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This startup wants to put EV chargers at fast-food restaurants — starting with a Taco Bell

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ChargeNet unveils its first public stations at a Taco Bell in California. ChargeNet

  • Electric-car sales have prompted the rise of EV-charging startups like ChargeNet. 
  • The San Diego startup is installing public charging stations at fast-food chains such as Taco Bell. 
  • It says the fast chargers at a California Taco Bell can provide a 100-mile charge in 20 minutes.

At a Taco Bell in Northern California, electric-vehicle drivers can now recharge their rides while refueling on chalupas and tacos.

In partnership with ChargeNet, a San Diego public-charging-station startup, a Taco Bell restaurant near San Francisco is rolling out six fast-charging EV stations this week. The solar-powered stations can provide a 100-mile charge in 20 minutes or less for about $20, ChargeNet says.

Tom Douglas, the chief operating officer of the Taco Bell franchisee company Diversified Restaurant Group, told Insider he liked being a trailblazer in the EV public-charging space.

“I think it offers something that you can’t get anywhere else in QSR,” Douglas said, referring to quick-service restaurants. “It also attracts some new customers who may have not given us a try before but now know that in 20 minutes, they can come charge their car and have lunch.”

Diversified operates nearly 300 Taco Bells and 28 Arby’s restaurants, including six Taco Bell Cantinas. The company receives a “small cut of the EV revenue,” Douglas said, declining to say what percentage the Taco Bell franchisee was receiving.

Roughly 120 California Taco Bell restaurants owned by Diversified are set to add EV stations in the coming months. The move came after the California Air Resources Board said in August it would require all new vehicles sold in California by 2035 to be electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Tosh Dutt, the CEO of ChargeNet, said he’s carving a niche for his 2-year-old startup by placing stations at fast-food restaurants. Larger and more established rivals in the space, such as ChargePoint, typically put their stations in shopping centers or malls. The electric-car-charging market is expected to reach more than $207.5 billion by 2030, according to Guidehouse Insights.

Of the 47,666 public EV stations in the US, only about 6,500 are fast chargers, according to the Department of Energy.

Dutt said it made sense to put fast-charging stations in fast-food parking lots because they’re ubiquitous along major highways and roads in the US and serve millions of customers a year.

“Over a third of the US eats at quick-serve restaurants on any given day,” he said.

Dutt said the strategy would also solve “range anxiety.” That’s the fear among EV owners of losing battery power before finding a public charging station, including the harder-to-find fast-charging or level-3 stations.

ChargeNet, which has raised $7.2 million in venture capital, said placing fast-charging stations in fast-food parking lots would hopefully spur more adoption of EVs among low-income households.

“There’s no secret that there’s a disproportionate amount of quick-serve restaurants in low-income communities and rural areas,” he said. “Being able to host at these locations, we’re able to democratize public EV charging.”

Alexa St. John contributed reporting.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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