One of the downsides of charging an electric car compared to adding petrol or diesel is just how long it takes. While the average ICE refuel takes less than five minutes, an EV top-up can be anything from 30 to 90 minutes. This means that lots of early adopters are left sitting in their cars, waiting.
This week, Elon Musk (opens in new tab) has repeated his original plans on Twitter to build a drive-in theater at a Tesla Supercharger location in California. The location has changed from Santa Monica to Hollywood and has gone from old-school to futuristic in the four years since the original post but the idea remains alive.
Giving EV users something more productive than watching their in-car screens while waiting would come as a welcome relief. So, I wondered what – aside from just making the charging experience quicker – would improve the charging experience for electric car owners. Here are my top three, but do tag us on Twitter with more ideas.
1. Valet charging
Whether you're heading out to a restaurant, off to do some shopping or meeting up with friends, dropping the keys to EV with a valet, who takes it off to park and charge it is a perfect combination. When you're ready to go home, your car is brought back to you, fully charged and ready to go.
Many car parks in big cities now have a limited number of trickle chargers installed but a premium service that not only took care of your parking but also hooked it up to a fast charger would definitely have appeal. I can see this becoming an option as more high-end vehicles move to electric and fast chargers are more readily available.
2. Car wash and clean
Combining water with high powered electric chargers might not sound sensible but hear me out. Provided the port is properly connected and sealed the connection is fully waterproof, and what better way to tick off the two most time consuming sessions on a gas station forecourt than to get a full wash and wax while you charge.
Manual hand cleaning services – including interior cleaning – would be a sensible stop-gap, but imagine an automated machine that could do both your charging and your car wash. As with above, this is also something that could be offered with a valet but i'd be much happier sat in my electric car charging, if I was enjoying the soapy sights of a car wash.
3. Drive through services
The only other time I'm routinely sat stationary in my car for long periods (aside from in traffic) is queuing for a drive-through. The slow movement around a building doesn't work for being plugged into an EV charger but with a little reinvention, a solution could be found.
Imagine a charger that can roll along the line with you that is then disconnected once you've got your food. Or maybe it's a simpler option of parking up at a charging station and ordering your food on an app. It's not just food either, don't forget about drive-through pharmacy collections, ATM machines, COVID testing and more.
It's all about location
The main point for electric charging is for it to be available in places where you'd otherwise want to be, not in dimly lit corners of industrial estates. Charging locations need to be safe spots for drivers to park up, any time of day or night and provide facilities to keep the drivers entertained for the time they are there.
Doing this will benefit EV drivers but will also be profitable for those facilities, as you have a captive audience for much longer than you would an ICE car driver.