With about 30 EV chargers at Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, the retailer has a lot of room to grow within its more than 650-store network. Kim Okafor sees extending that base as a natural extension of the fuel retailing the company has done for more than 60 years.
“We provide amenities and services to our over-the-road customers. Fuel just so happens to be one of those services,” she said. “We’re building out a network. … Electric fuel is just the next phase.”
How is EV charging performing?
We’ve learned a lot, and we’ve stubbed our toe a couple of times. We learned how to engage with utilities. We’ve learned what EV tariffs look like and how that affects the economics of the station. We’ve learned a lot about demand charges. We’ve learned a lot about the EV customer. That EV customer base is a little bit different from our gasoline customer. The dwell time is longer, so we’re learning how long they dwell, what it is they’re looking for when they come to a truckstop and making sure that we provide that.
“It’s one thing to run the business from behind a computer screen. It’s another thing to actually get in the wild and see how the chargers are really operating.”
What’s coming next?
The next step is to build … more of them. The goal is hundreds, [as many as] 300. It really depends on the region, the competitive landscape and on the grid.
What’s your experience driving an EV?
[Love’s] purchased a fleet of EVs. … I made a road trip from Houston to Oklahoma City. We ended up doing some videos on what I learned. I did another road trip from Houston to San Antonio. It’s one thing to run the business from behind a computer screen. It’s another thing to actually get in the wild and see how the chargers are really operating.