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For Quick Charge Providers, Choosing A Billing System Proves Tricky

istorically, electric vehicle charging provider Ecotality provided members of its Blink network with free access to both its DC quick charge and Level 2 charging stations. With more electric car drivers now on the road, the publicly-traded company started monetizing its California-based DC quick charge stations by levying a $5 flat fee per use to its members, or $8 per use to non-members.

The change was met with high levels of consternation from the EV-driving community. The network is now experimenting with various payment models in an attempt to find the best solution.

“We’ve been closely reading your comments and appreciate your feedback regarding the fees for DC Fast Chargers,” a Blink spokesperson wrote on the Blink Network website at the start of July. “We want to put the wisdom of our community to good use, so over the next few months we will be testing different pricing models to see which one generates the most interest.”

But what are the different models, and how might they be used?
Flat Fee Charging

Currently, Ecotality is testing flat-fee charging on its Blink DC quick charge network. Under the pricing scheme originally proposed, it charges drivers a flat fee, regardless of how much they charge. Although it has distinct financial benefits to Ecotality—it’s much easier to bill a flat fee per charge and increases profit margins—it isn’t exactly fair.

For a start, drivers say, charging a flat fee isn’t fair to those who arrive at quick chargers wanting a 10-minute boost to get them to their destination. Ten minutes of charging might be enough to cover those additional 20 miles home, but paying $5 or even $8 for the privilege is far more expensive than paying the equivalent fuel required to travel 20 miles in a gasoline car.

In addition, different cars have different capacity battery packs. The 2013 Mitsubishi i, for example, only has a 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack, while the 2013 Nissan LEAF has a 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack. Even if both cars arrive almost empty, the Mitsubishi i driver ends up paying a higher fee per mile driven.

A flat fee, according to many drivers, is overpriced
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