Since Wally’s first broke ground on its small but growing enterprise, the bigger-than-big has included EV chargers in its strategy.
“We have created a separate canopy for electric chargers so that our guests can have a similar experience to the traditional fueling experience,” President and CEO Michael Rubenstein told CSP. “They're covered from the rain while also having secondary access to our large-format store, which allows them to replicate what consumers are used to with the EV experience.”
Currently with two highway stores, Wally’s has eight Tesla Superchargers and four non-Tesla chargers, but the stores have been equipped to grow to a total of 24 potential charging positions.
A Q&A with Rubenstein:
How is EV performing?
It’s a slow adoption. We have Tesla Superchargers, as well as our own Wally’s branded chargers through another operator. The Teslas certainly have more demands than the other chargers because they also have a lot more cars on the road than the other chargers.
Why is EV charging important to your chain?
Wally’s is the “home of the great American road trip.” Our priority is serving our guests when they’re on the road trip. And so as they’re driving habits change, we want to make sure that we’re able to accommodate all sorts of travelers.
What’s coming next?
More. More EV cars are being produced by the major automobile manufacturers; there is a lot of opportunity for the road travelers. … Not everyone has the ability to install a home charger at their house. When we have the highest kilowatt-per-hour charges installed, people will be potentially stopping more than they usually do because of the need.
Do you drive an EV?
I don’t. I have driven one. I think they’re fun. … The Rivian plant in Normal, Illinois, is only 30 miles from our Pontiac store, so we’ve certainly seen some uptick there. We’re staying tuned to all of these new developments.