More than 100 Taco Bell restaurants are set to be “electrified” over the next year with DC fast-charging stations for electric vehicles, announced the operator Diversified Restaurant Group, earlier this month.
The locations are due to be fitted with ChargeNet Stations offering what the companies said on average will amount to 100 miles of additional range in just 20 minutes—about the time it takes to sample some Nacho Fries and take a bathroom break.
The announcement is one such example in a shift—and really, a diversification—in where EV charging is being installed. Electric-vehicle DC fast charging has been typically set up in places where the grid allows high-power connections and where drivers are likely to stop for more than a half-hour. With battery-boosted high-power DC fast-chargers offering the potential for installation in more places—including gas stations—fast-charging is finding a wider range of venues.
And when the operators of hundreds of fast-food restaurants interested in turnover see a viable model for chargers, it’s an indication that the scene is evolving.
The installations will use U.S.-built Tritium fast-chargers and utilize solar and battery-based energy storage to help offset grid demand and charge faster while keeping utility costs in check. The first of these locations has opened at a South San Francisco, California, location.
ChargeNet chief technology officer Rebecca Wolkoff confirmed to Green Car Reports that all in the 100-location deployment will be 75 kw or greater. The first location offers on-site Tesla adapters that permit a maximum of 50 kw with any year of Tesla, but it’s testing a revised Tesla adapter permitting up to 75 kw for future deployments.
That’s enough to charge the Chevy Bolt EV at its peak power, for instance, adding 100 miles in 30 minutes in that case. And if the 75-kw adapters become common, it’s quick enough to charge a Tesla Model 3 from 10% to 80% in about 30 minutes.
Diversified Restaurant Group operates more than 300 Taco Bell and Arby’s franchises in five states, and it says that about half of its locations are in marginalized communities across California.
ChargeNet said that it “optimizes EV chargers and renewable energy to transform parking lots into profit centers,” so it’s clearly eyeing the long-term revenue potential of the strategy.
In the U.S.—especially with the funds made available for a nationwide EV charging network—convenience stores are embracing EV charging for rural America, and a growing legion of big energy companies are seeing charging as a worthwhile on-the-ground investment. For instance, FreeWire’s battery-boosted chargers are headed to some U.S. Chevron and Texaco stations, and BP’s executive overseeing charging in the UK and Europe earlier this year suggested that, on a margin basis, EV fast-chargers are almost as profitable as gas pumps.
On the fast-food front, it’s about time. McDonald’s hasn’t yet adopted any centralized EV charging plan in the U.S., although it has in various other markets. Volvo and Starbucks are teaming up for a pilot road-trip charging network from Seattle to Denver—an idea that also makes a lot of sense for road-trippers and locals alike.
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