much time and can you afford any up-front outlay.
 

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There are options for either 1 or 2 vehicles per charging pedestal . I think we would choose the 2 vehicle pedestal.
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I believe that with a Level 2 charger having two vehicles charging at the same time they will share the total power available. If the charger is only supplying say 8kWhr total, this is going to be a very slow charge for anytime two vehicles are using it concurrently.
 

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Rivian home chargers are 11.5kW (48 amp), so I expect the RAN chargers would be the same. I don't think we'll see Rivian installing those small 6.6kW chargers that are all the rage.

If Rivian really is 11.5kW, that makes these charging points all the more attractive.
 

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Rivian home chargers are 11.5kW (48 amp), so I expect the RAN chargers would be the same. I don't think we'll see Rivian installing those small 6.6kW chargers that are all the rage.

If Rivian really is 11.5kW, that makes these charging points all the more attractive.
32A chargers were plentiful and "cheap" so that's what a lot of commercial installations used. They also tend to get installed on two legs of 3-phase power, which only nets 208V instead of the more typical 240V that a residential split-voltage installation would have. 32A @ 208V = 6.6kW

The Rivian EVSE installed in the same way (208V) would get 9.9kW instead of 11.5kW. Better than 6.6kW, for sure... But not the full potential, unfortunately.
 
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