Picture yourself on a weekend break with your family. You are driving your EV. On the way back, you need to recharge your battery, which will take up to 30 minutes. If you had the following options, where would you stop:
1. Charging station
2. Restaurant with a charging point
Based on current capabilities of electric vehicles, re-charging a battery could take at least 20 minutes to yield about 50 miles (about 80 kilometres) in range. But how many people on a vacation would like to live on the edge? Forever worried about your EV running out of power. You would rather be safe than sorry.
So, this is how I see the scenario unfolding. You are on your weekend break, with your family, in your EV. On the way back, you stop at a restaurant where you can recharge your battery while the family has a sandwich and coffee.
Let us assume that a family will travel up to 180 miles (300 kilometres) one way on a weekend break. Any modern vehicle that runs on petrol or diesel will require at least one re-fuel for the entire to-and-fro trip.
Same thing will apply if you have opted for the EV6 by Kia (315 miles or 510 kilometres) or Hyundai Kona (280 miles or 450 kilometres) or Tata Nexon EV (190 miles or 310 kilometres).
The only difference is that, as of today, you have multiple options to refill a car powered by petrol and diesel. On the other hand, those using an EV will have to plan their trip carefully.
A petrol car can be refilled in 5 minutes to restore its full range. The time to recharge an EV to restore the full range will not be less than 20 minutes. Actually, it could take more than an hour of charging to restore the full range of an EV.
This time element offers an opportunity for businesses on highways.
On a long journey, you would only stop for fuel: for your car and for yourself. The time to refill a petrol car would be around 5 minutes. To refuel yourself, you could take up to an hour in a restaurant.
If you are in an EV, the hour that you spend in a restaurant could also be used to recharge your battery. That way, you do not lose any time on the road.
Restaurant owners could invest in some more space around the premises to fix charging stations. As the number of EVs goes up, charging points would be a criteria while choosing where you would halt for a meal.
This scenario could also apply for inter-city and overnight buses.
The charging points in restaurants will have a beneficial side-effect with regards to parking. Right now, people can get away with parking their cars haphazardly. But if you want to recharge your EV, you need a proper parking slot with a charging point. So, you can expect more organised parking in restaurants on highways.
Restaurant owners are more likely to plan for larger parking lots as they can now expect some return on this additional investment.
At present, on highways, parking is free. Typically, if a restaurant owner invests in a large parking lot today, they cannot expect any return on the additional investment.
However, this will change once customers start charging their EVs in the parking lot. The restaurant owner can expect a fee for this service. This additional income could motivate businesses to invest in a solar power plant because restaurants on highways are far away from power cables.
With a larger premises and a source of additional revenue, they will have the economics of scale to seriously consider a solar power plant.
As the number of EVs goes up, the existing fuel stations on highways will be replaced by charging stations and transformed into food courts.
In the EV ecosystem, electricity will be delivered via cables to charging stations or, in some cases, the job will be done by solar power plants. A reduction in demand for for petrol and diesel will bring down the number of trucks carrying fuel around the country.
This will give you some food for thought the next time you stop at a fuel station on the highway to top up your petrol or diesel car.