West Coast charging network operator EVCS is looking to simplify powering electric vehicles by offering a choice of monthly subscription plans.
The move marks a departure from the way such networks typically operate. Most require a low monthly fee and charge an additional amount per kWh used.
“It really is a minefield across the various networks, be it time of day rates, location-based variances and hidden fees,” Kirk Johnson, chief growth officer at EVCS, said Monday. “We’re trying to cut through all that with a very simplified, predictable monthly fee.”
The Los Angeles company now offers three subscription tiers for its West Coast network of close to 700 Level 2 or Level 3 public chargers. A Level 2 charger can top off an EV battery from empty in 4-10 hours. A Level 3 charger can fill a battery to 80 percent in 20 minutes to an hour depending on the charger and the network.
While clear-cut pricing is important, charging speed, availability and charger maintenance are also critical factors, said Mike Ramsey, a Gartner automotive and smart mobility analyst.
That has become a pain point for EV drivers who often encounter a shortage of public chargers or find them inoperable. Additionally, about a third of new-vehicle shoppers lack access to home charging.
“Pricing is one thing,” he said. “But if [charger operators] can’t guarantee availability and speed it won’t matter what they charge.”
EVCS’ base Standard Anytime plan costs $49.99 a month and provides up to 200 kWh of charging, after which users pay $0.29 per kWh. EVCS said this plan is geared toward those who drive fewer than 1,150 miles per month and charge about seven times during the period.
The Unlimited Off-Peak Pro tier costs $99.99 a month and includes unlimited charging from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Outside those hours, subscribers are charged $0.29 per kWh. The company said this plan is best for those who drive more than 1,150 miles a month.
The top Unlimited Anytime Pro Plan is $199.99 per month. It’s designed for long-distance commuters and gig workers who drive for ride-hailing or delivery companies and need 24/7 access to fast charging.
“These prices are quite low and very attractive – if the chargers are fast and work as advertised,” Ramsey said.
Prices vary by location
While other networks don’t offer flat-rate charging, they do provide discounts with memberships. Prices vary by location.
EVGo has three monthly subscriptions. In the Los Angeles area, the Basic plan costs $0.99 a month for a $0.34 per kWh rate. This is the same as the company’s pay-as-you-go rate but avoids a $0.99 session fee charged each time an EV is connected.
EVGo Plus costs $6.99 a month and has a $0.25 per kWH rate, while the Plus Max plan is $12.99 a month for $0.22 per kWh, both without a session fee. In Michigan, the monthly subscriptions are the same, but the per-kWh rates are $0.32 for Basic, $0.28 for Plus and $0.32 for Plus Max.
Electrify America charges $0.43 per kWh to guest users and Pass members who sign up to use the company’s app. A $4-a-month Pass+ membership drops the rate to $0.31 per kWh.
Electrify America, a Volkswagen Group of America subsidiary established in 2016 to offset emissions in the wake of Volkswagen Group’s diesel-emissions scandal, occasionally offers free charging. Several automakers also provide free charging for a certain period as part an EV purchase. Tesla has its own DC Supercharger network and has offered incentive to owners.
The EVCS network
EVCS has 149 locations and 672 chargers in California, Oregon and Washington. Its network includes 431 Level 2 chargers and 241 Level 3 DC fast chargers. It plans to have more than 700 DC fast chargers operating by the end of 2023 across 88 cities.
EVCS focuses on the West Coast because it accounts for more than 50 percent of U.S. EV ownership. California alone comprises almost 40 percent of EV ownership nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
With its subscription model, EVCS hopes to solve a pain point for EV owners over public charging pricing, particularly for high-mileage EV drivers, Johnson said. That includes those using EVs for ride-hailing and delivery gig work.
“That’s one of the main customer segments we want to address with our new Pro plans,” Johnson said.
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