YORK, Pa. -- Rutter’s Farm Stores has added electric-vehicle (EV) chargers, with the potential for more as the market develops.
The Pennsylvania chain flipped the switch on the Level 3 DC fast chargers this week at its Mountville and New Cumberland, Pa., convenience stores. The charging stations, which can service two EVs at the same time, deliver an 80% charge in about 30 minutes.
The new addition to Rutter’s fuel offer was about a year in the making, Derek Gaskins, chief customer officer, told CSP Daily News. Nissan had approached the c-store chain about adding the charging stations to help support its No Charge to Charge program. Launched in 2014, the program offers customers who buy or lease a new Nissan Leaf EV with two years of free public charging at a network of participating locations. Nissan is debuting its latest-generation Leaf EV in September.
“Part of the future of fuels is making sure we represent all of them,” said Gaskins. “With foodservice and our loyalty program, we give people choices.” The two stores were a “natural fit” for the charging stations because of their proximity to high-traffic corridors and the Harrisburg and Philadelphia markets, where Nissan would like to build up charging infrastructure near its dealerships.
The charging stations, which were installed with the help of charging station provider EVgo, are located next to parking spaces near the lot’s perimeter. There was a logic to this placement.
“For one, they are more visible to people driving by,” said Gaskins. Secondly, the first retailers to add EV charging stations—such as grocery stores—tended to put them in prime parking spots right in front of the store.
“That’s not the right message—you’re handpicking winners,” said Gaskins, noting that the purpose of those parking spots closest to the store is for customers who want a quick in-and-out experience.
“Those on the periphery can park a little longer,” he said. “If someone were to tie up that spot, it wouldn’t take away from the rest of the business.”
Rutter’s shared in the cost of the EV charging stations, or around “several thousand” dollars for each, and paid to help upgrade the electrical infrastructure of the sites to accommodate them. Nissan, however, paid the majority of the EV chargers’ cost.
“The days of the retail free model is long gone,” said Gaskins, who added that by fronting some of the investment, Rutter’s now has “skin in the game.” It also gets a share of revenue from the charging stations. Participants in the No Charge to Charge program get to use the charging stations for free, while other EV owners pay a small fee. The charging stations are equipped with both CHAdeMO and SAE Combo connectors to service different types of EVs.
The Rutter’s EV charging sites are included on the PlugShare EV charging station locator app, and the GasBuddy fuel price information app.
While these two locations are a test, “we would certainly like to launch more,” said Gaskins. He is planning a marketing push to introduce the charging stations to Rutter’s customers over the coming weeks.
With roots dating back to 1747, Rutter’s Farm Stores, York, Pa., owns and operates more than 60 convenience stores in Pennsylvania.