Eager to find locations to expand its U.S. recharging network, Tesla Motors is busy seeking new partners, with fast food, gas stations and convenience stores being top of mind.
One of the chains Tesla is attempting to seduce is the jack-of-all-trades Sheetz, according to the Washington Post. With hundreds of locations in the mid-Atlantic region, Appalachia and Ohio, Sheetz — maker of the Shmuffinz breakfast sandwich — operates a gas bar, convenience store and fast food restaurant at its locations.
It’s the place to be, and Tesla wants a Supercharger on that property.
“We’ve had discussions with them about putting their chargers in our stores,” Michael Lorenz, Sheetz’s executive vice president of petroleum supply, told the Washington Post. “We haven’t done anything yet, but we’re continuing those discussions.”
Tesla wants to partner with private businesses
Tesla stated that it wants to partner with private businesses like restaurants and hotels — anywhere people congregate (and could use a battery top-up) — to boost the convenience of owning one of its vehicles. Electric vehicles sales are sluggish, but a combination of lower prices, better range, and improved recharging infrastructure is seen as a cure for tepid public interest.
With volume ramping up (to 500,000 units per year by 2018, Tesla claims), the automaker needs to make ownership as easy as possible. Plunking down Superchargers in population-dense areas of the U.S. helps the automaker’s business model — Tesla doesn’t need to purchase land, owners won’t be far from a station, and potential buyers won’t be put off by a lack of infrastructure.
Tesla’s Supercharger network currently numbers 655 stations (worldwide), with 3,966 hookup points. The lower-priced Model 3 starts finding homes in late 2017, and the 215-mile range EV needs its juice, especially if it’s bound for a single-car household.
Chains like Sheetz make sense for the automaker, because drivers would spend more time at those location than, say, a conventional gas station. No one wants to wait in their car for half an hour, and station owners don’t want a parked vehicle taking up space on their limited footprint, consuming a product that doesn’t make them money.
A Supercharger adds 170 miles of range to a Tesla’s battery in 30 minutes — enough time for a driver to use the washroom, buy a magazine, order and eat a Schmuffinz breakfast, and use the bathroom again.