Previously, I blogged on my suggestions for charging the C-Max Energi at home. According to Wikipedia.org, there were almost fourteen thousand public charging locations in the U.S. in October 2012. One fourth of these EV charging stations (sometimes called EVSE, for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) are in California. Now the bad news. Don’t count on a charging location existing. There are many reports on the internet of charging locations that are not correct. This shouldn’t be a problem with a C-Max Energi, where gasoline is always an option.
One of the best sites to find charging locations is PlugShare.com. It is more comprehensive than other sites, listing public stations as well as private residences that may allow you to charge your C-Max Energi. There are free PlugShare iPhone (iOS) and Android Apps.
Another good source to find charging stations is Google Maps. Type in “ev charging location near blank”, where blank is a location, such as a zip code. This is using the U.S. government’s data. The U.S. Department of Energy has an alternative fueling station locator that uses the same information as Google Maps (that is my understanding anyway). Although not as comprehensive as PlugShare.com, it is useful for finding EV charging locations, especially with Google Maps access.
One company providing charging stations is ChargePoint. According to their website, they have 9,993 charging locations. There is a ChargePoint App for iPhone (and iOS devices) and Android. This App can locate chargers, check pricing and reserve them. Walgreens has installed many free ChargePoint chargers throughout the country. In Utah, these chargers are often free and do not require a ChargePoint charging card. According to ChargePoint and some internet postings, some free ChargePoint chargers do require the ChargePoint card to access the charger, but there won’t be a fee associated with charging your C-Max Energi.
Another database of charging stations is OpenChargeMap. It has a substantial database with many locations.
C-Max Energi owners with the MyFord Mobile App for iPhone (iOS) or Android can search the MapQuest database of electric charging locations. Search MapQuest directly at MapQuest.com by entering a querying “ev charging location near blank”, where blank is a location, such as a zip code. At least in Utah, the MapQuest database is far less comprehensive than the government database used in Google Maps. The MyFordMobile app requires registration at the MyFordMobile.com web site. It’s possible to sign up in guest mode at the MyFordMobile.com web site rather than register your Ford vehicle. A previous blog listed MyFord Mobile training videos.
Another option is the CarStation website and free iPhone (iOS) and Android Apps. Like PlugShare.com, this is user supported. It is quite comprehensive and useful.
Blink sells residential and commercial chargers. Blink lists the locations of their chargers throughout the U.S.
GE sells WattStation chargers. An iPhone and Android app, WattStation Connect for EV Drivers (GE WattStation on Android), is available as a free download to find locations and pay for charging your C-Max Energi.
Chargelocator.com has an iPhone and Android app. The premium version is $4.99. There is also a free version. The database is also available online. The database didn’t appear to be very comprehensive.
For Canadians Sun Country, another manufacturer of chargers, has donated chargers stretching across Canada along the Trans-Canada highway from the east to west coast. The location of the chargers has not yet been made public.
According to PlugShare.com, the top cities for public electric vehicle charging stations per 100,000 residents are:
1. Portland with 11.1 stations per 100,000 residents
2. Dallas with 10.6
3. Nashville with 8.2
4. SF Bay Area with 6.6
5. Seattle with 6.5
6. Orlando with 6.3
7. Austin with 5.3
8. Tucson with 5.3
9. Honolulu with 5.1
10. Washington with D.C. Area 4.7
Besides Walgreens with an extensive number of charger locations, BestBuy, Ikea, Whole Foods, McDonalds, Macy’s and other national brands have installed a few public charging locations, often with excellent up-close parking locations.
The Huffingtonpost.com documented EV charging stations in or near three National Parks – Yellowstone, Zion, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park. For those traveling, some RV parks are making 240v outlets available for charging.
Charging locations that charge a fee may have a minimum charge of $1. That could be quite expensive. Check before charging. You may be paying the equivalent of several dollars per gallon of gas with a charger that has a minimum charge fee.
The plug-in car industry is at an early-adopter stage. Because of this, one of the problems is the large variety of charger types and incompatible charging station cards. A Forbes article recently elaborated on this. This situation will improve with time as the marketplace chooses winners and losers. There are more than 160,000 gas stations in the U.S. It will take a while for EV charging stations to catch up, but they will exist in more locations, such as your nearby Walgreens’ pharmacy.
The speed of charging will also improve. A Nissan Leaf SL has a proprietary quick charge port that uses Nissan’s fast charger. It’s one of the features making the SL more expensive than the SV model. I asked an informed Nissan salesperson in Utah if he knew of any location in Utah with a Nissan Quick Charger. As far as he knew, there weren’t any. Tesla is installing their proprietary quick chargers throughout the U.S. They’re free, but only available for Tesla owners. As the U.S. breaks out of the early-adopter stage of the EV market, there will be more fast charging options. For a C-Max Energi, the battery is too small to be too concerned about fast charging.
Do you know of other ways to find EV chargers? If you do, please post a comment to add to this resource.