Blink to Charge by the (Kilowatt) Hour: What is the Best Way to Charge for Your Charge?

Today, Blink announced a switch, where possible, to charging for electricity by the Kilowatt Hour (kWh) instead of by charging time. Is this better or worse and what are the pitfalls to each approach?

Blink EV Chargers at Coffe ShopHistorically, EV charging at public stations, where not free or included in the parking charges, has always been priced by the hour. The cost has ranged from as little as $0.50 for Level 2 to as much as $7/hr for DC fast charge. The problem is that, not all cars charge at the same rate and to illustrate that, let’s look at the mid-point, let’s consider a $2.50/hr charge on a typical charging station that you might find all over America – for the technicaly minded fact checkers, we’re looking at a 30A unit wired into a 208V leg of a 3-phase circuit.

Traditionally, it doesn’t mater if you suck or sip the power, it’s the time connected that matters:

Car Charge rate How long to charge up Cost
Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2.9kW About 5 hours $12
Nissan Leaf (basic model) 2.9kW About 8 hours $20
Nissan Leaf (latest model) 6.2kW About 4 hours $10
Ford Focus Electric 6.2kW About 4 hours $10
Tesla Model S 85 6.2kW About 14 hours $35

 

Blink is proposing to charge instead by the amount of electricity consumed. For Level 2, they’re proposing between $0.39 to $0.79 so, again, looking at a midpoint of $0.59, let’s look at the same cars:

Car Charge rate How long to charge up Cost
Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2.9kW About 5 hours $9
Nissan Leaf (basic model) 2.9kW About 8 hours $14
Nissan Leaf (latest model) 6.2kW About 4 hours $14
Ford Focus Electric 6.2kW About 4 hours $14
Tesla Model S 85 6.2kW About 14 hours $51

 

Are you seeing a jumble of pluses and minuses? We are too.

And there’s more

We keep saying ‘Where possible’ Blink will switch to rates by the electricity consumed and that’s because, not all states in the US even permit this kind of operation. States like California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia permit companies like Blink to sell electricity by the kWh whereas others like New Jersey don’t. We think that is odd. Imagine if you couldn’t buy gasoline by the gallon but instead were charged for how long it took to fill the tank?

Further more, the rate will vary from state to state and as Blink put it, “{on the} individual’s membership status” whatever that means.

Lastly though, in a clearly positive move, Blink announced that “To enhance our time-based charging policy, we will also reduce the time increment for stations owned by Blink and operated on the Blink Network located in states where kWh pricing is not permitted. Time-based charging fees will no longer be rounded to the nearest hour, but rather, up to the next 30-second interval. ” We can all agree that’s a good move.

Which is best?

Right now, it’s clear that there’s no clear winner, no cheaper solution whilst prices vary for both by-the-hour and by-the-amount-consumed.

We at Transport Evolved think the charging by the electricity consumed feels the more fair solution but it’s clear that there are exceptions.

Overall, we think this raises more questions than it answers. Which would you as a consumer prefer? How do the site operators feel about this move? Will this promote more charging-and-abandoning? Help shape the debate with your thoughts below.

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