Friday, April 24, 2015

NRG EVgo and Pricing Discussions

In the span of less than a month, EVgo has installed the 4 promised fast chargers. All are in very needed locations and I am excited at where they will expand next.  The Tacoma Mall charger is barely a mile from my office so that will be very convenient but I really need at least 2 more good locations before I would be convinced to get a $14.95 per month subscription. This drops my charging cost to 10 cents a minute. This would be perfect since I rarely have the time (or patience) to sit somewhere for 30 minutes.  The fast charge sessions I have used have almost always been based on what I needed to do while waiting for the charge and not so much the amount of charge I needed since it was rarely more than a few Kwh.

But I am in a job that requires a lot of travel. FYI; There is roughly 3-4 hours of work I can only do in the office on a monthly average. The rest can be done at home which adds up to 4-8 hours a week. The rest is done at the client's location which means a lot of driving around. So far, this has meant very little public charging has been needed on my part but there is also the question of roughly 3,000-4,000miles a year where the LEAF is not viable.  I am hoping new public charging blood will change that.

But many of you don't have such a need so the "use it as needed" pricing EVgo has offered has come under great scrutiny and most of it is misguided.

The biggest complaint centers on a few things.  The one year subscription with early termination fees. Now AV has an "$19.95 per month, all you can eat" program that can literally be started and stopped on a dime.  This allows people to subscribe for a trip, then unsubscribe when they return home.

The 2nd issue comes with the high cost if you choose the pay as you go feature which doubles the per minute rate to 20 cents which is ok but adds a $4.95 connect fee. Now we are talking $10 for a typical charge up.

Now, I have issues with the reactions on both ends.  On the subscription model, it all really depends on where EVgo puts their chargers.  As mentioned above, I would gladly pay more for convenience which means more chargers in places I need them. So the validity of the deal hinges upon where EVgo goes with new installs.  Also, its a time based charging system which is critical for a station that is in such high demand.

On the pay as you go model, $10 for a charge may seem high at first but we accept that kind of billing on a daily basis without complaint.  What is cost of a soda at 7-Eleven verses Costco? or water or just about anything else. Its buy a dozen at 49 cents each or buy one for $1.59 (This is a real example using cupcakes...)  But we accept these seemingly outrageous prices based on convenience and the fact that normally our food bill is much lower so we can afford the occasional cost.  Well the LEAF is no different. I can afford to pay 20 cents a mile for a quick charge on the road because the other 90% of my miles cost me under 2 cents per mile.

 But there are valid complaints. EVgo's website fails in many areas. There is no way to create an account to monitor your usage between billing cycles. That is a huge issue. The station locator does not work but then again, considering the newness of the WA locations, I am willing to wait to see if that part improves. There is also no smartphone app, another glaring oversight.

But new blood means more options, more competition and possibly lower prices from everyone because of it. EVgo's pay as you go  L2 is $1.50 an hour, a very decent deal!  But what it really boils down to is the same old adage; is it a good deal if I have to drive across town to get it?   I love AV's option but their locations simply are too slim for me. I simply do not go South from Olympia to justify the use of the two stations less than 30 miles from my home.  So its all back to EVgo and phase two of their station rollout plans for Western WA.

Add more critical locations which includes redundancy in areas where current stations are overrun and get current with technology. Put out a smartphone app that tells you what your up to date billing is or at the very least, provide that info online.

No comments:

Post a Comment