If I were a weary interstate traveler with a quarter tank of gas looking to make a quick fuel stop and stretch my legs before making a last push into the night, a quick glance at the familiar landscape above would tell me a lot. That glance would tell me where I could get a taco or a pizza or a sandwich or a coffee, it would give me options to fuel up, too — BP, Exxon, Mobil, Shell, Sunoco — there’s even a Texaco and a Citgo if you look closely. Those signs are 50 feet high at least, and feature powerful brands with billions of marketing dollars behind them. They light up at night, too, ensuring that they’ll be seen by thousands of drivers, day or night, 24/7. Now, look at the sign again and ask yourself: where are the charging stations?
If you were on a road trip, and your tank was low, how confident would you be in your ability to find gas if you were greeted by the above sight? We might shake our heads at later adopters of EVs, but can you honestly look at that picture and say that you would have similar confidence in your ability to find charging? How about this picture below?
There’s two signs in that picture, and they’re both advertising a version of the same thing. One is 60 feet high, brightly illuminated, and flying the American flag. It can be seen for miles, and everyone who sees it knows that they can buy liquid gasoline fuel wherever they see the sign. The other sign is right next to it. It’s advertising fuel, too, albeit electric fuel. Not only can you not see it for miles, but you might have missed it altogether if I hadn’t drawn attention to it. That electric fuel is un-branded, un-lit, and ultimately un-noticeable.
If you were a consultant trying to help utility companies raise awareness of charging stations, would you suggest an online wheel-to-well emissions comparison tool, or would you recommend bigger, badder, branded signs?
Let me ask the question another way: if you were selling electric fuel, and your competition was advertising the way Shell or BP or Exxon are advertising, wouldn’t signs that look like my potato quality Photochop (below) make a whole lot more sense?
Visibility matters, and electric charging stations are almost totally invisible in real life. What that means for drivers is that, unless you’re in a Tesla or use a third-party app like Chargeway, you’re going to have a tough time finding charging. Even then, you may not actually see any more charging stations than the one you go to — even in areas where they’re actually plentiful.
The existing EV charging signs are just too small, too innocent, too bashful to be effective, and we — as EV ambassadors — need to demand better from the EV charging industry.
That’s my take, anyway. What’s yours? Do you think EV adoption will continue to plug along without an even playing field in terms of visibility? Do we need to change some laws holding us back? Do you think bigger signs would accelerate the coming e-mobility revolution? Scroll on down to the bottom of the page and tell us how you’d raise awareness for EV charging in the comments.
Original content from CleanTechnica.