With 24 EV charging locations in Maryland and Delaware, Royal Farms has arguably the largest EV charging network in the c-store industry. The Baltimore, Md.-based chain of 170 stores opened its first charging station in 2015, adding many more as part of a partnership with EV charging-station provider Chargepoint. Most recently, a Tesla Supercharger station opened in the lot of a Royal Farms’ store in Grasonville, Md.
Thomas Ruszin, fuel and environmental leader for Royal Farms, Baltimore, told CSP Fuels that Tesla originally approached the chain with two specific sites in mind. “It seems like they were trying to tie the Eastern Shore beaches into some of the more major corridors,” said Ruszin. One store already had Chargepoint chargers planned, so Tesla picked the location in Grasonville, which sits on Route 50 connecting the beaches to the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area.
The Supercharger, which has 12 charging stations, takes up nearly 14 “nonprime” parking spots behind the c-store, said Ruszin. Tesla installed it in about two weeks, and owns, operates and maintains the unit.
To keep EV drivers busy during charging, the store offers a full foodservice program, including fried chicken, a deli, coffee bar and plenty of seating. While Tesla does not share usage data with Royal Farms, it did offer the retailer projections of how many EV drivers it expects would use the site. Ruszin declined to share the figure, but said the number was surprisingly high. Royal Farms has already seen usage of its other EV charging sites nearly quadruple in the past year to 1,900 customers in the latest quarter.
While Royal Farms does not plan to add any additional charging stations for now, “If we keep seeing this kind of growth that we’ve had over the last year, I think in next couple of years we will be re-examining this program and possibly adding to it,” said Ruszin.