More than 100 Taco Bell restaurants are slated to be “electrified” over the next year with fast DC electric vehicle charging stations, operator Diversified Restaurant Group announced earlier this month.
The locations must be equipped with ChargeNet stations, which the companies say offer an average of up to 100 miles of additional range in just 20 minutes — about the time it takes to sample a Nacho Fries and take a bathroom break.
The announcement is one such example of a shift – and indeed, a diversification – in where EV charging is being installed. Fast charging of electric vehicles with direct current is usually set up in places where the grid allows the connection of high power and where drivers can stop for more than half an hour. But with powerful battery-boosted DC chargers offering the ability to be installed in more places, including gas stations, fast charging is finding a wider range of places.
And if the operators of hundreds of fast-food restaurants interested in turning around see a viable model for chargers, it’s a sign that the scene is evolving.
Made in the USA Tritium Quick Chargers
The installations will use US-made Tritium fast chargers and solar panels and energy storage to offset grid demands and charge faster while keeping utility costs down. The first of these locations opened in South San Francisco, California.
ChargeNet Chief Technology Officer Rebecca Wolkoff confirmed to Green Car Reports that all 100-location deployments will be 75kW or more. The first site offers on-site Tesla adapters that provide a maximum of 50 kW with any year Tesla, but here a revised Tesla adapter is being tested that allows up to 75 kW for future deployments.
This is enough to charge Chevy Bolt EV at peak power, for example, adding 100 miles in 30 minutes in this case. And if 75kW adapters become common, charging a Tesla Model 3 from 10% to 80% is fast enough in about 30 minutes.
Diversified Restaurant Group operates more than 300 Taco Bell and Arby’s franchises in five states, and says about half of its locations are in marginalized communities across California.
ChargeNet said it’s “optimizing EV chargers and renewable energy to turn parking into a profit center,” so it’s clearly looking at the long-term profit potential of this strategy.
A BMW i3 is charging at EVgo fast chargers at a Chevron station in Menlo Park, California
In the United States — especially with the help of funds allocated for a nationwide electric vehicle charging network —walk-in stores use electric vehicle charging for rural America, and a growing legion of big energy companies are seeing charging as a worthy on-site investment. For example, the battery-boosted FreeWire chargers are headed to some of the US Chevron and Texaco stationsand the chief executive of BP, which oversees charging in the UK and Europe, earlier this year suggested that on a marginal basis, rapid charging of electric vehicles almost as profitable as gas pumps.
It’s high time on the fast food front. McDonald’s has yet to adopt a centralized electric car charging plan in the US, although it has in other markets. Volvo and Starbucks are teaming up for a pilot charging network for car trips from Seattle to Denver, an idea that also makes a lot of sense for travelers and locals alike.